During the summer, healthy horses who only go out to pasture for a few hours at a time do not usually need a turnout rug. Sick or very sensitive horses can be covered with an unlined rug. Open stable horses are normally very robust and can usually get out of the rain if it gets too much for them. Spring and autumn are a different matter. While rain alone does not affect healthy horses, the combination of rain, cold weather and wind makes rain unpleasant for the animals and ultimately dangerous to their health. In this case, a rain sheet or lightweight turnout rug is appropriate, even if the horse only spends a few hours in the meadow or paddock. The turnout rug should be lightly lined.
A lightweight horse rain rug should waterproof and breathable. If you wash the rug too often, it may no longer be waterproof. You can then treat it with a waterproofing spray. In extreme cases, you will have to replace the rug with a new one. A rug that is not waterproof will soak up rain and lie on the horse like a weight. This is not only extremely unpleasant for the animal, but will also no longer protect the horse against the elements.
The right turnout rug for your horse depends on how it is kept and how much time it spends outdoors. If your horse only spends a few hours outside at a time, a lightly lined rug should be fine. For sensitive animals or those with health problems, styles with a neck piece are recommended. This should be enough to protect your horse from the elements during the period from spring to autumn. In winter, you should switch to a waterproof heavyweight turnout rug, unless your horse has an extremely thick winter coat.
It is also important that the rug has sufficient moisture-wicking properties. Only then can the horse's sweat evaporate properly. Horses kept in boxes tend to run and romp in the meadow or paddock. Of course, they sweat when they do this. This sweat should be allowed to evaporate, rather than remain on the horse's skin, which is unpleasant for the animal.
Horses in open stables are constantly in contact with other animals. This quickly leads to scuffles or the horses playing with each other. As nice as this is for the animals, waterproof turnout rugs can unfortunately wear out quickly in the process. The turnout rug should therefore be as robust as possible. It is also important that the rug sits properly on the horse, with minimal slipping or shifting. The correct fit is ensured by adjustable double chest straps, cross straps on the belly as well as belly and tail straps.
Since open stable horses usually spend a lot of time outdoors, the rug should have a high waterproof rating. The higher the rating, the more rain or snow the rug will keep out. A turnout rug with a light fleece lining is usually ideal. It keeps the horse warm during cold winds, yet allows sweat to evaporate freely. For winter, heavier winter turnout rugs with thicker filling or lining are available.
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