Saturday 5th December, 2015
As the sub-zero temperatures set in, horse owners everywhere are rifling through their rugs to ensure their equine friends are warm and toasty when turned out. Cold weather can be particularly detrimental to vulnerable horses with injuries, illness or those who are elderly as the energy required to navigate the frozen tough terrain and combat the cold can leave them exhausted. Rugging up is not a necessity for all horses as the hardier, heavier breeds can withstand most winter weather. However even the heaviest horse with the fluffiest coat can benefit from a warm layer or two and so we have compiled a list of the five must have rugs that you need in your tack room.
The waterproof Turnout rug is one of the most versatile rugs on the market and one that you will use time and time again. Designed to keep your horse clean and dry when turned out in the paddock and also to keep him warm during the winter, Turnout rugs are available in a variety of different thicknesses and weights depending on the season it is to be used in and the breed of the horse is will be used on. Lightweight summer turnout rugs may be transformed to heavy weight winter rugs using under blankets and under rugs that can be easily removed making them perfect for tack rooms with limited storage space for multiple rugs.
The New Zealand rug is a traditional heavy waterproof rug that is made from a waxed cotton or canvas material that is super tough even in the wildest terrain. Like other turn out rugs, New Zealand rugs have optional attachments such as neck covers that can be added for extra protection. Their main difference is that they frequently have less padding than their Turnout counterparts, and furthermore these rugs require regular reproofing at least one to two times a year to maintain full waterproof qualities.
This rug is worn in the stable only, as it has no waterproofing nor durability against brambles and fencing that could easily scratch or tears the soft fabric. Most stable rugs consist of a breathable synthetic material in a quilted design and again are available in many different weights dependent on the temperature and horses individual needs. Horses that are stabled both day and night will require a heavier stable rug at night or at least would benefit from the addition of an under blanket or fleece rug to increase the weight and warmth.
Cooler rugs are used on horses immediately after exercise to wick away sweat from the coat and encourage a gradual cool down. These rugs can also be used as under blankets with other rugs to enable the horse to dry off safely on cold days and can even act as an extra blanket for warmth in the winter months.
An exercise sheet can be worn under or over the saddle and extends across the back of the hindquarters to keep the horse warm and dry whilst being ridden. Exercise sheets are often made from high visibility material in order to keep you and your horse visible whilst riding, especially in the dark winter days.