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Everything we invest in for our horses and ponies is important, but certain items warrant ‘buying the best’ to ensure your horse is comfortable and able to enjoy life to the full! Alongside top quality tack for your riding, one of these such items is your horse’s rugs.
If you are a person that prefers to rug their horses - and not everyone does - horse rugs offer your horse protection from the cold, the wet weather and even the sun and insects, so having a good selection, suitable for each season, is key.
Horse rugs can be expensive, so when it comes to purchasing a new rug for your horse, there are a number of measurements that you will need to make to make sure the rug offers the perfect fit for your horse, ensuring it will last long term.
A basic rug shape that stops at the horse’s withers, covering the body with no neck cover, is usually described as Standard. A rug that covers the horse’s neck is often referred to as a Combo Rug or Integrated Neck. It is also possible to purchase turnout and stable rugs with Detachable Neck Covers. Sizes for rugs are usually presented in feet and inches, for example a 5' 9" or 6' 6".
First off, you will need either a tape measure or a piece of string. Using the tape measure or the piece of string (followed by, if using the latter method, measuring the length of the string), you should measure your horse from the centre of their chest, along their side, finishing at the point where you would require the rug to finish. Then record this measurement.
Once you have taken this measurement, you now have your exact size requirement for stable rugs, but it can be wise to add an extra 3” on top for turnouts, particularly if the turnout rug has a neck cover. If your horse is between two sizes, then you are usually better off going up a size, rather than down, as rugs that are too small can rub.
Once the rug you have order arrives, it is important to assess the fit of the rug on the horse prior to use, as sizing does vary from brand to brand.
Ensure the rug isn’t too tight on the chest, and that it offers good coverage and protection, yet it doesn’t extend too far beyond the top of your horse’s tail. Assess your horse statically, whilst moving and when they have their head down eating, as you want to make sure the rug fits well in all circumstances.
Remember when you are fitting the rug to your horse that you will normally need to adjust the leg straps along with the surcingle straps in order to allow a hand’s width between the strap and the horse’s body or leg. This will allow your horse freedom of movement and comfort but also provide a safe length, minimising the risk of the horse’s legs getting caught in the straps.
The front straps should also be adjusted, in order to ensure that the top of the rug sits nicely in front of the wither. If it fits behind it, then it can pull back and cause suffering to your horse in the shape of rubbing or sores. You should also be able to easily insert your hand down the front of the rug, and you should also see that it is mobile enough to move your hand backwards and forwards over the horse’s coat.
If the neck of the rug is too large, then it will probably ‘hang off’ the back of the horse, which can put pressure on the animal’s shoulders and again, can cause rubbing.
The Saddlery Shop has a huge range of rugs available from a wide variety of leading brands.