There are so many fly rugs for horses out there! So many brands with different options and extras in each, it can all be a bit confusing. Also, the marketing and advertising language used makes all of these products sound amazing and just the right rug to protect your precious animals.
Why I'm Writing About Fly Rugs For Horses
I'm Nathan and I come from a long line of 'equestrian entrepreneurs'. My family have worked with horses and produced saddles and horse rugs for over 40 years. So you could say I've seen a few horse rugs in my time. I wanted to write a piece about the best products for hot summer days out there on the market, from my perspective.
During my 20 years on the front line selling thousands of horse rugs up and down the length of New Zealand, there were some types of rugs I got regular negative feedback on so I never advised our customers to buy these products. Keep reading to find out which products I wouldn’t recommend, and why.
I'm a New Zealander living and working in the UK. So I'm writing this with the UK in mind but, my perspective on rugs could be used in any country with a similar climate and weather systems.
Both in NZ and the UK, our summers can be hot one minute, then rain the next. When it comes to summer rugs, I always go on the cautious side of keeping the horse comfortable.
And being a kiwi, I don't like to waste money on products that won't last or spend too much for a ‘brand’. So, here are a couple of things to look out for when purchasing fly rugs for horses.
Things To Look Out For
Bad Egg No.1
Anything ‘WATERPROOF’. They do sound like a good idea; a lightweight waterproof along the top, mesh along the bottom for increased airflow yadda, yadda, yadda. But... not on a hot day, never!
Anything waterproof while might technically be ‘breathable’, it will never be breathable enough on a hot day. If you find moisture under one of these things, it won't be rain, that will be sweat. Can you imagine wearing one of those plastic poncho’s or old school UMBRO waterproof coats when the sun is out? No? Me either.
In autumn and spring, they are ok, but these waterproof rugs really work best when at shows or events. When you are expecting rain and you are right there to take it on and off. Not left outside on the paddocks when you could get warm weather and sunshine. Any temperature when you would take off your coat or jumper just to be in a tee shirt is also too hot for these.
We did stock them, and whilst they serve a specific purpose, they weren’t the best value for money. This is due to the fact that I would advise against them if you are a working horse owner who can’t get to your horse every time the weather changes.
Bad Egg No.2
Mesh fly Rugs. These are nowhere near as bad as waterproof rugs during hot weather, but what is the purpose of these rugs? Most of the time when loving horse owners buy these, it's to protect from flies. But they are predominantly used during summer when it's hot and sunny. Would it not be better to get something that can also protect your horse from the sun and reflect the sun's rays to help keep your horse cool?
Apart from the pure functionality of the mesh rug, when it comes to durability, could there be anything worse you could put on a horse? With a large open weave to catch on every bush, branch or fence post? Seriously, how many of you have had one of these shred on you within the first couple of days?
You can get very strong mesh rugs made by the more popular brands that will last, but they are really quite expensive. So, unless you are happy spending that kind of money, why not save the planet from shredded mesh and get a good rug that protects from flies and the sun.
Something To Consider
In my personal opinion, the best rugs for summer are all very similar. And as much as I hate to admit it being a Kiwi; the original design of these fantastic performing rugs comes from across the ditch… Australia! Now Australia can get hot, REALLY hot, so they don't want to just protect from flies, but keep the sun away and keep the horses cooler.
Horse rugs are referred to as lots of different things all around the world. Cooler rugs, wicking rugs, etc etc, it gets very confusing.
So, for the sake of my sanity but more importantly yours I'll just refer to them as fly rugs.
What Are Fly Rugs For Horses?
Fly rugs for horses are all made from a strong but lightweight, tightly woven WHITE or LIGHT coloured material.
If you think about the kind of clothing people wear that live in really hot parts of the world, it's basically all white and natural fibres. However, these types of fabrics would not be strong enough to last on a horse out in the paddock so many of the horsey versions are 100% synthetic. Some are a blend of cotton and synthetic fabrics which won't be as durable as the 100% synthetic versions. But, they do give a little bit more comfort as they are able to draw sweat and not be quite as prone to create static shocks. When it rains, they get wet and dry quickly.
The AniMac Allrounder Fly Rug is made from 50% cotton and 50% synthetic fabrics with no belly straps. The reason for not having them is 2 prong.
Firstly, belly straps are one of the biggest weak spots on a horse rug. They are likely to be the cause for a rug being ripped or coming loose and getting tangled in the horse's legs. Secondly, they don't need them to stay on, not on these lightweight summer rugs anyway… trust me.
Best Out There
Good value and practicality is the kiwi mindset and these are some rugs I think you can't go wrong with during summer.
So with all of this in mind, I've put together my list of the best five fly rugs for horses on the market today.
AniMac Allrounder Fly Rug Combo £34.00 ex VAT
- Available in 10 different sizes
- Breathable and protective from the suns rays
- Lightweight and affordable
Horseware Ireland Aussie Allrounder €102.95 incl VAT
- Water-resistant and lightweight
- UV Protection
Shires Equestrian Products Tempest Original Summer Shield With Mesh £49.99 incl VAT
- Blocks 90% of UV rays
- Breathable and protective from the suns rays
- Lightweight and quick-drying
Weatherbeeta Kool Coat Classic £47.99
- UV block 95
- Lightweight polyester
- Tail flap
Top Gear Equestrian Mark Todd Air Mesh Combo £62.99 incl VAT
- UV protection
- Breathable and protective
- Lightweight and adjustable
So there you have it, my top 5 fly rugs for horses this summer. And hopefully, you now have all the information you need to make your choice. Happy Shopping!
This blog was put together by Nathan Thorowgood, founder of AniMac.