Rugging dilemmas and sizing

RUG SIZE GUIDE: Right, In the UK, rug size is measured from the centre of the chest to the rear of the quarters, whereas in Europe, rug size is measured from the withers to the tail. (FW34-537NN)

WE are at that time of the year where we should be starting to think about having a rug stash organised for the impending colder months. No one likes to consider this, especially after such an uncharacteristically ‘tropical’ summer. Here at Old Mill, we seek to make rugging hassle free, possibly even… enjoyable.

We are all guilty of having tack room envy, there is nothing more humbling than watching professional riders give a tour of their yards, they have rugs for every occasion. ‘Envy’ no longer needs to be the case, as you too can have a rug stash to rival, with the help of us here at Old Mill Saddlery. Here are some tips on buying rugs to suit your horse:

HIGH QUALITY: The Amigo Bravo-12 Plus Turnout Heavy is just one of the high quality Horseware rugs, which can be bought in store or online from Old Mill. (FW34-536NN)


It is necessary when buying and using your outdoor rugs to bear the following points in mind:

Fit is all important. Rugs are usually sized in three inch increments. The measurement refers to the distance from the centre of the chest of the horse around the body of the horse to the rear of the quarters, where you expect the rug to finish. As horses of any given size vary so much in girth and build, it is essential to take these measurements before purchasing your rug. Do though check the sizing and fitting instructions when buying a new brand of rug – as with your own clothing, various brands may fit differently.

A rug will not stay in place unless it fits properly. A badly fitting rug will slip and be strained to breaking point. If too big, a rug is more likely to cause rubs than one that is too small.

It is essential that a rug should fit well on the withers and shoulders, so that the horse can move freely underneath the fabric, without the rug slipping back. If this happens, the rug is put under strain and can cause sore areas.

Once you have ascertained that the rug fits well around the neck, pull the rug into position along the horse’s back, so that the coat lies flat. If the seam between the tail flap and the rug sits below the top of the tail, the rug may be too big.

With rugs using leg straps – take the left leg strap, pass between the hind legs and fasten it on the left hand side. Take the right leg strap, pass it between the hind legs and through the loop made by the left strap and fasten to the right hand side. Adjust the leg straps equally until there is room for the width of one hand (4-5”) between the leg straps and the horse’s thigh. This is to allow freedom of movement.

The leg straps are linked to prevent rubbing and act with each other to pull the rug into place. When the horse is grazing, the leg straps should be close to its thighs to keep the rug in position. If you fit the rug as we have described here, it will displace very little through movement and rolling. If the leg straps are too loose, the rug will slip.

When fitting a rug with cross surcingles, care should be taken to ensure that the straps of the cross surcingle cross in the centre of the horse’s belly – well forward of the horse’s stifle, i.e. so that the crossed straps are on the roundest part of his body. Again, there should be a hand’s breadth between the straps and the horse’s body.

Note: Thank you to BETA and Shires equestrian who have kindly supplied part of the information in this article.


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