It’s important to keep your horse warm and healthy over winter, and fortunately these days there are many different options for winter rugs, depending on the type of horse, whether he’s clipped, how he’s kept (in or out, or a mix of both) and the temperature itself. Ordinary horse rugs for winter aren’t simply ‘one size fits all’ and you’ll need to decide which your own horse needs: horses stabled all day and night will usually need a warmer rug at night, as it’s much colder. This can be done by layering two and removing one in the morning, or simply by using a heavier one. Keep an eye on your horse to guide you – if he’s all sweaty under his rugs, take off a layer or opting for a lighter rug; if he seems tense and downright unhappy, with his hair standing on end and cold at the bottom of his ears, you can add a layer or choose a heavier rug.
The importance of choosing the right rug
Stable rugs differ from turn out rugs, and other horse rugs for winter, as they’re meant to keep your horse warm – and also clean and tidy – in the stable, as the name suggests, so, as they’re not intended for outside use, they don’t need to be waterproof (or often, quite as rug wrecker proof…) Most are manufactured from padded or quilted synthetic materials and in varying levels of thickness and weights, depending upon the degree of warmth required – a cuddly, chunky cob will probably be more comfortable in a lighter weight than an Anglo Arab, or highly bred warmblood showjumper, for example.
Lighter weight stable rugs tend to have no more than 150 grams of filling, medium weight stable rugs will contain about 150-300 grams, and a heavier weight stable rug will have over 300 grams of filling. Stable rugs will be breathable, allowing sweat to disperse, often with a specially designed anti friction lining, and can be bought in a variety of styles, designs and colours. Some stable rugs have slightly pleated sections to the shoulders which allow the horse more freedom to move around, as well as flexibility and comfort when rolling or lying down. Standard stable rugs don’t usually have a neck cover, but will often have d-rings or other fastenings to attach one, so that a neck cover can be used if required – perhaps the evening before a show to keep the mane nice and clean. Combination stable rugs will include a neck cover.
Top choices for this winter
· The Masta Climate Masta 100 Fixed Neck lightweight stable rug has an ergonomic neck design with shoulder gussets, adjustable one-click fastenings at the chest, and an anti-rub lining. There is also a specifically designed liner available.
· The Horseware Insulator Heavy Stable Rug is simple, warm and classic with a 300g filling for those on a budget.
· The WeatherBeeta Channel Quilt 420D Combo Neck Heavy stable rug featuring a channel-quilted finish. 360g filling for the coldest of nights, 210t lining for minimized rubbing and a shiny coat, side gusset for freedom of movement and a strong outer shell.
· With extra filling, the Mark Todd Quilted Medium weight Stable Rug also has an anti-rub lining, a strong 300 denier polypropylene outer shell and 250g filling. It has d-rings to fit a neck cover if required.
· Horseware’s Rambo range are always popular and the Rambo stable plus with vari-layer 450G is no exception. With an increased fill to key areas and a layering system, the outer is a whopping 1000 denier, and that cosy 450g filling. It is of course compatible with Horseware’s liner system.
Now you should have a clear idea about what your horse needs, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that you measure correctly as badly fitting rugs can be exceptionally uncomfortable for your horse and cause rubs which, apart from being painful for him, could also easily interfere with his other tack and thus impact on your riding or showing activities. There are many good equestrian retailers, and most will have a good range of winter horse rugs to choose from, and some, for example Ride4Less are very competitive price-wise. Stay warm and enjoy winter just as much as Summer!