The horse rug is a piece of clothing used to keep the horse warm during cold temperatures and offer protection during bad weather. They are designed to fit around the horse’s chest to the rump. The rug is fastened underneath the horse’s belly with straps to ensure it is secure. There are horse rugs that are permanently closed and, therefore, must be slipped over the horses head.
The horse rug should be worn if you have clipped the horse. This is to ensure the horse does not get cold due to the loss of insulation from the removed coat.
The New Zealand Rug
The New Zealand rug is a long sturdy and bulky rug that is worn while the horse is in the pasture. It is designed to keep the horse warm and dry during harsh weather conditions. It is constructed of cotton that retains heat well and is also waterproof to keep the horse dry. The New Zealand rug must be long enough to protect the horses underside from wind and rain.
When you first release the horse out on pasture with the rug on, you must closely watch the horse in case the rug moves out of position. If it happens to slip tie the horse up and remove the rug completely and put it back on again. Moving the rug while it is on the horse will irritate it and cause it to become agitated.
The all in one rug are designed much lighter than the New Zealand rug. It allows the horse to be more flexible while wearing it. The all in one rug cover the head and neck completely with only the nose exposed.
When you first place the rug on the horse, it may resist the head cover but after an allotted amount of time the horse will become content with it. It is advised that you keep them in the stable to allow them to adjust the rug before real easing them on pasture.
The sweat sheet is a mesh rug worn after heavy exercise to provide warmth to the horse from the cooling sweat while still allowing the sweat to evaporate freely. Its light frame allows for quick fitting and its secure underneath the neck and at the rear.
When worn under a light rug, the mesh will trap air pockets which will insulate the horse from the cold.
The exercise sheet is a sheet that covers the back and hindquarters but leaves the shoulders exposed to prevent any obstructions during movement. It is usually worn when horses have been clipped to ensure the horse has adequate warmth to the horse. If the horse is carrying out a heavy exercise then it should not be worn as it will prevent sweat from evaporating. It could also cause the muscles to overheat.
The summer sheet is an alternative version of the New Zealand rug, the only difference being is it is much lighter. It is mainly used in the summer months because of this. The summer sheet contains breathable pockets to allow sweat to evaporate, because of this it is not waterproof. It provides a welcome relief to horses as it offers protection against flies.