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Choosing the Right Horse Rug


Horse carpets come in a wide variety, each serving a unique purpose. Therefore, deciding which type of rug you need for your horse is the first step in selecting a carpet. The following is a list of the most common rug categories and brief descriptions of their intended uses.

Throw Rug. This will prevent the horse from being bitten or stung by flies. Since they are often made of thin plastic sheeting or mesh and not a cloth rug, the term “fly sheets” is more appropriate. In the same vein, one can purchase “fly masks,” which are also available and keep flies away from one’s face, eyes, and ears. Being a thin sheet, they don’t stay much heat in or out but keep the wind and rain off.

Bath mats. These are used to insulate (keep the horse warm) and safeguard equines while in the elements. The weight of the insulation is a better indicator of its effectiveness than its thickness at keeping out the cold. As a result, the carpets with minimal insulation are called Lightweight Turnout carpets, and the rugs designed to provide the most warmth are called Heavy Turnout Rugs. There are also waterproof turnout rugs available.

Coolers. Despite their superficial similarity to turnout rugs, these serve distinct functions. They are meant to speed up the drying process by ‘wicking’ moisture away from the horse’s coat and to prevent the horse from chilling when wet (a wet horse can quickly become chilled if exposed to cold and wind while it has a damp jacket). Horses wear them after exercise on days with cool or windy weather, then take them off once they’ve dried off. We can also call these “sweat rugs” for short.

Rain pours down. These are often thin insulating films. Its primary function is to shield the horse from the rain and wind, but it also helps keep the animal warm.
Stable carpets. Stable blankets, also called durable rugs, are similar to turnout rugs in that they provide warm insulation but are designed to be used within the regular rather than outside.

Horse blankets. The area behind the saddle is covered with a saddle rug, often called a saddle pad. It softens the impact of the saddle on the horse’s back and prevents the harness from being worn down by the animal’s constant rubbing. Since the horse will likely perspire under the rug owing to the combination of exercise and the warming insulation given by the carpet, some models feature built-in ‘wicking’ materials to remove the sweat.

Exhibit carpets. The saddle is shown off with a show rug underneath. This colorful, lightweight carpeting serves primarily as decor. Due to its limited utility, it is often reserved for competitive or exhibition settings.
Furnishings for the summertime. These lightweight sheets, often known as “summer sheets” for horses, prevent the horse’s coat from becoming dirty while it rolls or lays down.

Woven in New Zealand. A canvas rug is used for turnout use. It’s not very warm, but the sturdy canvas makes it resistant to damage, wind, and rain (as long as it’s re-waxed as necessary).
Horse blankets. It’s weatherproof, yet it’s made for the horse to wear while being ridden.

The turnout rug is the most often utilized of the numerous varieties of equine rugs. The desired level of warmth is the first consideration while shopping for a carpet. Remember that a horse’s temperature can be just as uncomfortable if it’s too hot or cold. As a bonus, a rug prevents the coat from growing and, if it’s too warm, makes the horse lose its fur. Therefore, the carpet should be substantial enough to supply adequate warmth without being too hot. Several factors influence how much heat a specific horse needs:
Weather. One requires a warmer (heavier) turnout rug on a chilly winter than on a cold fall or spring day. The wind chill makes it necessary to wear extra layers in windy conditions. The insulating properties of the horse’s coat and the rug are diminished in wet weather unless both have a waterproof covering.
Condition of Health and Age. Young, robust, healthy horses have fewer chilling needs than older, weaker horses. A sick or elderly horse would benefit from a thick turnout rug on a cold day, whereas a healthier horse in the same area could get by with less insulation.

Coat thickness. A rug is not as necessary for a horse with a thick coat as it would be for one with a fine coat or one that has been clipped.
Exhibiting. Most people find that a horse with a thick coat doesn’t appear as lovely as a lighter coat. As a result, show horses typically wear a rug that is toasty enough to prevent their winter coat from growing. Because they must completely replace the insulation provided by the natural winter coat, these coats are relatively bulky for the horse’s situation. Show rugs and summer sheets are designed with the exhibitor in mind, not the horse.

Quantity of carpets. How many carpets are needed depends on the criteria above. A rug might not even be necessary for a young, healthy horse living in a calm environment. On the coldest days, a healthy horse in a northern region may be well with just a thin rug. Depending on the season and the horse’s condition, an aged or ailing equine may require more than one rug (for example, a lightweight turnout rug in the fall or spring, a medium-weight turnout rug in the autumn or winter).
The materials, quality, and features you may require might be considered once you’ve settled on the sort of rug and (in the case of warming rugs) the required weight. Here are a few typical components to think about:
Antibacterial. Rugs can be made antimicrobial with the proper treatment.
Breathable. Comfort and health are improved by carpets that allow moisture to evaporate and air to circulate the coat.

Coverage. Rugs are commonly used as coverings. In addition, some rugs come with neck covers, while others have these covers as an optional add-on.
Rugs can rub, especially on working or athletic horses, because of the fibers’ lack of elasticity. The most common areas of impact are the shoulders and chest. Some rugs feature anti-friction fabric at these spots to prevent the carpet from snagging or irritating the coat when being slid or moved. These ought to be sturdy, functional, and attached securely.

Insulation. Insulation density is commonly reported in terms of grams per square meter. For instance, a ‘300g’ rug provides 300 grams of insulation per square meter. The weight of insulation alone; does not include the rug’s fabric, straps, or buckles; therefore, the final rug weight will be greater. The heavier the carpet, the cozier it will be. This is an approximation, however, because different insulating materials have varied R-values and thermal efficiencies.
Rain. A rug might either be inappropriate for use in the shower, water resistant, or waterproof.

Ripstop or tear resistant. Rugs may be crafted from tear-resistant materials or weaves that prevent tears from spreading.
Washing. Rugs that can be washed in the washing machine are more practical.
Wicking. Dry the coat out as soon as possible.
After you’ve settled on those above, you’ll have a clearer idea of the kind of rug you want, how much warmth you need, and what other amenities you’d like. It comes down to pricing and quality now. As with most things, higher-quality rugs are also higher in price. If money is tight or you plan to use the carpet occasionally, a less expensive option may suffice. However, investing in a higher-quality rug is always worthwhile if your horse will be using it frequently. In addition, pick a rug that can withstand your horse’s activity level and the number of times it rolls by.
Dr. Doug Stewart, owner and author of Horse Care, has written on topics like Horse Rugs.

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