A guide to buying rugs

Need a rug but not sure which one is the most suitable? Stumped by sizing and specifications? Don’t panic, here are our top tips to help demystify rug buying:

· Sizing - getting the right sized rug is really important - measure from the centre of the horse’s chest, along the side of the horse, to where you expect the rug to finish. This is the rug size you need.

· Fit - if you are in any doubt as to whether your horse’s new rug is going to fit him, try it carefully before you remove the tags. Keep all packaging and labels attached to the rug and try over something like a clean bed sheet. If the rug is kept in perfect condition, there should be no issue with returning it.

· Rugs come in set sizes, and go up in three inch increments. If your horse is 6’1” in length, you need to decide whether you were being generous with your measurement and a 6’ would suffice, or if a 6’3” would give welcome extra coverage.

· Style - in general, there are three different styles of rug - standard neck, half neck and full neck. If you don’t know which one to buy, this might help:

- Standard neck rugs cover the horse’s back, hind quarters and shoulders, leaving the neck entirely exposed. Standard neck rugs are ideal for horses who have unclipped necks, as they might not need any additional warmth in that area.

- Half neck rugs bridge the gap between the standard neckline and a full neck. They can help prevent rain getting under the rug and wetting the shoulders, they also provide extra warmth up the neck.

- Full neck rugs are great for sensitive horses, those who feel the cold, clipped horses and for really cold conditions. For clipped horses, neck covers add an extra layer to make up for any hair that has been removed. Another benefit of a full neck rug is that it can help to keep the horse clean, as it provides a barrier between the horse and any mud or muck.

· Fill - we all want our horses to be warm and comfortable all year round. Whilst some horses need heavyweight full neck turnout and stable rugs, some don’t, and would be much happier with a lighter weight rug that would keep them at a better temperature. Assessing what rug you need can be tricky, but here are some key questions to ask:

- Is my horse old or sensitive? Old horses and those who are more sensitive to temperature might require rugs with more fill.

- Am I going to clip my horse? If you’re removing your horse’s natural protection against the cold weather, looking at rugs to replace this is a good idea.

- Is my horse a native breed and does he/she grow a thick woolly coat? Horses who are used to typical seasonal weather and grow a thick coat may only require a lightweight turnout rug, as they already have their own insulation.