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Horse rugs come in several styles these days, with three main types of neck styles available. They are: without a neck, with an integrated neck, and with a detachable neck.
Usually called ‘standard neck’ rugs, rugs without a neck finish at the withers and close at the chest. They are ideal for Spring and Autumn or any time of year when a rug is deemed necessary, but a full neck isn’t required. A criticism of these types of rugs is that the mane can become rubbed, and despite the manufacturers’ best efforts, this can take place, regardless of brand or cost. You will see that some manufacturers have come up with clever solutions, such as forward cut necks, which are a few inches further forward than is traditional. Depending on your horse or pony’s size and shape, this design feature can be useful. You will also see things like wither pads that aim to provide pressure relief and ‘lift’ the rug at the wither area, or lined areas at the wither that aim to reduce mane-loss. Many standard neck rugs also have sheepskin areas at the wither, again designed for comfort. Horse rugs without a neck are widely available in both turn out and stable rug styles.
Rugs with an integrated neck are great if you know that you will always want to have the neck area covered. They have the benefit that because there are no major seams at this area, they tend to rub the mane less. Also called ‘full neck’ rugs, they can be cost-effective, as you aren’t paying for two separate, finished products. The neck of a full neck rug can in any case be turned back and rested across the withers with many makes and models, especially those without any elastication at the area behind the horse or pony’s ears. Perfect for milder days.
These are versatile rugs that will take horses and their owners through several seasons. Often called ‘combi’, ‘all in one’ or ‘combo’ rugs, those with detachable necks have a separate section that usually detaches with clips or Touch / Close sections. The neck covers themselves may have a lining for warmth or may have no filling. You can also purchase neck covers separately for many rugs; ideal if you’re initially on a budget. You will see some clever innovations in neck covers - for example, the Weatherbeeta Snug Fit for the Weatherbeeta Freestyle Detach A Neck rug is an adjustable, waterproof fleece neck cuff that protects your horse against the wind and rain. Look out for neck covers on detachable neck rugs that have elasticated sections at the poll area of the neck, or are shaped in a ‘cocoon’ shape, as they are useful for keeping the cover snug behind the horse or pony’s ears, and for preventing slipping or ‘ruching’ backwards. Detachable neck rugs are more commonly seen in the turnout styles, although some brands also make them for stable rugs.