A turnout rug should provide your horse with protection from the elements while offering comfort and freedom of movement. But with so many on the market it’s hard to know where to start.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

A decent depth

To ensure he stays warm and dry, buy a rug that covers the sides of your horse’s belly and fits snugly underneath. Looking from the side, none of the belly should be visible, but the rug shouldn’t be so long that the horse risks standing on it when he gets up from rolling.

Easy fastenings

Most rugs have cross-surcingles under the belly and leg straps. Some rugs come with a fillet string, which makes fitting quicker. While they may not offer the security of legs straps, modern designs with fillet strings shouldn’t slip. Look for good quality fastenings that are easy and quick to secure.

Gussets and pleats

Some rugs have pleats or gussets in the shoulder area to allow the horse to move freely. They can be a useful feature to consider if your horse has a wide chest. Rugs that are too tight may rub the shoulders and cause discomfort. Always ensure there is ample room in this area.

Neck covers

Turnout rugs with a neck cover attached (usually described as a combo), or a separate neck that clips on, are great for warmth but may rub the mane. Avoid this by choosing one that is a generous fit and has a satin lining. Keeping the mane clean and using conditioner will help.

Top turnout rug tips

  • When purchasing a new rug, ask the store whether you can return it, if it’s the wrong size. That way you can try on the rug over a clean cotton sheet to ensure you are happy with the fit.
  • Be careful to check rug sizes carefully. Occasionally you will see rugs that are measured in centimeters rather than inches and feet. This measurement is taken from the withers to the top of the tail, so it’s important to get it right.
  • Get to know which makes of rug best fit your horse and stick to those brands. As well as measuring your horse, size up a well-fitting rug. Then take your tape measure to the store so you can compare it with the one you are thinking of buying.
  • When fitting belly and leg straps, allow one hand’s width between each strap and the horse’s skin. Any more may cause the rug to slip and any less could lead to rubbing or discomfort.
  • While your turnout rug might be a large initial outlay, look after it well and it should last you years. Check it regularly for signs of wear and tear, get it cleaned every year and have any small rips or tears repaired before they get bigger.