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I mentioned in a previous review that my cousin and I have taken on another horse (not out of choice!) and she has come with various tack and equipment, most of which is either too big, too small or too old to be of any use. After going through everything she has we did manage to hold onto a few things which is great as it saves us from buying anything until we know what we are going to do with her (she is in poor condition and needs a little TLC).
One of the rugs she came with was apparently bought for her a year ago and amazingly it fits her well and is in the correct size unlike a lot of her stuff! The rug is the Shires Winter Highlander. The rug is manufactured by Shires Equestrian who make equestrian wear for both horse and rider and have been going for quite a lot of years. They have ranges to suit all budgets.
The Shires Winter Highlander rug is classed as a combo rug as it has an attached neck which goes up to the ears. Shires recommend the rug for clipped horses in the autumn and hardy horses and ponies in the winter. The new addition is although tall at 17hh she has quite a bit of bone and is quite tough and also prone to over heating so this rug is perfect for her during the winter unlike my lot who are such wimps they require several layers of rugs!
The Highlander is made of 600 denier waterproof material (higher the denier tougher the rug) which features Shires' rip-stop technology which acts as a barrier should the rug have a rip or tear the unique weave of the fabric will help contain the rip and helps stop it from ripping further. The rug's outer shell is breathable which is great for horses who can overheat as they won't sweat or won't sweat as much as the temperature can be controlled a bit more. On the inside of the rug there are taped seams which help prevent leaks and keep the rug waterproof, ideal in rainy weather as you know your horse will remain dry. When it comes to the rug's filling it has 200g of warm polyfill insulation and again the higher the polyfill the warmer and thicker the rug. The rug is nicely padded all over right from the neck attachment to the tail flap. The neck attachment is made of exactly the same material with the same amounts of polyfill and the fabric has the same denier.
To keep the rug securely on the horse it features two colour co-ordinating breast straps which are adjustable with buckles, ideal as horses do vary in their chest sizes and also you can purchase a separate chest expander for those horses who do have a very large chest. There are two adjustable surcingles which cross under the horse's belly (from one side of the horse to the other) and there are also adjustable and removable leg straps at the back of the rug which cross in between the horse's back legs, these help keep the rug in place. Should you not want the leg straps they can be removed and replaced with a fillet string. It is important that the surcingles and leg straps are the right length and should be too tight or too long to avoid injury or an accident. The neck part of the rug is not detachable and is fastened by two velcro straps.
The rug does feature shoulder gussets at the front of the rug which allows the horse to move freely. However, the only thing is that they sit differently on every horse but fortunately on this mare they are in the right position and they do not restrict any of her movement in the field. There is an anti-rug lining to the chest and shoulder area of the rug which is great as there is nothing worse than a rug rubbing the horse's coat off mainly on the shoulder area. She is clipped so I can't say whether it has rubbed or not but generally even with an anti-rub lining you still get a bit of rubbing! The only part of the rug that I don't like is the tail flap as it is quite small and I am used to Weatherbeeta rugs which have a very large tail flap which protects the horse from the wind and rain a bit more.
Even though I don't buy Shires rugs for my horses I can't really fault this rug at all. It fits her well and hangs in all the right places. It manages to keep her warm, dry and comfortable and that is really all you want in a rug as it is clearly doing its job. Shires don't fit my horses that well but she is chunkier than my lot and this is probably why as it seems a bit bigger and gives a little more room which she obviously needs. So far she hasn't ripped or torn the rug which is great and the buckles and any other metal fastenings have so far stayed rust free despite all the wet weather and snow we have had.
The Shires Winter Highlander is available from all Shires stockist as well as on their own website. It seems to vary in price from around £55 to £80 which is quite a big difference so it would be worth shopping around to get the best deal. Currently the rug comes in either red or navy and sizes start from 4'0 to 7'3.