Natural Horse World

Responsible Rugging Tips

Poor thing with rugs
An example of irresponsible over-rugging. 

I generally don’t recommend rugging a horse. However, there are times when due to lack of shelter or many days of constant rain and wind, you may choose to provide cover for your horse.

Here are some tips to help keep your horse safe and comfortable if you need to use a rug.

  • Select the correct sized rug for your horse. A poor fit will result in rubbing and will be very uncomfortable for your horse, especially when running or reaching down to eat and drink.
  • Prepare a horse for wearing a rug first time by being able to throw a blanket all over your horse, rub it down with a towel and use a rope around the hind legs to simulate leg straps.
  • Do up the leg straps and belly straps first – if the horse takes fright and runs off before the rug is fully fastened, it will fall off behind the horse, rather than trip it up or tear the rug to pieces which is likely if just the chest strap is done up.
  • When you take the rug off, clip up the leg straps so they don’t hit the horse when coming off or going on again. This can make a horse rug shy.
  • Minimize the use of a rug – most horses would prefer to be free of rugs given the choice. Unless they are old, injured, and unable to move well, or have no shelter at all, they will get by perfectly well without a rug.
  • When you do need to use a rug, take it off again as soon as the weather clears up. In my experience, horses can cope fine with rain and it’s natural for them to shiver a little to keep warm. Often an extra feed of hay will warm them up from the inside out. Rain with driving wind for an extended period (12-124 hrs) can be a good time to provide a rug for the elderly.
  • If you are not able to remove a rug during the day when the weather warms up, choose one such as the CoolHeat which allows airflow and the horse to thermoregulate.
  • If you need to put a rug on a wet horse, scrape the water off first then towel dry quickly.

Click here to read more about horse rugs and how thermoregulation works.


This is the rug I recommend for responsible rugging of most horses and here’s why:

The Coolheat Blanket has many advantages over the average horse rug:

~ It can be used on horses that have been allowed to grow a winter coat, without risk of them overheating.
~ It can be put on the horse when they are wet from rain or sweaty after exercise.
~ It has a superior fit, with shoulder darts that work properly and allows the horse to graze/drink without pressuring the neck.
~ The unique rubber ‘fingers’ inside the rug stop shoulder-rubbing and help keep the rug evenly balanced on the horse – no sideways slipping.

For more information on the Coolheat Blanket go to the Product Review page or to purchase one, visit Innovative Equestrian.

If you have an older horse that has lost condition and has a prominent wither or bony hips/shoulders, I’d recommend the Horsewear Rambo range of rugs which are also well fitted and of excellent quality.

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