How I choose horse covers - @nzmares

How I choose horse covers - @nzmares

Wow, what a blooming awful summer New Zealand! With cyclones and record flooding and record rain and strong winds and muggy heat... 

My normal rugging routine didn't work this year, and I was so glad to have an unlined Waterproof Mesh Crossover horse cover (standard neck) which kept the heavy rain off while it was still warmer! It held up so well, staying dry even in Cyclone Gabrielle.

How I use horse covers in summer

In the hottest days of summer, I use a cotton sheet on Juno. She's black, and her back gets so hot to the touch that if I leave her uncovered, by the end of the day she is covered with white crystals of salt. That must be a huge drain on her body and metabolism, so I use a white cotton sheet to keep her cooler. 

I use a summer sheet on Trinny less often as she isn't as dark, but some days she is cooler with one, and a cotton sheet is definitely worthwhile to keep her clean the night before any shows, as she is a great fan of rolling thoroughly!

My winter horse rug routine

Because we are in the Auckland region, we don't experience many nights below zero and 100gm horse covers are the warmest fill my horses ever need. If the weather is fine but cold, I might pop on an unlined rug at night just to keep the breeze off, but during the day my horses will be un-rugged. 

If we have light rain that goes on for days I use the unlined rug just to save Juno's sensitive skin from reacting and getting irritated by the damp. In bad weather I will use a 100gm combo as we do get quite a bit of wind which makes the rain much chillier.

My checklist for choosing the right horse rug

Think about the horse. Is she:

  • young and strong, or older and feels the wind more
  • chunkier and holds heat well, or lean from fitness training
  • relaxing after a quiet day, or tired from a big ride or show day,
  • fuzzy with thick winter fur, or has a fine and silky coat
  • well fed with a full stomach (which generates warmth as it digests), or hungry
  • warm behind the ears, or cool already

What about her environment? Is she:

  • in a sheltered field, or on an exposed hill with strong wind
  • in light-medium rain, or torrential downpour
  • in temperatures above 5 degrees, or colder?

If your horse ticks any of the second options, consider a horse cover with 50gm or more, and maybe a neck cover; or pop an under rug beneath an unlined cover for extra warmth and to help it stay waterproof. 

If your answers were all the first option, your horse won't be needing a rug. You can choose to pop one on to keep them clean, or a little warmer, but think about using an unlined or 50g horse cover, and maybe choose one without a neck rug.

I really like that if I use a light horse rug without a neck-cover, my horses can self regulate their temperatures much more if the sun comes out for an hour, or if the day gets warmer.

If it comes down to it, I would always prefer that my horse get too cold for a while, than too hot. They are, after all, designed to live outdoors, and cope with snow and storms. They can find shelter and turn their butts to the wind and rain. But there is no escape from being too hot in a rug they can't take off, and this can make horses seriously ill, even leading to colic in severe cases.

My nztack horse covers

Trinny is half Friesian so she's even chunkier than Quarterhorse Juno. She has a very dense winter coat designed to cope with snowy Dutch winters, and a thick mane and tail. It takes a lot for her to get cold, and I only need to use her 100gm rug her when it's raining heavily, or raining and very chilly or very windy. For normal rain, I just pop on an unlined rug with no neck and she's warm as toast.

I chose: The Duke Combo.

This rug fits so well and provides generous cover for her large neck, chest and quarters, without being too long in the body and hanging down at the back. 

Juno has a very short, silky and fine winter coat, so she gets cold more easily. A 100gm rug keeps her super cosy in bad weather, but an unlined rug without a neck is perfect for normal rainy days.

I chose: The Ultra-Shield Combo.

I love that I can see Juno across the field even when she's in the shade. I like the generous tail flap as it keeps her butt warm in the wind. This cover fits really nicely and doesn't rub her shoulders. 

I also chose the standard neck, unlined Crossover Mesh Rug for Juno, as the mesh sides let more breeze through on light days, while the canvas has proven to be super waterproof through all the torrential rain this summer while it was too hot for a lined cover. It also saved her skin from getting irritated and reacting to the damp heat.

The verdict

Apart from the mud splattered on them (twice as much on Miss Trinny's of course) my nztack rugs still look brand new. They have generous velcro patches, generous necks, and nice 'snip closed' clips on the chest and leg straps that make life easy. The fit of all of them is fantastic.

They are warm and waterproof, and my girls have been snuggly through some serious storms. In particular I was so impressed that the unlined cover remained waterproof through some really heavy rain. 

In summary, I'm really happy with the quality and style, and very grateful for these rugs! Thanks nztack!

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