Personalised Horse Rug Buying Guide

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Personalised Horse Rug Buying Guide

A horse rug is an essential item for keeping your horse healthy, comfortable, and at top performance level. Whether you ride casually or competitively, caring for your animal is paramount. This article covers the types of horse rugs available on eBay, what their functions are, and the advantages of acquiring a personalised horse rug.

Types of Horse Rugs

Anti-Sweat Rugs

An anti-sweat rug is a cotton mesh rug, rather like a string vest. They are usually only fastened at the front, although a clip may be used over the rug to hold it more firmly in place. Anti-sweat rugs prevent chills on sweating horses as they cool down after exercise.

Riders must ensure that their horses are safe from chills by maintaining their core temperature after they have exercise. Sudden change in temperature, from hot to cold, is a common way to weaken a horse's immune system. These blankets can also help to prevent irritation from flies. This especially true with finely woven anti-sweat rugs. Rugs vary significantly, ranging from thick to a very fine mesh. All kinds of rugs can be found on eBay, and ultimately the choice will depend on the individual horse, the nature of exercise planned and the climate in which they will wear the rug.

The Cooler Rug

Something very similar to an anti-sweat rug is a cooler rug. Cooler rugs are also used to prevent chills on sweating horses as they cool down after exercise. They are breathable rugs designed to keep the horse warm and keep moisture away from the horse's coat to the rug where it evaporates so that the horse cools down gradually.

Cooler rugs can be placed under a turnout rug or stable rug to help a horse dry off after exercise on cold days. They can also be used as an under blanket or rug for extra warmth in the winter.

Exercise Rugs

Quarter sheets, also called exercise rugs, keep a horse warm during warm-up and during active work to prevent rapid muscle cooling which can lead to chilling and cramping. The sheet extends from the front of the saddle to the rear of the horse and is used while riding to keep the horse warm and/or dry.

Wet heat loss is twenty three times faster than dry heat loss, and if a horse is allowed to become damp during a cooling out period he will likely lose so much heat as to experience muscle chill. Because of this, blanketed, stabled horses with very short (clipped) coats are prime candidates for exercise rugs.

Exercise rugs come in a variety of styles and cuts, which can be browsed through at leisure when shopping online. Each is carefully tailored to serve its purpose without inhibiting movement.

The Three Most Popular Cuts of Exercise Rugs

Traditional Cut

A large rectangle that runs from withers to tail, down the shoulders, sides and hindquarters.

The saddle sits on top of the sheet and is secured via girth loops and stabilized with a tail loop.

Girth and saddle must be removed in order to remove the traditional exercise rugs.

The traditional style is either sparse like the original military quarter sheet or fuller like a stable sheet with the front missing.

European Cut

Features a cut-away section under the girth which helps prevent the sheet from gathering and allows for normal use of leg aids and spurs.

Tack must be removed to remove this style of the exercise sheet.

Easy On/Off Style

Features a cut out area for the saddle and (Velcro) fasteners in front of saddle.

Put on after the horse is saddled and can be removed without removing the girth or saddle.

Usually does not have girth loops and goes over the fastened girth, which allows for quick removal of the sheet.

Usually has a tail tie, which, if tied with a quick release knot, makes the sheet easy to take off even while mounted.

If it comes with a tail loop and you expect to take it off during the work, you can opt to not put the loop under the horse's tail or you can dismount to remove the sheet.

This style of sheet can be used under the rider's leg as a traditional exercise rug or over the rider's legs to keep the rider warm.

This type of sheet is ideal for temperatures where an exercise rug is not needed during warm-up and active work but is beneficial during cool-down

Fleece Rugs

Fleece rugs are breathable and warm and can be used as a light stable rug, a travel rug, an under rug or as a substitute for a cooler rug.

Horses with tired or sore back and shoulder muscles experience relief from this soft heat therapy as well as horses with cold backs. The lush fleece material keeps out chills and dries the horse quickly

The fleece horse blanket can be worn alone or used as a liner in colder temperatures, and is ideal for injury recovery or prevention.

Fly Rugs

A fly rug or fly sheet is a lightweight fine mesh rug that offers protection to horses from biting flies and insects during the summer. Short of shaking their heads and tails, horses have little else to protect themselves from pesky flies and gnats. This sheet is a comfortable solution. There are several features of the fly rug to consider when choosing one online:

* Mesh: The finer the mesh on the fly rug, the better the protection the rug offers from flies and midges. Although some fly rugs have a standard neck and do not cover the belly, fly rugs that include a neck cover and belly flap offer the most protection. Some fly rugs also include a tail flap to give further fly protection Neck covers may detachable, or stitched to the fly rug so that is permanently fixed (combo fly rug).

* Belly flap: The belly flap is fastened on both sides of the fly rug and should be fitted snugly to prevent flies flying underneath.

