New Zealand’s climate varies greatly, ranging from warm subtropical in the far north to cool temperate climates in the far south. It’s important to choose the correct cover to ensure your horse is protected from the elements, insects and sun damage. With so many covers on the market, choosing the right one can be overwhelming.
We are here to help! Whether your horse is in the depth of winter or near the equator, follow these suggestions…
Sizing: Measure your horse
The first step in determining the size of your cover is to measure your horse’s height (hh = hands high). To measure your horse, grab a measuring tape or stick. Stand your horse on a level surface and hold the tape/stick vertical to the ground, placing the top of the tape/stick at the horse’s withers. Record this measurement to determine hh. For example, if my horse measures 66 inches, divide 66 by 4. The total is 16.5. In this example, 16 is the number of hands and the .5 is considered half a hand, or 2 inches. My horse is 16.2 hh.
See our below sizing chart to estimate what size horse rug you will need:
Fitting for comfort
Now that you know the size of your horse, it is important to remember that although your cover has tabs to tighten or loosen, fitting for comfort is paramount. My horse is 16.2 hh, but my horse may be a little slimmer or bit larger in the midsection; or my horse may be longer or shorter than other 16.2 hh horses!
How do you choose? Here are a few helpful tips…
- To prevent the cover from slipping, it must fit up over the shoulders and withers for freedom of movement.
- The cover must not be too loose or too tight. If it’s too loose, the cover may slip, and your horse will have problems when rolling, sleeping, or moving in general. If it’s too tight, the cover may cause unwanted rubbing, chaffing, and discomfort.
- Any pressure from the cover must be avoided. If the cover’s shape is distorted, it’s not the right size.
- If your horse is a bit larger around the mid-section and the Velcro is snug, your cover may be too small. If your horse is slimmer and the Velcro is too loose, your cover may be too large.
- To allow freedom of movement and to prevent chaffing, adjust the leg straps equally until there is room for the width of one hand between the leg straps and the horse’s thigh.
- Check your horse often and always look for any signs of rubbing.
What weight / fill do I need for winter rugs?
The warmth of a cover is determined by the “fill”, fill is measured in grams per square meter. The higher the fill, the warmer the rug. Our rugs come in no fill, 100g and 200g. Choosing the correct weight is critical to keep your horse warm and comfortable through the cooler months.
Here’s a few ideas to prepare and rug your horse in winter …
- If your horse is clipped, a heavier gram fill may be required.
- Horses can warm themselves up easily, but cannot cool themselves down when covered, so go for a lighter rug if you are unsure.
- Choose a blanket that is easy on/off to protect yourself from the elements.
- Check your horse regularly to ensure that your horse is not over heating or too cold.
- Take into consideration the age of your horse and your horse’s ability to stay warm.
- We recommend rugging your horse if temperatures drop below 5-10 degrees
See our below fill guide:
If you would like to remove the guess work, we suggest using Orscana. A health and activity monitor that fits into the inside of your rug. Download Orscana’s app to your smartphone and let it determine the best rug for your horse – it even checks the weather forecast and predicts what cover to use!
Which lining should I choose?
Most horse owners prefer a nylon rug lining because it is more durable, slides over the horse freely without pulling the coat, and is suitable for most weather conditions. You can purchase polycotton outer covers that have a synthetic-satiny nylon lining at the shoulders, main, and tail flap, like the Summer Cooler Combo. Or, if you prefer, a cotton lining is less expensive. However, cotton is warmer, and may induce sweating, which takes longer to dry. Our Fleece Show Rug Cover may be used as an under-rug lining for warmth, durability, and comfort.
Waterproof is best!
A wet coat due to a leaky rug creates an uncomfortable environment for your horse and inhibits it’s ability to warm itself! It is imperative that you choose a cover that is completely waterproof if rain is forecasted, to avoid compromising your horse’s health and well-being! Here are a few suggestions…
- A waterlogged cover inhibits your horse’s natural ability to keep itself warm. No cover at all is better than a wet cover.
- Our Waterproof Mesh CrossOver High Neck cover is 100% waterproof and features mesh side panels for maximum breathability, great for those showery Autumn and Spring days.
- Always remember that during the warmer months, your rain sheet should be removed in the morning if no rain is forecasted, and replaced at night.
- Regularly check that your cover is still waterproof, especially during heavy downpours.
- Washing your rug in the washing machine may remove the waterproofing.
- If you have a cover that is not waterproof, I personally recommend using Bee Kind Heavy Duty Beeswax Waterproofing (we have no affiliation with this product, it’s just awesome)!
What is denier?
Good question! Denier refers to the strength of the cover’s outer shell, the higher the Denier, the thicker the weave and the stronger the material. The most common rugs will be 600D, 1200D and 1680D – 1200D is a good middle ground and offers superior strength and durability and will far outlast a 600D rug as well as still being lightweight and breathable when compared to a 1680D.
Our Duke 1200D No Fill Rug is 1200 denier, heavy duty waterproof – with a Ripstop Outer can take on tough environments. Choose a denier weight that is suitable for the comfort of your horse.
Choosing horse rug for summer
Ah, summer! Choosing a rug for summer is simple! Get rid of annoying biting flies, bots, midges, ticks and sunburn! Here are some pointers to help you choose wisely…
- Biting flies and ticks can be a real nuisance to both horse and rider. A mesh sheet such as our Zebra Mesh Fly Combo provides optimum air flow with UV protection, as well as protection against flies, bots, and midges. The Zebra fabric is not only awesome, but the pattern is proven to deter flies!
- UV protection is especially important for light coloured horses who are sensitive to skin cancer and sunburn or if you want to reduce sun damage to your horses coat. Check out our Cotton Summer Cooler Combo for the ultimate UV protection.
- Always choose a summer sheet that is lined at the shoulder, neck and tail to prevent rubbing.
- Our favourite is the Summer CrossOver Cooler it’s a great durable sheet for horses that are tough on covers. It is a combination of cotton and mesh; a cotton upper ensures the best UV protection from the sun, while the tough, durable mesh allows optimum air flow to keep your horse cool. These combined, result in a durable summer sheet that provides both optimal UV protection, is highly breathable and deters flies with the zebra patterned mesh.
- Summer requires a fly mask, too. Try our Fly Mask that provides UV protection as well as protecting the ears and nose from flies.
If you have any further questions, we would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best and happy riding from the team at nztack!