Selecting Horse Rugs/Blankets

close up of mother horse and colt

Just like us, horses are warm blooded animals that get cold and need protection during cold or inclement weather. In the same way that you need a jacket or coat when the weather is bad, your horse also needs protection. In addition to keeping your horse in a stable during bad weather, weather protection for your horse can also be accomplished by getting your horse a rug or blanket.

A good horse rug/blanket will help keep your horse warm during cold weather and will also protect him from wind and rain.

Blanketing your horse during the summer is somewhat controversial, because you don't want your horse to be too hot and your horse needs to be able to sweat. Some people don't blanket their horse in the summer, but only in the winter. However, some people advocate summer blankets with good wicking abilities since this allows your horse to sweat and also because a rug helps protect your horse from flies or other insect pests.

Selecting Your Horse's Rug

You should get a good quality rug, such as those made by Weatherbeeta, where you'll get quality at a good price. It is best to get the best horse rug you can afford. Rugs come in various types from light weight to heavy weight and from water resistant to waterproof.

Types of Horse Rugs

  • Sheets vs Blankets
  • Stable vs Turnout Rugs

Sheets are sufficient for your horse when the weather is cool, but not cold. They are thinner than blankets. Blankets are thicker and will protect your horse when the weather is colder.

The main difference between stable and turnout rugs is that the covering of stable blankets isn't as durable as that of turnout blankets. This is because stable sheets and blankets are made primarily for use inside the stable. Turnout rugs are meant to protect your horse when he or she is outdoors.

Turnout rugs should be waterproof or water resistant. Water resistant means that the rug will repel water, but your horse may still get wet if it rains hard enough.

The horse rug material should be breathable and have wicking properties.

Buying the Right Size

To prevent rubbing and discomfort it is important to fit your horse's rug properly. Measure from the center of your horse's chest all the way to the mid point of the horse's rear.

When putting the rug on your horse, first, buckle the chest straps, making sure the rug fits well on the withers and shoulders. The withers is the ridge between the shoulder blades. You can buy horse rugs with one or 2 chest straps, but 2 straps is usually best because it makes the rug more stable. The rug needs to be well up onto the neck and in front of the withers.

Your horse should be able to move freely without the rug restricting your horse's movement or slipping. Make sure you can fit your hand inside and along the neck of the rug.

When you fit the breast straps make sure they are fastened correctly. Then go to the back, pull the rug and the top of the rug should be just over the top of the tail. The belly straps should have about one hand's width between the strap and the horse's belly.

It is best to have at least one spare horse rug/blanket on hand. This is important in case your horse's rug becomes damaged and needs to be repaired or if you are washing your horse's rug.

Finally, you can also find horse blanket accessories, such as hoods, shoulder guards, and replacement straps for your horse rug if needed.