- Are you preparing for show?
- Trying to thin out a heavy coat?
- Prevent sun bleaching?
- Making a paddocked horse more comfortable by providing a protective layer from the environment and insects?
- Stopping other herd members from chewing or damaging your horse?
- Easing a medical condition, such as Queensland Itch?
It is easy to fall into the trap of buying rugs and not being happy with them, or having to try a different type, which end up costing you extra. If you already have a wardrobe of unused rugs, try pulling them all out and reevaluating them. You might find a use for them after all! In winter, try layering. If you have a rug that slips, try putting a different rug under it. I have found this useful with canvas rugs, I put a summer rug under it and it stays put!
Also, don't fall into the trap of putting too many rugs on your horse. I was advised by a salesperson at a chain of stores that she used 8 rugs on her thoroughbred to keep it's coat thin through Winter! Not only does this sound extreme, it would lead to excess water drinking which can put undue pressure on the kidneys and needlessly leach minerals from the horse, possible causing dehydration. By the way, this person lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland! Read your horse - if there are sweat spots anywhere on its body, it was HOT! Just like being in bed with too many doonas!
A good rug in Summer has the opposite affect. It keeps the horse cooler! The lighter the colour, the cooler for your horse. As well as being a protective barrier from insects.
It's personal choice on accessories. Surcingles, rump darts, shoulder pleats. The average horse needs none of these, but your local salesperson will tell you otherwise. Some extreme horse body shapes may have a better fit with certain patterns - just like humans - but rugs are not a fitted item like a pair of slacks. The main thing is that the top line is contoured and the neck line is is not to cut away, causing rubbing on the wither and point of shoulder.
So really nut out what you want a rug for. Then imagine it from your horses point of view. Then add in basic safety requirements. You should be able to have a good idea what you need with a little planning!
And if you have everything you need and just want to work on a fashionable wardrobe, that's fine too! Everyone likes to make a strong impression when unloading your horse at a show or clinic! Just make sure you have your horses needs covered first!
Good luck and happy shopping!