Heaving wet rugs across the yard and attempting to dry them in freezing conditions can prompt a flurry of expletives. But is there an easier way? We ask you for your secrets...
1. “Keeping coats and manes clean and generously covered in mane and tail conditioner seems to prevent rubbing of manes and shoulders when horses wear more rugs. I use Rambo rugs because they are a great fit — especially round the front — and are good quality, lasting a long time. I tend to put a thin summer sheet on under the rugs, because they are easy to chuck in the washing machine and it means the heavier rugs don’t get greasy and don’t need washing so often” — grand prix dressage rider Matt Burnett
2. “Buy a pack of lamb castration rubber rings to put on the ‘T’ clips on cross-surcingles so they won’t come undone” — international dressage rider and trainer Stef Eardley from Gloucestershire
3. “The best rug dryer for a turnout rug that is wet but not soaked through is the horse that wears it! Just leave it on in the stable overnight and it will be dry in the morning and not hang round the yard damp for days.
“Keep cable ties and bailing twine handy for impromptu repairs on rugs in an emergency — you can cable tie a leg strap to its clip if it breaks and use a spare trigger clip and bailing twine as a leg strap.
“Get your rug mender to make you spare leg straps with a loop at one end and clip on the other, so you can swap them when broken” — Wolverhampton vet and racehorse trainer Sue Taylor
4. “Thin plastic tube over the fillet string means you can wipe them clean. Gaffer tape is a good emergency solution for rug rips — it’s waterproof and will hold the rip together for a day or so until you can get it repaired. I’ve found the best rugs are Rambo, Rhino and Weatherbeeta — they never leak and last for years. Bossy’s Bibs are excellent at preventing rug rubs on fine-skinned or clipped horses” — Musselburgh-based Sarah Hawes, who enjoys hacking and unaffiliated dressage
5. “I keep some iron-on repair patches handy for rug tears — I buy Denim iron-on repair patches from eBay by a company called Hemline. Ease the patch inside the tear with the adhesive side up, place the tear neatly over the patch so that edges are as close as possible, place a cloth over the area being mended, hold the iron down over the cloth for the designated time and the result is a neat repair.
“Another tip is using dental floss to sew up tears and patches in rugs — it’s strong, waterproof and easy to sew through thick rug materials” — June Craig, dressage rider from Scotland
6. “If they come in with their rugs plastered in mud, leave the rug on and hose the mud off. Rugs dry quicker clean than with mud on” — Catherine Foley, West Midlands
7. “If you’re struggling for somewhere to hang wet and muddy rugs, buy a piece of PVC downpipe from your local DIY store and slot it over a piece of wood or baling twine and then hang it from the beams of the stable or barn using more baling twine. Simply throw your rugs over when wet and then slide them off easily when dry” — event rider Rosemary Myers from Derbyshire
8. “I buy carabiner snap or lanyard neck clips from the hardware store to use on leg straps when their clips break. They are cheap and easy to fit.
“I use Shires Typhoon rugs on my four horses all winter in New Zealand; we get pretty cold weather and they have stayed dry and comfy with no rubs” — Denise Bancroft from New Zealand
9. “If you do wash your own rugs, only use non-biological washing powder as biological ruins the waterproofing as I found out to my expense this year. Even after a professional reproof they still weren’t waterproof!” — Jill Hancock from Chesterfield
10. “Wash rugs in a wheelie bin. It uses much less water and you can do several rinses quickly in one go. You can also plonk a child in there to stomp on the rugs to get the job done quicker. Rugs are washed and child is entertained!” — East Sussex-based Joanna Hartland, enjoys eventing, hunting and hacking
11. “Put WD40 on your leg strap clips and buckles occasionally as this not only helps repel water, but also keeps them moving freely. I compete in TREC and use turnout Snuggy Hoods the night before a competition and when away at events, as the horses stay in corrals. They come in lots of sizes, so you can get a really good fit, which makes it difficult for the horse to get them off in the field” — Sarah Thurnell from Derbyshire
12. “I put small tags on the front fasteners of my rugs so I know they are mine. I use the tiny plastic tags on a metal loop that have a bit of paper that slots in behind a film. I simply write my horse’s name on the tag and there are no more arguments about whose rugs are whose” — Jade Turner from Lincolnshire
13. “Unless my turnout rugs are really, really bad, I don’t wash them every year. I just dry them out, brush the mud off and store them until next season. I used to wash them every season no matter what, but they’re never the same. They lose waterproofness” — Catherine Dickie from East Ayrshire, Scotland enjoys hacking
14. “If you’ve got wet, muddy rugs that need shifting across the yard, simply place them in a wheelbarrow rather than carrying them yourself. Saves you getting plastered in mud” — Michelle Scott BHS ISM is an accredited professional coach from Cheshire who enjoys dressage
15. “If your horse’s shoulders are prone to being rubbed by their rugs, line the shoulders with pure silk. I buy cheap offcuts from the haberdashery or silk scarves from charity shops and sew patches into the shoulders of the rug. The only stipulation is that they must be 100% silk otherwise it doesn’t work” — Laurel Hoare, pleasure rider from Cheshire
16. “Never throw old rugs away. Cut the buckles and straps off dead ones to patch up new rugs. We buy old duvets from charity shops as under-rugs which are so much cheaper than a heavyweight stable rug and just as warm” — Virginia Rider from Kent, who shows ex-racehorses
The dilemma of which winter rug to put…
17. “I swear by Mark Todd rugs. I have a 23-year-old mare who lives out, so rugs have been important. For colder, wet weather, I’ve found the Mark Todd medium and heavy full-neck rugs are amazing quality, well designed, are fantastic waterproof-wise and a comfortable fit, especially the neck design. So many others rub the mane, but not these” — Teresa Lock from Devon
This article was first published in the 5 October 2017 issue of Horse & Hound magazine
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