Many horse owners clip their horse's hair coat short for show purposes or for increased performance in horse racing. To prevent illness and hair coats to grow long again, horse rugs are used, especially during winter. This will keep the horse dry and warm, which in turn will stop the hair coat from growing. Please note, horse rugs are also called horse blankets, or sheets if they are very thin.
There are several types of rugs, each one with a specific use. The most frequently used types are these:
- Anti-sweat sheets. Made from cotton and are mostly used after competition or training to absorb sweat. Should be removed once the horse is dry.
- Fly sheets. Serve two functions. They help ward off flies, but can also be used to shield from the sunlight's harmful UV-radiation. Because they are used during summer, they have to be thin. Otherwise, overheating could be a problem.
- Stable rugs are used within cold stables to keep the horse warm and clean.
- Turnout rugs are the most common. They exist with different kind of lining and insulation depending on weather and climate, but the outer layer is almost always waterproof. Protects the horse from the elements.
- Quarter sheets are perhaps the least common of the five rugs mentioned. They only cover the back of the horse to keep the muscles warm and loose. The other rugs cover the entire body.
Two common mistakes that you should avoid doing are:
- Putting a wet horse rug on your horse. Some owners do that in order for the rug to dry, but that is absolutely wrong. The muscles will get cold and stiff, which can cause a strain or injury.
- Using the same rug on more than one horse. Never do that. Skin infections are easily transferred which will cost a lot of money to get rid of. Be wise, and buy each horse their own rug.
So, how do you know which model and size to buy? Well, the model depends on what function you want. Are you going to use it only inside the stable? Buy a stable rug. Do you need it for when the horse is outside in the paddock? Get a turnout rug. And so on. Size is a bit trickier. Best thing is if you can try a few out on your horse before deciding which one to buy. You should be able to get your hand in between the rug and your horse's back, but not more. If it is too large, the horse can stumble and fall, and possibly injure itself. A rug that is too tight can cause skin irritations and even infections because of abrasion between rug and skin.
Since it is important to try the rug out on your horse before buying it, I really recommend that the first time you buy a rug for your horse, you visit your local horse shop where you can get the help you need. Once you have found the perfect horse rug, there is no need to buy the next one in a physical shop. Online shops, generally speaking, have lower prices, so that's where I would recommend a visit once you have worn out the first one.