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It is entirely possible to keep horses outside without a rug even in the winter, if they are used to it and as long as they are healthy, can move around and have access to food and shelter if they are in loose housing around the clock. If these criteria are not met, your horse may for example be injured but still need to be in loose housing, you will perhaps need to cover it if the weather gets too bad.
If you keep the horse active enough in training to make it sweat, it may be a good idea to clip it and use a rug. There are different ways of clipping the horse; if you only clip under its neck there is no need to compensate with a rug, but if you on the other hand clip all or large parts of the body, you should apply a rug, inside and out.
Any rug that the horse wears for a longer period of time has to fit in terms of both model and size, and Hööks has a great selection to choose from. It is not comfortable for the horse to wear a rug that is too large or too deeply cut, causing it to slide back over the withers. A clipped horse is often more prone to chafing, so even if the rug fits well, it may lead to chafing on the chest. This can be solved by using a shoulder guard.
Rug quality is measured in deniers (D) and essentially the higher the denier number, the stronger the material. However, you should know that there are also differences in terms of material. Nylon is generally much stronger and more elastic than polyester, which may mean that a nylon rug with a lower denier number is as strong as a polyester rug with a higher denier number. If you keep several horses in the same paddock, you may want to get a rug in a good material with a high denier count, as it will then be able to withstand a bit of horseplay and mischief.
If the horse gets caught or steps on the rug, it may tear even the strongest of rugs. The best way to repair an outdoor rug is to cut off any loose threads, and thereafter glue a piece of fabric to the inside and possibly sew around the tear. You should sew as little as possible in waterproof rugs as the stitches perforate the fabric and may cause leakage.
If you need a rug for when the horse is in the paddock, you should choose a turnout rug. Combination rugs can be used as a stable/travel/cooler rug. The cooler rug is used on damp horses (can also be placed underneath another rug). Other rugs will primarily be used as stable and travel rugs.
You select a size based on the length of the horse's back, from the withers to the root of the tail (see image).
When you are trying on the rug, remember to put a sheet or a thin rug underneath, closest to the horse. If the rug becomes dirty or otherwise looks used, we cannot take it back in case it does not fit.
The stable rug is used to keep the horse warm inside the stable. This type of rug should not be used outside, as it is not waterproof. It is preferable if the rug has a plain surface layer as this makes it easier to clean. The inside of the rug may be made from nylon, cotton or fleece. They can also have linings of varying thickness. If, for example, your horse has a full clip and stands in a cold stable, you may need a rug lined with somewhere between 300 and 500 grams of filling to keep the horse warm.
Cooler rugs are intended to wick moisture away from the horse's coat. Fleece and wool rugs are ideal for this purpose, as they allow the moisture to move though the fabric to the surface of the rug. These rugs are also suitable for travel, to ensure the horse stays dry even if it should start sweating during the journey.
Turnout rugs come both with and without filling. When selecting a turnout rug, remember that it must not only withstand rain, but also has to allow perspiration. This is so that the rug does not end up sealing the horse's sweat from the inside.
A winter turnout rug should have the same properties as the regular one, i.e., it should be waterproof and breathable, so that the horse stays warm and dry. In addition it should have a proper lining to protect the horse against the cold.
The insect/summer sheet protects the horse from irritating insects. There are also rugs with UV protections, for horses that are sensitive to the sun.
Most of these models can be supplemented with neck and belly pieces as needed.
Exercise sheets are available in a few different models, either with straps that you fasten to the girth of the saddle or which have a cut-out for the saddle and are fastened in front. The exercise sheet is used to keep the croup dry and warm, and it can be used when warming up and cooling down, or throughout the training session. They are available in a number of different materials; from fleece and wool to waterproof nylon with a warm lining. Many will also be fitted with reflective material, which is good when you ride outside.
Wash according to the instructions and rinse out all detergent. Let it dry. Apply the waterproofing product and allow to set for around 12 hours. Note: The rug may darken somewhat when you waterproof it.
If snow settles and stays on the rug, even the waterproof, breathable rugs may get damp. During lasting rain showers, water will often get in through the neck line, and the rug may get damp around the edges. Worn and washed rugs may start leaking after a while. Apply waterproofing product to solve this problem. Do not wash your turnout rugs too often. Instead brush off the dirt when the rug is dry.