For the large majority of horse owners, rugs are a necessity during winter. Winter rugs can be an important investment but looking after that investment can feel like a minefield. There are various reasons we choose to buy and use rugs on our horses;
- Providing warmth during the colder months to promote comfortable temperatures for good health
- For cleanliness - reducing damage to the natural coat due to dirt and weathering on a daily basis and before a competition
- As a replacement barrier after clipping
- To help keep weight on horse's who otherwise lose condition easily.
A good quality winter rug can set you back around £180 + depending on the weight and style of rug that you require; therefore, it is important to care for this rug correctly in order to get the most out of your investment. Caring for your winter rugs correctly helps to safeguard the performance, increase the lifespan of the rug and create a positive environment for good health and hygiene, equating in fewer replacements and helps save money.
The horse's coat produces natural grease on a daily basis, which contributes to a healthy, shiny coat. However, excess build-up of this natural grease on the inside of a rug can not only damage the fabric but also, if left to accumulate for too long, can lead to rubbing and irritation when layered between the horse's skin and the rug for long periods of time. For this reason, it is important to keep the lining of your rug as clean as possible, in line with good hygiene practices.
Dirt can have many detrimental effects on your winter rugs. Excess dirt and moisture can cause mould spores and damp, leading to poor health effects such as breathing issues or skin irritation alongside damaging the integrated waterproof membrane (which if damaged - is often irreparable). Not only is a dirty rug aesthetically displeasing - it often causes damage to the integrity of the fabrics meaning that your rug is more likely to tear, rip, and otherwise deteriorate - shortening the overall lifespan dramatically.
Caring for your rug in a thoughtful and effective way between professional washes will help you get the most out of your winter rug wardrobe. It is vital that you always follow the manufacturers cleaning instructions. On a daily or required basis, it is a good idea to gently remove any excess dirt between wears to help reduce the detrimental effect on your rug fabric. We would advise that this should be done by using a damp cloth or sponge whenever necessary - but leave yourself time to allow the rug to dry naturally before wear. Please note that we would strongly advise against using a brush to remove excess dirt as the bristles can lead to wear against the fabric - damaging the coating and fibres and therefore reducing the integrity of the rug.
If you feel that your rug requires more than a gentle wipe-down to remove the dirt - you can hand-wash your rug at less than 30°C using only non-bio detergents. You could do this in a bath or large tub/bucket, as you see fit. Smaller thin stable rugs may fit comfortably inside a domestic washing machine - however, we would dissuade you from washing a turnout rug in a domestic washing machine as the aggressive spin can fracture and damage the waterproof membrane inside. It is vital that your rug is left to dry naturally in a well-ventilated area as excess moisture or a humid environment is not suitable for drying of turnout rugs.
Winter can feel a very long season and thicker, heavier rugs can be more difficult to maintain. It is a traditional and effective protocol to use a cotton sheet or thin stable sheet as a base rug/under layer to protect the outer rug from deterioration from the coat's natural grease. It is much easier to wash a thin stable sheet at home than a thick over/outer rug, so this is often the best routine for good hygiene.
As and when your winter rugs do require a professional wash - make sure you take them to a reputable service that will use the correct products on your rugs in order to protect them for the next year. As a rule, you should only fold and store a clean rug, and this should be done in a cool, dark area (out of direct sunlight or artificial heat).
Premier Equine rugs are renowned for providing effective protection and superior comfort for your horse, throughout all seasons. Our Titan Trio complete rugging system is an inspired design used by over 10,000 owners across the globe. Providing one rug, two necks, and three liners to cover four weights - the Titan Trio is the ultimate rugging system for your horse.
Take a look at our full range of horse rugs to find what you need for the incoming season.