Let’s talk rugs…! We all love buying them, we all have a growing collection and never know when to throw away that rug with 50 rips and no buckles left because one day we might need it and if we're honest we're also a little bit attached to it. But do we know what we’re buying, how they work and how to care for our turnout rugs? This guide is the ultimate guide to horse rugs, we'll answer your questions including "what horse rug do I need", "how do I wash horse rugs" and "what is denier in horse rugs?".
Horse turnout rugs - what horse rug do I need?
There are so many types, styles and weights of rugs available these days, and they're accompanied by technical words to describe what they do that it can sometimes be hard to know what to buy.
So, let’s start with...what is denier in horse rugs?
Denier is a word we see all the time when it comes to rugs, this refers to the strength of the outer fabric of the rug. The stronger the rug, the higher the denier. So, if your horse is a rug wrecker or likes to climb out of his rug, you’d probably be more tempted to buy one with a higher denier such as 1200 denier plus. It will be far more durable and is more likely to withstand your horses, shall we say, playful behaviour! If the quiet life best describe your horse, a 600 denier rug could suit them just fine. It’s important not to confuse a higher denier with being more waterproof as this isn’t the case.
Horse rugs and rain, turnout rugs for horses, the ins and outs...
Turnout rugs need to be waterproof, thanks to the great British weather we can always expect the rain to fall, and who wants to trudge across the field to ride and bring in a soggy wet horse?
So, what makes your horse rug waterproof?
A waterproof membrane is coated to the inside of the fabric, this stops water from passing through the fibres of the fabric. Fabrics are rated for their waterproof qualities; a rating of 3000 - 5000 WP is a good standard rating that is capable of keeping your horse dry in moderate rainfall. Whilst fabric is rated as waterproof it’s important to remember that over time and general wear the waterproofing will start to break down and rain will eventually seep through the fabric and seams. The outer fabric works hard repelling water in wet weather conditions. Under constant heavy rain pressure, however, water can make its way through the fabric if the fabric's doesn't have a high enough waterproof rating.
Which horse rugs for when, a good horse rug needs to breathe...
As well as being waterproof, it's important your rug allows breathability. As humans we know there’s nothing worse than wearing a jacket out on a walk that doesn’t breathe, hello clammy armpits! Well, this is the same for your horse, the fabric of the rug still has to allow air to circulate and pass through to wick away any moisture. The waterproof membrane used to coat the rug has to be breathable, it will have tiny holes that are smaller than a water molecule. This allows air to circulate without water coming in. If you find your horse is wet underneath their turnout rug, this may not mean it has leaked. It can be the condensation from under the rug, from sweating or overheating that can accumulate in a short period of time. If your horse is out in constant heavy rain, it will reduce the level of breathability as the rainwater will constantly cover the holes of the membrane.
How do I wash horse rugs? And how do I store horse rugs?
So now we’ve talked technical, here are our top tips on caring for your horse rugs. After a tough winter out in the fields your rugs could probably do with some TLC, here’s our advice on caring for your turnout rugs:
- We all love that new clean rug feeling, although too much rug washing can cause the waterproof membrane to break down. Professional rug cleaning companies provide a rug re-proofing service or to save a few pennies you can do some market research and reproof the rug yourself, just look out for products that are specially designed for horse rugs, a normal laundry detergent will break down and remove the waterproofing from your rugs so steer clear from using these
- When summer comes you can finally say goodbye to those bulky winter rugs, it’s important to keep them stored safely so they are ready to perform for the next winter. It’s essential your rug is put away dry, the last thing you want to do is dig that 300g rug out on a snowy day to find it's turned mouldy or rusting at the buckles! Some rugs come in resealable bags, these are great to reuse and keep your rugs dry and also save on space in the tack room
- Step away from the power washer! This can cause the membrane to break down and leave you with a rug that’s no longer waterproof. Always allow the rug to dry naturally away from direct sunlight, once dry brush off any dirt
- When it’s time to replace an old rug keep hold of the buckles or leg straps, it’s always handy to have spare ones ready. Rugs are designed to be strong and withstand a lot of pressure but can be weakened over time by your half a tonne horse having a bit too much fun in them!
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