There are many types of summer rugs for horses out there! So many brands with different options. I know it can all be a bit confusing.
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: waterproof outers
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 ponchos or old-school UMBRO waterproof coats when the sun is out? No? Me either.
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 their horses 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 else 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 in really hot parts of the world, it's basically all white and natural fibres. However, these fabrics are not strong enough to last on a horse out in the paddock all day. That is why 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 are not as prone to accruing static energy. When it rains, they get wet and dry quickly.
Belly straps- are they necessary for summer rugs?
The AniMac Allrounder Fly Rug is made from 50% cotton and 50% synthetic fabrics and has no belly straps for two key reasons. Firstly, belly straps are a weak spot on a horse rug. They are likely to be the cause of a rug being ripped, coming loose or getting tangled around 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.
#1: AniMac Allrounder Fly Rug | £40 inc. VAT
- Available for Standard, Pony, Mini and Heavy horses.
- Lightweight and breathable
- Affordable and durable
#2: Houseware Ireland Amigo® Aussie All Rounder | €109.96 inc. VAT
- Water-resistant and lightweight
- UV Protection
#3: Shires Equestrian Tempest Original Fly Mesh Combo | £46.99 inc. VAT
- Blocks 90% of UV rays
- Breathable and protective from the suns rays
- Lightweight and quick-drying
#4: Weatherbeeta Breeze with surcingle III Combo Neck | £77.99
- UV block 95
- Lightweight polyester
- Tail flap
NUMBER FIVE: Mark Todd Air Mesh Combo | £69.99
- 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.
If you found this useful why not check out some of other articles:
- When to rug a horse.
- What rug should you put on your horse?
- How to store your horse rugs.
- Horse rug types.