Rug Fitting Guide
Horse Rug Size Chart
|Back Seam||UK Measurement Overall Length||Fit Approximately||Regular Neck Circumference|
When deciding on which size of rug to purchase, measure an existing rug that fits well when possible. Lay it flat on the ground and measure from the front edge, along the side to the back edge. Alternatively, measure from the centre of the horse’s chest to a line vertical with the top of the tail.
Modern fabrics are very waterproof, however, horses may sweat up inside rugs if they are too warm and cause dampness on the inside. Also in heavy rainwater may run inside the neckline or through stitched areas such as binding and cross surcingles. To minimise problems waterproof your rugs every season.
This chart is a guide only – Actual sizing of individual manufacturer’s products may vary.
Types of Horse Rug
There are many different types of horse rug on the market manufactured to suit a variety of purposes. You should be quite clear that you are buying a rug suitable for your purposes. The following glossary of terms will give you an indication of what particular purpose a rug was intended for:-
TURNOUT RUG – A generic term that can encompass both New Zealand and/or Paddock rugs.
NEW ZEALAND RUG – New Zealand is an old term usually referring to a canvas rug suitable for horses turned out in a field.
RIPSTOP – Refers to the material and describes a way of modifying the warp and weft of a fabric to enable it to contain rips and tears. Usually a man-made toughened fabric this does not mean that it is impossible to rip. It will not stop barbed wire tears.
EXTRA DEEP – A rug that extends further down the horse to give more protection to the belly and legs.
WATERPROOF/WATER RESISTANT – This refers to the outer fabric of the rug, which will not allow water to pass from the outside through to the horse’s skin. Any rug advertised as waterproof is referring to the fabric used for the rug, rather than the whole product. This is because rugs contain stitching and fastenings that cannot be tape seamed to prevent water penetration. Although threads swell to fill out stitching holes. Movement is just as likely to stretch the seams. Ideally, you should always be prepared to change a rug that has been subjected to hours of heavy rain for a spare dry one and dry off the original.
TEAR PROOFING – Although manufacturers use materials and fittings suitable for a horse’s strength, everything used must have a breaking point for your horse’s safety. It would be dangerous to the horse to make a rug so strong that it would not give way when your horse gets caught up or trapped in an obstacle. To protect your horse and its rug you should ensure that it cannot come into contact with barbed wire or sharp projections.
BREATHABLE – This refers to the capability of the rug to allow sweat and moisture to pass from the horse’s skin to the outside. This is achieved by a membrane or coating (hydrophilic layer) allowing tiny water molecules or vapour to be drawn away from the horse’s skin and through the outer material.
CHEST OR BREAST STRAPS – Self-explanatory – nearly every rug has either one or two of these fastenings across the chest of the horse.
CROSS SURCINGLES – Straps that cross underneath the belly of the horse and physically hold the rug in position. Rugs using this system do not normally need to be so deep.
LEG STRAPS – Straps that are anchored both on the rear edge of the rug on the quarters and on the main body of the rug just beyond the stifle. They also help keep the rug in position.
TAPED SEAMS – This refers to a taping method used to cover seams on the inside of the rug to provide a physical barrier to prevent water leaking through. This can only be done with the rug fabric and not with any fittings or badges stitched onto the rug.
POLYFILL – Polyfill is measured in grammes –the higher the grammes the more fill there is per square metre, and the warmer your horse will be.
DENIER – Denier is the weight of yarn in a given area of fabric. The higher the denier, the tougher the fabric.
How To Buy The Right Size Rug
Ensuring the correct fit is vital. Most rugs are sized in 3″ increments. The size measurement refers to the distance from the middle of the chest to the point of tail/point of quarters — where you wish the rug to finish. A rug will not stay in place unless it fits properly. A badly fitting rug will slip and be strained to breaking point.
Horses come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If a horse is exceptionally broad in the back it may be necessary to buy the next size up in relation to his height.
Alternatively, it may be necessary to look at several different makes or styles. As in human clothing, some styles or makes fit better than others.
Should you have a large fronted/heavy horse, we also advise that you take a measurement of the circumference of the neck. This will provide a good indication of whether or not an extra-large neck size is required.
It is advisable to allow the dual purpose rugs to finish beyond the point of the quarters to allow plenty of room in the rug for your horse to gallop and roll freely.
Common Problems with Incorrectly Fitted Rugs
- A rug that is too big is actually more likely to cause rubs that one that is too small, and this can be dangerous.
- The surcingles on an incorrectly fitted rug may be too long and the horse’s leg can get caught, which could cause serious injury to your horse and damage the rug/ blanket.
- If the neck of the rug is too big, the rug will hang off the back of the horse, which will place pressure on the shoulders and increase the possibility of rubbing and slippage. The horse may also be in danger of stepping on the back of the rug when they try to stand after rolling.
