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  • April 20, 2023 5 min read

    Winter Rug Essentials 

    The temperature has started to drop, and for many of our horses, it means that their winter wardrobe can start coming out. As discussed is last week's blog, not all horses will need to be rugged, but in some circumstances owners may need to rug their horse to keep them warm and cozy. So, with this in mind, today's article will outline the different types of winter rugs available, and their differences, so that you can choose the best for your horse. 

    But first, let's talk denier and fill 

    When looking for a winter rug, you will often notice terms like denier and fill used to describe the rug. In order to choose the best rug for your horse, it is important to know what these terms mean. 

    Denier, refers to the fabric strength of the rug. The higher the denier, the stronger and more tightly woven the fabric of that rug is. But, this does not mean that the rug is waterproof! So, a higher denier rug will often be more suitable to horses that are rug wreckers, but keep in mind that these rugs tend to be heavier and more expensive. 

    The fill of the rug refers to how much polyfill is within the lining. You can think of polyfill almost like the stuffing that is in your pillow or doona, and it helps to keep your horse warm. You can buy rugs with 0g of polyfill to 200+g of polyfill! So, obviously the more polyfill in your rug, the warmer it will be. 

    Winter rugs for your horse's wardrobe 

    So now that we have an understanding of the denier and fill used in rugs, let's take a look at some rugs that can become a staple in your winter wardrobe. 

    Mole skin

    The mole skin rug is so versatile and should be a part of all winter wardrobes. The mole skin is like a cotton rug, except it is thicker and brushed on the inside. So, it is warmer than your ordinary cotton, and can be used as an undergarment to keep your heavy winter rugs clean. It can also be used by itself for those cooler autumn and spring nights, where a heavy rug isn't required. 

    It is recommended to use a cotton rug underneath heavier stable or turnout rugs, and the reason for this is the ease at which these can be washed and dried. It will also keep your heavy and somewhat harder to clean rugs, cleaner and prevent hairs from sticking to your warmer rugs. 

    The Rainsheet

    The rainsheet is exactly as the name implies, it is a rain sheet! These rugs are waterproof, and can have zero fill to 200+ fill, making them a great choice for those horses that need some extra warmth, and for those that don't! Most rainsheets are made from synthetic fibres, so they hold up really well in wet conditions, whilst still being breathable. These rugs are also lightweight and easy to manage. 

    The Turn Out Rug 

    The turnout rug is a rug for when your horse spends the majority of the day out in the paddock! They are generally a little heavier in fill than your standard rainsheet, and have a higher denier. Similarly to the rainsheet, these rugs are synthetic and hence waterproof, so they can withstand a lot of rain. They are also breathable and will keep your horse warm in the toughest of winter conditions. 

    The Canvas Rug 

    Canvas rugs are generally made from a cotton blend, with a wool lining. These are heavy, but strong rugs, and are extremely breathable given the types of fibres used to make them. Canvas rugs however aren't considered to be waterproof, however they can be showerproof. This means that they won't withstand heavy rain, hail or snow, and are best to be used in autumn and spring, on cooler days where there is a chance of rain! 

    The Stable Rug 

    As the name implies, the stable rug is designed for use in a stable. This type of rug is often warm (there are a range of polyfills available) and lightweight, but they are not waterproof! Due to the cozy nature of this rug, it has been designed so that you don't have to put multiple rugs on your horse. It is the perfect rug for older horses, clipped horses or for those that need extra warmth in the winter. 

    The Fleece or Woolen Rug 

    The fleece or woolen rug is generally used as a layering rug, so you can add it in under other rugs to provide extra warmth for your horse. You can also use these rugs pre and post exercise to keep your horse warm. Whilst the use of each rug is the same, the material used for each rug is vastly different. The fleece rug is made from polar fleece, a synthetic fibre that is designed to insulate. So, yes it will keep your horse warm, but it's breathability won't be as good as a natural fibre rug. The woolen on the other hand, is made from wool, a natural fibre that will keep your horse warm whilst also being extremely breathable. 

    But wait, how do I choose a rug?!

    The above list are some common types of winter rugs that you can use for your horse - but it doesn't mean you have to use every single one! Choosing the right rug for your horse is highly dependent on how much warmth your horse requires, and also how it is kept. For example, if your horse is stabled for part of the day, and doesn't need extra warmth, you may only choose to rug in a light rainsheet for those times it is paddocked in the rain. However, if your horse is clipped then it is going to need a warm and waterproof turnout rug, when it is turned out into the paddock. 

    Choosing the correct denier and polyfill can also be quite daunting. To help with that, you can use the below table as a guide. 


    Stabled (natural coat) 

    Paddocked (natural coat)

    Stabled (clipped)

    Paddocked (clipped) 

    15C and above



    Zero polyfill


    10C to 15C



    Light weight or zero polyfill 

    Nothing or zero to light weight polyfill

    5C to 10C

    Light weight polyfill

    Nothing or light weight polyfill

    Medium weight polyfill

    Light weight polyfill

    0C to 4C 

    Light or medium weight polyfill

    Nothing or light weight polyfill

    Heavy weight polyfill 

    Medium weight polyfill

    Light Weight (50g); Medium Weight (100 - 220g); Heavy Weight (200+g)

    It is important to note that the above table is a guide. You will need to factor in the wind chill, rain and general weather conditions that will affect the type and warmth of your rug. 

    At Oakford Stockfeeds we are here to help, and we hope that this article has helped you choose the best winter rugs for your horse! We are proud to offer a variety of horse rugs in store to keep your horse or pony happy and warm. We welcome you to visit us in store, or if you have a query about our rugs types or sizes, please reach us via phone, email or through our social channels!

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