This question gets asked all the time. Firstly, choosing the right size rug is important for the comfort and well-being of your horse or pony.
What Rug Size Do I Need?
When a rug/combo fits correctly it will not move or rub your horses’ shoulders, hip, chest or wither. If you find this is happening, chances are, the rug is the wrong size.
Most rug manufacturers have a sizing guide - these can be helpful (as per below), but it is better to measure your horse properly first to have a more accurate idea of what you need.
How Do I Measure For The Right Rug Size?
To measure your horse’s rug size, use a piece of string, and starting at the chest (where the rug would do up) go straight across the point of the shoulder and back to in line with the top of the tail (where the leg straps would sit. This will give you your horses basic length.
Depending on your horse’s shape and condition, this measurement will then help to determine what size he/she would be in a rug.
What Type Of Rug Do I Need
Once you have your measurements then you need to work out what type of rugging needs would be best suited for your horse or pony.
Does he live in a paddock 24/7, does he have access to a shelter, will he be body clipped in winter, is he paddocked during the day and stabled at night, will he have the rug on all the time or will it be taken off during the day. These are just some of the questions you will be asked when purchasing your new rug.
Just like us some horses feel the cold more than others. This is up to the owner to observe and monitor the horse’s temperatures in their relative environments. While some may grow a thick coat and might only need rugging when it is really wet and cold, other horses may be body clipped through winter and will need extra layers to keep them warm and comfortable.
There are many combinations available that will make your rug shopping fun - from basic cottons, towel, polar fleece rugs to rain sheets, woollens, canvas and heavy winter rugs. It is usually recommended to have at least a cotton rug underneath heavier rugs as they are easier to wash and maintain. Some winter rug designs allow for a detachable neck which can provide a handy option depending on the weather.
The technology used with the design of the materials is also a key factor to consider in terms of breathability, durability, and overall comfort for your horse. So, while a cheaper rug may be cost effective at the time, another more expensive rug may be worth the expenditure in the long run.
Fitting Your Rug
When fitting your new rug, the neckline should sit well in front of the wither and do up firmly at the chest with minimal gap. If the neck is too big it will then slide back behind the wither and create pressure as the horse moves around causing rubbing.
If the rug has surcingles make sure they are firm against the belly, with a hand distance gap this will allow the horse to be comfortable, but not get its feet stuck as it gets up and down for a roll.
The leg straps should be the adjusted to the same length (firm enough so the rug can’t slip off to one side), and the straps should be looped through each other, clipping onto the same side from where they are attached. Try to ensure the clips are facing the horse to stop any chance of them getting caught on fences or becoming clogged with mud while your horse is enjoying a roll.
Whether your horse is in a paddock or stable, the rug should sit evenly over the back. If you find you need to keep adjusting or pulling the rug back to one side, it will cause discomfort and may present with rug patches on the shoulders.
What If The Rug Rubs
There are many different reasons horses get rub marks from their rugs, and this will occur especially in winter, when they might be wearing extra layers.
Horses come in all shapes and sizes, and some may be predisposed to rubbing. For example, if your horse is a light frame with a narrow chest, he might need the length (from chest to tail) but may need a smaller sizing around the neck. Alternatively, you may have a shorter horse, with a large chest and barrel, which may affect the standard sizing guides.
Like clothing brands, each brand can fit differently and suit a variety of breeds – from ponies, Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods to Arabs, Drafts and everything in between.
There are rug accessories available, which can help to alleviate rubbing, however it is better to avoid this with a well-fitting rug. This is where you need to talk to the staff at your local saddlery and get their advice on what brands will suit best your horses build.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, so that you can find the best option for you and your horse.