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Any non-standard requirement for products can cause difficulties in terms of getting a wide choice. For example, if you have larger-than-normal feet, are of short stature or are especially slim, you will know that shopping for clothes for yourself can be a ‘mission’. The same can be true of equestrian rugs. All of the standard sizes of rugs for horses and ponies are widely available, with the mainstream horse rug manufacturers producing wide ranges of turnout rugs and stable rugs for equines. But what if you have a miniature horse, or a foal? How hard is it to get good quality, well fitting rugs for your diminutive equine? Fortunately, the rug manufacturers are increasingly recognising this growing market sector, and while the ranges are smaller, there are now many more rugs available for the smaller equine or foal.
One of the differences you will see with smaller rugs that may be designed for foals is the fittings and fastenings - they’re minimal! Because of foals’ lack of life experience, they are generally better with rugs that have fewer straps, filet strings etc, so as not to get caught on stable fittings or fences. Touch-Close or Velcro front fastenings are popular, and of course are also quick to do up, and undo. If a mare is feeling over protective of her young horse, you will need to quickly carry out rugging and rug removal without wasting time! Some foal rugs also come with no front closures at all, so are fitted straight over the head to avoid the risk of the foal’s legs getting caught up in the rug straps.
The second differentiating element to a foal rug is that they often have ‘room to grow’. A good example is Horseware Ireland’s Amigo AdjustableTurnout Foal Rug which comes in four sizes, with each size expanding up to two sizes to accommodate the fast growth rate of a foal. (So a 3'6'' rug will fit up to a 4' foal). This rug has a thoughtfully-designed neck cut to help stabilise the rug on narrow equine shoulders, and a belly flap for added warmth. Ideal for foals born early who may feel the spring chills.
For small ponies, some rug manufacturers start their rugs at around a 3ft 9” to 4ft size, although the larger pony sizes are more widely stocked. You will also find many basic rugs available in the usual ‘pony, cob, horse’ sizes. However you can buy very petite rugs - a good example is the Horseware Amigo Petite Cosy Heavyweight Stable Rug which starts at 2ft 9”. This is the size of rug that owners of a miniature horse would be looking at.
Generally speaking, 2ft 9” - 3ft 9” would be considered a miniature size for a horse rug, and 4ft upwards would be considered a small pony size. Foal rugs tend to start at 2.75 feet (33 inches).
One thing that may surprise you is that foal rugs and rugs for small ponies (like Shetlands) or miniature horses (like Falabellas) are not necessarily cheaper! In fact, the engineering involved may even make them pricier if they are not manufactured on such a large scale.
A further consideration for small sized pony and horse rugs is that your foal or miniature horse’s wardrobe will probably be smaller, as there’s a limited amount of variations with the type of rug produced - so you may just have a turnout rug and a stable rug, plus some spare of the same kind, as opposed to lots of different rugs of different weights, fillings and ‘roles’.