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It is so depressing when the evenings start creeping in and you suddenly realise that your horse is coming in from the field cold and damp and miserable. You normally realise this when they give you an uncharacteristic bite or shove (thanks!).
So, what can you do but make them cosy and warm with a rug over night.
Over the years I have tried almost every type of rug there is from New Zealands, to dry sheets, to illuminous rugs for hacking out. One of the huge problems of horse rugs is drying them out. It rains, they get wet - so even the stable rugs get damp and it is cold so they dont dry quickly. Problem damp, smelly rugs which don't keep anyone warm.
Where do I buy and how much?
Now the weatherbeeta rugs are available from any equestrian shop - one of my favourites is Robinsons and another http://www.equestrianclearance.com these rugs are currently on sale from between £10 and £35 on this site.
How do I use them?
Well the official use of a cooler rug is to let the horse cool down after a strenuos workout. So when they have been galloping around the field all day or you have taken them for a ride and they are sweaty. As a horse owner for many years I have learnt that you don't need all the different type of rugs - you just multi use the ones that you have so I use these as a light night time rug (or underneath another, thicker one).
What are the benefits?
This rug is made of fleece material which makes it both breathable - so the horse can dry off quickly and machine washable. That said I would always take horse rugs to the launderette as they do smell your washing machine out something terrible! They also dry quickly. I can hang this rug up overnight / during the day and it drys within a couple of hours. This is a MASSIVE benefit as it saves you having to have too many rugs.
It is also easy to put on or off. You can throw this over the horse and do up very quickly. The straps tend to stay done up too which is good. It comes with a neck attachment - i tend not to use this too often - unless it is really cold.
There is also a fleece wither pad - some horses tend to rub the rugs on their withers leading to horrible sore patches - this design feature stops this.
Well this is not thick enough to be a mid winter "keep the horse really cosy" rug but it can be layered with others. It also rips if your horse manages to catch it on a fence so be careful. BUT that said this is a fantastic product at a reasonable price.
One of my favourite rugs!
Now the cooler weather seems to be creeping in it now takes the horses longer time to cool down and dry from when they have been ridden and washed down. It is incredibly unfair to leave a wet/ damp horse standing around either in the stable or on the yard. One rug I rely on heavily in the winter is my Weatherbeeta Polar Fleece cooler. I don't just use it when they have been ridden and require a thin layer of warmth but also in the cooler weather when they have been brought in from the field, are used to wearing a thick rug and when its taken off I just put my polar fleece on them as it keeps them warm without them getting cold.
Weatherbeeta have been making the polar fleece cooler for as long as I can remember. It has changed slightly over the years in terms of style and colours etc but it has always done the same job. The fabric wicks away sweat and moisture from the horses coat which makes them dry quicker. The fabric is made of 100% polyester anti-pill fleece and is so incredibly soft and light. This makes the rug easy to fold, store and even use as there really isn't anything to it whatsoever.
The rug is secured at the front by reinforced straps and buckles which are adjustable which for me is great as all my horses are different sizes in the chest area. There are two adjustable surcingles which help keep the rug in place. They are attached to one side of the rug and they cross over underneath the horses belly and are fixed to the other side of the rug. Unlike turnout rugs the polar fleece has a small colour co-ordinated fillet string which is fixed to the back of the rug and goes under the tail. The fillet string can be shortened or lengthened and even removed should you not want it.
At the front of the rug around the neck and down by the buckles the rug is made from a nylon overlay which is anti-rubbing for the horse so no risk of bald patches, which is especially great if you show your horse.
For me one of the great things about the polar fleece is that it is machine washable. My polar fleeces are washed at least once a month because they are used nearly everyday. They can be simply put on a cold wash and left to dry naturally (never tumbledry) and they come out as good as new except for the odd hair!
The Weatherbeeta Polar Fleece is available online and in most retailers who stock Weatherbeeta. Personally, I find the best deals online even taking postage and packaging into account. For 2010 the rug comes in navy/ silver, black/ turquoise and grey/ pink. Sizes start from 4'0 and go up to 7'3 (not all colours are available in all sizes). The polar fleece costs around £30 - £35. The rug also comes in a combo version where it has an attached neck which goes up to the ears. The neck is slim fitting but the two velcro straps can be adjusted but if your horse as a really wide neck you may find the neck section of the rug is too tight.
When fitting a rug they should be properly measured as an ill fitting rug can cause issues and possible injury, try to measure from chest to tail to get an accurate measurement.
This is definitely a rug that any horse/ pony owner should own or invest in as during the cold months it comes in incredibly handy to take the chill off a horse. It's easily washable and stored so when it isn't in use it won't be taking up any valuable room.