A good point to note: If the seam between the tail flap and the rug falls below the top of the tail, the rug is too big.
Remember, if your horse is comfortable in his properly fitted rug he will be much happier to stay dressed. A poorly fitted blanket will be uncomfortable for your horse and he may try to get it off.
Taking the above correct fitting steps will ensure that your rug will not rub and will provide maximum freedom of movement.
Fitting Instructions For Rugs With Neck Covers
To achieve the perfect fit it is best to take the trouble to make the following checks before using the rug.
- Put the rug on the horse and fasten belts.
The crossover surcingles should be evenly adjusted so that you can easily slip the flat of your hand between the belly and the belt. Too loose, and the belts may become unfastened when the horse rolls.
- With the neck cover turned back, make sure that the horse has plenty of room around the neckline and the point of the shoulder.
- Now check the length of the rug — the end of the rug should finish just past the end of the horse’s quarters so that the horse is completely covered.
- Put the neck cover gently up the neck — remember, if your horse has never worn a neck cover before, it may take him a while to get used to it, so be careful not to startle him.
- When the horse is relaxed fasten the front fittings, these should fit without the elastic being stretched at all.
- Now you need to check that there is sufficient room for the horse to move and graze without straining any part of the rug.
- Adjust the fillet string and tie securely with sufficient room to allow the hind legs to extend when galloping.
- With the horse on a lead take him for a walk and pick of grass. This will allow the rug to settle into position so that you can finally assure yourself that you have a perfect fit.
- Check that you can slip your hand up the front of the neck to make sure that he is not straining on the neck fittings when he is grazing and that the rug has not pulled forward at the quarters exposing his rump.
If the neck is straining and the rug is pulling forward you will need a larger size.
If the rug is long enough in the body but the neck is straining you should consider the following solutions:
- If you feel the horse needs more room around the neck and shoulders you may need an extra deep neck size.
- Extra deep necks generally have extra each side at the front to give extra across the chest. Therefore an extra deep neck size will also measure extra in the overall length, for example: a 6’6″ regular neck rug will measure 6’6″ along the bottom and a 6’6″ extra deep neck will measure 6’9″ along the bottom.
Most modern good quality dual purpose rugs are made using ultra-tough hi-tech fabrics which are then coated with a micro-porous formula making the fabric waterproof. This means that the outer fabric will resist the penetration of rain through the outside and still allow sweat or condensation caused by the horse’s body heat to slowly evaporate through, depending on the rug. Therefore it is beneficial to leave the rug on the horse until all of the moisture has had time to evaporate through the outer fabric. This stops the horse from getting a chill and ensures the heat from the horse allows the micro-porous coating to do its job.
Use a recommended proofer and/or sealer for the rug you have chosen or take it to a reputable rug care company.
How to Care for your Horse Rug
A horse rug is the same as any other item of clothing in that if it is removed when it is still wet or damp it should be hung up in a dry, well-ventilated area. Occasionally, in heavy rain, some moisture penetration may occur in the sewn areas of the rug. This is not significant and due to the positioning of the stitching will not affect the performance of the rug — that is to keep even the most adverse weather out!
Modern rugs are designed so that there is a “breaking point” for your horse’s safety and it would be dangerous to the horse to make a rug so strong that it would not give away in the event of your horse getting caught or trapped in an obstacle.
Rugs should be removed and both rug and horse checked daily. They should never be put on a wet horse.
There will come a time when exceptionally rough weather or accidental damage will mean that you need a replacement for a few days while your main rug is dried or repaired.
Do not wait until things go wrong before having a contingency plan. You should not expect to go through the whole winter with just one rug.
Straps, fittings and stitching should be checked and cleaned regularly. Rugs need reproofing from time to time to maintain their weather resistance.
At the end of the season, a rug should be thoroughly dried and cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You may also need to have any damage repaired before the next season.
It is advisable to have stable rugs cleaned regularly; dirty rugs may cause skin irritation. Outdoor rugs may only need hosing over a gate to clean the worst of the mud and dirt off – Nylon and some modern synthetic linings tend not to collect dirt and grease and may only need a sponge down. If you decide to wash your horse’s rug at home remove excess dirt and hand wash following the manufacturer’s washing instructions.
Use mild, non-biological soap – anything else may compromise the waterproof properties of turnout rugs. Drip dry, not tumble dry. Do not dry clean.
Please note: Handwashing will help prolong the life of your rug’s waterproof/breathable coating. Rugs should be kept in a dry airy place until ready for use.
Please remember that when returning your rug for repair or replacement it should be clean and dry. It is not only extremely unpleasant for someone to have to handle a manure stained muddy rug but it also contravenes the Health and Safety at Work Act 1972.