Waterproof rugs are used not just to keep your horse dry from wet weather, but also to shield them from the cold. The right waterproof rug for your horse will fit comfortably to its body without being too tight and bulky. A breathable, lightweight waterproof rug is best for your horse as it offers them enough protection while keeping skin irritation at bay.
When looking for a new waterproof horse rug, there are a few features that you want to keep an eye out for. The ideal waterproof rug for your horse will have tightly woven fibres to keep out both water and harsh winds. However, you shouldn’t use the rug’s denier count alone as an indicator of this as it’s a common misconception that the higher the count, the more waterproof the material is. This is the case whether you’re using a waterproof turnout rug or stable rug.
You also want to ensure that there’s some sort of sealant on top of the material as this translates to a longer life span and higher quality. This also adds to the aesthetic appeal of your waterproof horse rugs as they will look much sleeker.
Waterproof fly rugs for horses are suitable for warmer conditions. They’re made with a waterproof top section and can be identified by their mesh sides similar to regular fly rugs.
You may think that waterproof rain rugs for horses should be worn every time that you take your horse outside – especially in winter alongside a medium horse rug or heavy weight horse rug – but this isn’t the case. We recommend that you fit rain rugs for horses only when it is actually raining or it’s looking very likely that it will while they’re away from the stables. Worn for too long and rain rugs can mat down the horse’s hair, which means there will be no piloerection of their coat (the body’s response to the cold, which leads to the erection of hair follicles). As a result, they are more likely to be affected by the cold.
It’s no secret that waterproofing doesn’t last forever. On average, the sealants on the best waterproof horse rugs last around a year or two before they need replacing. However, there’s no need to throw away the waterproof horse rug that you’ve been using. A few spritzes of a water repellent – just like you’d use on outdoor garden furniture – and the rug will be as good as new.
Some horse owners are concerned that by cleaning their waterproof rugs, they’ll be damaging the waterproof sealant that rests on top of them. However, it’s still important to clean them because if you don’t, this could lead to mould forming. Due to the nature of paddocks, stables and fields, it’s easy for dirt to accumulate on a horse’s rug over time, which combined with rainfall and perspiration, can cause negative health effects.
Spot cleaning is an effective way of getting rid of dirt if you’re especially worried about damaging the waterproof seal. This involves only scrubbing away at the dirt that you can see, as opposed to cleaning the entire rug.
We recommend that as a minimum, you give your waterproof horse rug a deep clean at the end of the winter season. This will remove any dirt lingering below the line of sight and won’t subject the sealant to any damage. If your horse wears a heavy waterproofing rug, you should give it a thorough scrub before putting it into the wash to make sure that all dirt is removed.
Unless temperatures have dipped below 0 degrees Celsius, a horse should be able to maintain its own body temperature. This means that the best waterproof rugs for horses can be lightweight and still offer your horse effective protection against wet weather.
Lightweight horse rugs are traditionally made out of synthetic materials such as polyester that have a better track record when it comes to repelling moisture compared to heavier materials like cotton. A cotton horse rug absorbs rainwater or horse perspiration, sitting inside the material with nowhere to go. If this is allowed to accumulate, it can lead to discomfort for your horse and negative health effects.
Another feature of these rugs that makes them ideal for waterproofing is the fact that they’re usually constructed with a tapered seam. This is much more effective at keeping out moisture than the stitching which is a key characteristic of heavier rugs. A stitch is much more likely to break than a seam when a horse is fidgeting or distressed.
You may be thinking now that you can get away with using a lightweight summer fly sheet on your horse when it’s raining as opposed to a waterproof rug, but this isn’t the case. Although there are perks to these types of rugs that make them effective at combating moisture, and even though waterproof rugs for horses are often lightweight, you still want to opt for a waterproof rug in the rainy season.
This is because the best waterproof rugs for horses are a lot more effective at keeping out the rain than lightweight rugs, as they are made with different sealants. A rug that doesn’t repel water can lead to irritation for your horse as the soaking-wet material can rub against the horse’s skin.
Although waterproof rugs are used more often in the winter/autumnal months, they can be used whenever heavy downpours are expected, including in the spring and summer months.
A common question we get asked when it comes to cleaning waterproof horse rugs is whether or not they are suitable to put into the washing machine. The answer is yes, but reserve this for the end of the season so that the sealant doesn’t become damaged when you’re still trying to use it.
When spot cleaning your waterproof fly rugs for horses, we recommend that you use cold water. This is because bacteria is killed by colder temperatures and boiling water may interfere with the rug’s material.