Sweet itch can be a summer nightmare for horse owners, but the best sweet itch rugs can help prevent midges from accessing your horse in the first place. Caused by an allergic reaction to the bite of the midge, sweet itch is an unpleasant itching sensation that leads the horse to bite, scratch or rub at their skin. It most commonly affects the base of the mane and tail.
It’s important to be aware that these “sweet itch rugs” will not treat your horse or cure him from the condition and are not a replacement for veterinary treatment. They, however, can be used as a preventative measure to reduce the chance of a horse who is prone to the condition from being bitten in the first place. Most cases are seen between March and October, so purchasing a rug and putting it on your horse before the season starts is best – once your horse is suffering he will already be itching and likely damage even the most robust of rugs.
These rugs tend to offer more coverage than a typical fly rug so as to provide maximum protection, but as they are worn throughout the summer months, it’s especially important that they are lightweight and breathable.
Here’s a selection of the best rugs for horses prone to sweet itch…
Bucas Sweet-Itch X Light
Colours: | Sizes: 3ft 6in – 7ft 2in | RRP: £136 |
Designed to protect your horse from flies and offer great UV protection, this extra-deep rug combines an upper solid part for maximum protection and a lower mesh part that offers fly protection and good air circulation.
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Equilibrium Field Relief fly rug
Colours: Yellow | Sizes: 5ft 6in – 7ft | RRP: £95 |
Designed in yellow as research suggests this deters flies, this lightweight and breathable rug has adjustable straps and a stretch hood that sits over the ears. It features an anti-rub lining on the neck, over the withers and at the chest.
Mark Todd Pro Sweet Itch Combo Rug
Colours: White | Sizes: 5ft 6in – 7ft | RRP: £79.99 |
Providing protection against biting insects and UV rays, this lightweight rug is breathable and kind to the skin. It features belly straps and hidden band, plus has the addition of rubber surcingle slots to ensure even better coverage with less gaping. The hood has a stretch panel for flexibility when grazing and ensures a snug fit to prevent bugs from getting inside.
Premier Equine Sweet Itch Buster fly rug with belly flap
Colours: White | Sizes: 5ft – 7ft 3in | RRP: £116 |
Offering head-to-tail protection from biting insects and the sun’s rays, this lightweight breathable 1000D rug is hard-wearing and 100% UV reflective. It features an antibacterial, breathable lining over the shoulder and neck area to prevent rubbing, as well as an integrated wrap-around belly flap and super-size double-thickness tail flap for extra protection.
Shires Highlander Plus Sweet-Itch combo
Colours: White | Sizes: 4ft – 7ft 3in | RRP: £74.99 |
Ideal for all-round summer protection against biting insects and sun bleaching, this rug features a “grazing-friendly“ hood and large pleated tail flap to help keep the body, neck and poll covered at all times. The hardwearing and breathable fabric is 90% UV blocking. It also has a belly flap, deep shoulder gussets, buckle chest straps and adjustable fillet strap and leg strap loops.
Snuggy Hoods sweet itch rug
Colours: Beige, brown or haint blue | Sizes: 4ft 6in – 7ft | RRP: £99 |
This rug offers total protection from midges, biting insects, flies and harmful UV rays. It has full belly coverage, an elasticated and padded chest and withers, and double tail protection with a tail wrap and extra-large flap. It is also mud-proof and water-repellent, and prevents coat bleaching. You can add a hood or headless hood to maximise your coverage. You can further customise the coverage by adding front legs, an udder cover or sheath cover.
WeatherBeeta Sweet Itch Shield Combo Neck
Colours: White/blue | Sizes: 4ft – 7ft 3in | RRP: £69.99 |
This rug offers head-to-tail protection for sensitive horses, shielding them from 90% UV rays, sun bleaching, parasites and insects. Made from a strong and breathable 600D ripstop outer, it has lined shoulders to help prevent rubbing and stretching, and an elasticated and adjustable belly wrap and full wrap tail flap. It also features an ear hood with elastic insert around the ears to ensure the neck stays in place.
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