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  • January 25, 2024 4 min read

    Choosing the Right Rug for Your Horse

    As the weather heats up, so do the flies! For some horse owners, this can be a big problem as  horses can become hot and sweat under their rugs, but will also be troubled by fly bites. On the other hand, some horses will have a tendency to rip their rugs, and so it can be a delicate balance in finding a rug that is strong, but also cool. In this article, we will explore the various types of summer rugs available in the Australian market, including cotton, mesh, hybrid and flag rugs. Each rug type offers distinct advantages and some may be suitable for some horses than others. The article will also finish with our top tips for choosing the right rug for your horse. 

    Summer Rugs

    Summer rugs serve various purposes, ranging from shielding horses from flies and pesky insects to preventing them from getting sun-faded. These rugs are easily washable and can even be utilized beneath heavier winter rugs, aiding in keeping the latter clean. The Australian market offers a diverse array of summer rugs, including those crafted from cotton, mesh, hybrid materials, and flag patterns.

    1. Cotton rugs

    Cotton rugs stand out as one of the most sought-after options due to their versatility and exceptional breathability. While primarily composed of cotton (approximately 60%), these rugs often incorporate synthetic fibers like polyester to enhance durability and reduce costs, as pure cotton can be pricey. It's essential to consider the polyester-to-cotton ratio, as a higher polyester content can make the blanket uncomfortably warm for horses in scorching summer conditions, leading to increased static electricity. Cotton rugs can be used year-round, serving as excellent summer rugs by providing insect protection and sun-bleaching prevention. Moreover, they can be used underneath heavier winter rugs to maintain cleanliness. Cotton rugs are known for their durability, with the ability to endure over time, and they can be easily repaired if needed.

    2. Mesh/Fly rugs

    Mesh rugs represent a relatively recent addition to the market. These rugs vary in weight, ranging from extremely lightweight to somewhat heavy, akin to shade cloth. The mesh design facilitates air circulation, theoretically helping to keep horses cooler. However, these rugs are constructed entirely from polyester, which lacks breathability. Consequently, in extreme heat, these rugs may cause horses to sweat excessively. On the positive side, mesh rugs dry quickly, offering respite if a horse gets caught in a summer shower. Durability can be a concern as the mesh fabric is prone to snags and tears. These rugs might not be as effective at repelling insects (as insects can bite through the mesh) or providing sun protection compared to cotton sheets.

    3. Hybrid rugs

    Hybrid rugs represent a blend of cotton sheets and mesh rugs. Typically, the upper half of the rug (from the horse's back to the lower part of their belly) is composed of a cotton/polyester blend, while the lower half features mesh fabric. This design aims to enhance airflow with the mesh inserts, while the cotton sheet on top ensures breathability. Hybrid rugs excel in both sun and insect protection. They tend to be sturdier than plain mesh rugs and offer greater comfort due to their cotton's breathability. These rugs are superior in insect and sun protection compared to plain mesh rugs.

    4. Flag rugs

    Flag rugs resemble cotton sheets but are crafted from an extremely lightweight fabric (approximately 150 - 190gsm) with an open, loose weave akin to cheesecloth. As a result, they offer exceptional cooling properties, allowing ample breathability and air circulation. However, they are not known for durability and can easily tear or fall apart if a horse engages in rolling, playing with other horses, or scratching. Nonetheless, flag rugs are well-suited for scorching summer days, providing cooling comfort and effective insect and sun protection.

    How to Choose the Right Rug for Your Horse

    There are lots of things to consider when buying a summer horse rug. Our top tips to keep in mind before choosing the most ideal rug for your horse include:

    1. If you’re shopping online, taking proper measurements of your horse is very important. Horses are measured from the front of their chest to their hind legs. Once measured, choose the best measurements from the products detail list. 
    2. Your horse shape can limit your rugging choices. Horses that are rounder or have a deeper girth will need a bigger and a deeper rug to cover his body well. 
    3. Always choose rugs that fits your horse well to prevent rubbing and injury. 
    4. Remember that every horse is different. The number, the thickness, and the size of rug can vary from one equine to another. 
    5. Rug injury are common among horses with badly fitted rugs. A rug is a good fit if it allows your horse to move freely. If your horse’s size is between the measurements, it’s better to go for the one that’s slightly big instead of the smaller piece. Small sized rugs can restrict movement and cause rubbing. 
    6. If you’re going to rug your horse for the first time, opt for a lighter rug and increase the weight as needed as soon as he gets used to it. 
    7. Choose a rug that fits with your horse’s individual needs. Make sure it’s suitable for his weight, breed, environment, and physical needs. 
    8. Repair damaged horse rugs immediately.

    Choosing the right rug for your horse can unfortunately be a trial and error experience. What works for one horse, may not work for the other! At Oakford Stockfeeds we have a wide range of summer rugs available at affordable prices. So, make sure to visit us in-store or online if you are looking for your next horse rug!

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