Part 1 - What Are Winter Horse Rugs Made Of?

In previous articles we have covered off on the importance of rugging your horse, matching blanket weight to your horse, and choosing the right summer rug for your horse. In this first of three articles we will take a closer look at the materials used to make winter horse rugs.

The variety of winter horse rugs available on the market is as comprehensive as it is confusing. Without properly understanding the purpose of the rug(s) you are purchasing, the materials used to make them and their ability to work combination can mean the difference between buying wisely or needlessly spending money on products your horse doesn’t need. Like all things tack, a little knowledge goes a long way so let’s start with the key materials used in the main types of winter horse rugs you will find.

The Right Materials For The Job

Understanding the properties and advantages of the materials used to make the horse rug you are considering to buy can definitely give you confidence in your purchase decision.   

Wool - is a natural fibre that finds the right balance between breathability, insulation, comfort and durability. It’s longer lasting and stronger than polar fleece and also stays warm when wet. This last point is especially important as woollen horse rugs allow for gradual cool-down and inhibits muscle soreness.

Tack Tip - Take a moment to review the content amount of wool in your potential purchase. A thinner rug with a higher percentage of wool will better insulate than a thicker rug with lower wool content.

Fleece - is a synthetic fabric made by first creating polyester, spun into yarn and then woven together to create (in this case) different types of fleece fabric. Polar fleece is a popular choice when looking for a travel or stable rug for the cooler months. As a rule, horse fleece rugs aren't as strong or durable as those made of wool, but it is cheaper and will definitely work towards keeping your horse warm.

Tack Tip - Thicker fleece (higher GSM amount) will retain its heat insulation properties better than thinner products which will thin out quickly with regular use. Also, choose anti-pilling fleece for better performance. Ask your online saddlery expert for advice.

Cotton - is another natural fibre that is also breathable, durable and comfortable. Unlike wool it isn't scratchy on the skin, it doesn’t accumulate dust, but also doesn’t have the insulating qualities of wool or fleece. Polycotton rugs (rip-stop horse rugs) weave of polyester (for strength) and cotton (for breathability); making it suitable for a wide range of uses.

Tack Tip - A 70% polyester / 30% cotton blend finds the right balance between durability, ventilation and cost. Higher cotton content equates to better breathability, but will also mean the rug is more prone to shrinking and will be more expensive.

Polyester - is another synthetic fabric made from plastic deriving from petroleum and other chemicals. Its advantages are that it is lightweight, strong and shrink resistant. A major drawback is that it is not breathable. For this reason it is often used in combination with other materials. Be aware of purchasing products using 100% polyester; they may be cheaper but they will also hold a static charge that will never fail to surprise you.

Tack Tip - Synthetic rugs come in different deniers – a rating of the strength and density of the outer material. Some of the ratings you will see include 600D, 1200D, 1680D and beyond. As a rule, the higher the denier rating, the tougher, stronger and more rip resistant the rug will be.

In our next blog…

We will look at the different types of winter horse rugs available. In the meantime, check out our range of winter horse rugs and feel free to drop us a message with a question, we’d be happy to help.