New Zealand's climate varies greatly, ranging from warm subtropical in the far north to cool temperate climates in the far south. It's therefore essential to choose the correct cover to ensure that your horse is protected from the elements all year round.
Selecting the right cover can be overwhelming with so many options available on the market. But the good news is that we're here to help and have outlined our recommendations below.
Sizing: Measure your horse
The first step in determining the size of your cover is to measure your horse's height (hh = hands high).
Follow the below steps to accurately measure your horse's height:
- Grab a measuring tape or stick
- Stand your horse on a level surface and hold the tape/stick vertical to the ground whilst 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.
Selecting the correct weight/fill for winter rugs
The warmth of a cover is determined by the "fill". The fill is measured in grams per square meter. The higher the fill, the warmer the rug. Our rugs come in No Fill, 50g, 100g, 200g and 300g. Choosing the correct weight is critical to keep your horse comfortable through the cooler months.
Here are 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 much better than they can cool themselves down when covered, so go for a lighter rug if you are unsure.
- Choose a rug that has easy on/off attachments so you're not standing around in the rain.
- Check your horse regularly to ensure that your horse is not overheating or too cold.
- Take into consideration the age of your horse and their ability to stay warm.
- As a basic guideline, we recommend rugging your horse if temperatures drop below 5-10 degrees.
- Ensure your rug is waterproof; no rug at all is better than a wet one.
If you would like to remove the guesswork, 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 which cover to use!
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. For example, my horse is 16.2 hh, but he may be a little slimmer or larger in the midsection, or he could be longer or shorter than other 16.2 hh horses!
How do you choose? Here are a few helpful tips:
- 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, chafing, and discomfort.
- The front of the rug should be done up so that the Velcro overlaps completely and the buckles should not be pulling on his chest.
- The end of your horse's rug should not be hanging down over his butt; the extra weight will cause the rug to pull on your horse's shoulders.
- To allow freedom of movement and to prevent chafing, 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.
Which lining should I choose? Synthetic vs Cotton
The mostly commonly used lining is nylon/synthetics. Synthetic linings tend to be more durable, lighter, cooler, last longer and tend to slide over the coat better than cotton, preventing rubbing.
While synthetic is better for most horses, cotton does have better wick-ability and if your horse has skin issues then cotton lined may be a better option.
If you already have a synthetic lined rug and don't want to fork out out for a cotton lined, you can always use a Summer Cotton cover as a liner underneath your Turnout Rug.
Make sure it's waterproof!
We can't stress this enough, it's extremely important that your rug is waterproof! Your horse is naturally able to fluff up his coat with the individual hairs standing up, rather than laying flat against the skin, trapping air close to his body and thereby insulating him from the cold. A wet rug will inhibit your horse's natural ability to do this, you are better off with no cover at all than a wet one.
Regularly check your horse's rug is waterproof, especially after heavy rain as covers tend to lose their waterproofing as they age. You can buy over the counter products to reproof it or have it professionally reproofed.
What is a 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. It will also outlast a 600D rug as well as still being lightweight and breathable when compared to a 1680D.
Choosing your horse's summer rug
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 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 horse's 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, which is 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 factors 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.