* UV Protection: Many fly rugs offer a degree of UV protection for the horse that helps to prevent the coats of dark-coloured horses from being bleached by the sun and prevent sensitive or pink-skinned horses from becoming sunburned. As well as offering protection from flies and the sun, fly rugs also help to keep the horse's coat free from dust and dirt.

* Further protection: Some fly rugs also have matching fly masks or fly bonnets for complete fly protection, although fly masks or fly bonnets can also be bought separately.

The Summer Sheet

Something very similar to a fly rug is a summer sheet. A summer sheet is a light cotton horse rug that offers protection against dust and flies during the summer. They are often used as a light stable rug or travel rug in the summer.

New Zealand Rugs

New Zealand rugs are designed to keep the horse warm and dry when out in the field during winter. It is a traditional waterproof turnout rug made from canvas or waxed cotton and often green in colour. The key features to consider when making a purchase are:

* Fleece: Some New Zealand rugs are lined or have padded fleece areas designed to prevent sores occurring on pressure points. Alternatively a shoulder liner can be worn underneath the New Zealand rug to prevent rubbing occurring. In any case the New Zealand rug should not be too tight round the neck and chest area.

* Length: To ensure that the New Zealand rug gives adequate protection against the weather, the rug should be sufficiently long that none of the horse's belly is visible.

* Extra cover: Some New Zealand rugs have pleats in the shoulders that allow for more freedom of movement and some also have optional attachments such as neck covers to give extra protection from the winter elements.

New Zealand rugs normally have a good overlap at the front with front fastening straps providing maximum protection against the elements for the horse.

The rug is held in place by a clip and/or hind leg straps. Hind leg straps help to keep the rug from slipping to one side after the horse has rolled and should be fastened by passing one strap between the hind legs and fastening it to the back of the rug on the same side.

The second strap is then passed between the legs, through the first strap, and fastened to the same side to which it is attached. This way the leg straps are linked between the hind legs.

The leg straps should be adjusted to allow a hand's width to be placed comfortably between the back of the horse's leg and the strap. If the leg straps are too tight they can cause rubbing, and if too loose the horse may get its hooves caught in the straps when lying down.

New Zealand rugs need to be re-proofed once or twice each winter to ensure they remain waterproof, and it is best to have two rugs so that they can be used alternately.

Anti-Rub Liners

Anti-rub liners, shoulder liners or an anti-rub vest are designed to be worn underneath a rug to provide protection from friction.

These are made from thin, stretchy material and cover the chest, shoulder and withers that are areas prone to friction sores from rug wear. There are also Liners made from quilted material designed to be worn underneath a rug to provide extra warmth. These are often known as under blankets or under rugs.

Stable Rugs

The stable rug is designed to keep the horse warm whilst stabled and is not waterproof as it is not designed for outside use.

The majorities of stable rugs are made from padded or quilted synthetic material and are available in different thicknesses or weights that offer varying degrees of insulation for the horse.

Rug Type


Lightweight rugs

Up to 150 grams of filling

Medium weight rugs

150 - 300 grams of filling

Heavyweight rugs

300+ grams filling

A heavier stable rug (night rug) and lighter weight stable rug (day rug) may be used, or an under blanket or under rug may be used under the stable rug to provide extra warmth during the colder night and then removed leaving just the stable rug during the day.

Stable rugs are breathable, allowing perspiration to evaporate, and are available in a variety of colours.

Some stable rugs have pleats in the shoulders that allow for more
freedom of movement.

Standard neck stable rugs have no neck cover, but may have rings or zips to attach a detachable neck cover so that a neck cover can be attached or removed as required. Combo stable rugs have an integrated fixed neck cover.

Stable rugs are usually held in place by cross surcingles that are passed from the front of one side of the stable rug, under the belly and fastened towards the rear on the other side of the rug and another that is passed from the rear of the stable rug, under the belly and fastened at the front of the rug. This is accompanied by a fillet string attaching both sides of the stable rug at the rear over which the tail is pulled through.

The stable rug should not be too tight round the neck or chest area and the sides should be sufficiently long that none of the horse's belly is visible when viewed from the side.

Personalising Your Horse Rug

There is a large variety of rugs to choose from on eBay, each with their own purpose and benefits. Whichever rug you choose, your horse will definitely maintain a more natural coat, as it won't sweat as much. Your horse should stay cleaner and drier so you can take advantage of the days it is suitable to ride.

Embroidery is a brilliant way to personalise horse rugs for sponsorship opportunities, team branding or for a special present. Embroidery is a great way to market your sponsors and supporters, whether it is on jackets, rugs or saddlecloths. It is also a cost-effective way to create a personalised identity for each horse and rider.


A horse rug is a necessary item for keeping your horse healthy, comfortable and protected from the elements. It is also an opportunity to add some personal flair to your tack and customise the colour and style as you like. Now that you have a sound knowledge of the various types of horse rugs on the market and on eBay, you are ready to start browsing for the perfect one for you and your horse.

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