It's that time of year again! The evenings are getting lighter and our thoughts are turning towards summer. But with so many fly rugs for horses available, finding the right horse rug can be tricky. With so many brands, options and add-ons working together with marketing and advertising language, it can all be a bit confusing.
Why I'm Writing About Fly Rugs For Horses
Kia Ora :) My name is 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 horse rugging guide for hot summer days, to highlight the best fly rugs for horses, 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 types of rugs I received regular negative feedback on. So I never advised our customers to buy these products. To this day, I still will not recommend these horse stable rugs to anyone I talk to about horse rugs. Keep reading to find out which products I wouldn’t recommend, and why.
I was born in New Zealand but for the last 5 years have been living and working in the UK. So I'm writing this horse rugging guide with the UK in mind. But, my perspective on rugs can be applied to any country with a similar climate and weather systems.
Both NZ and the UK have summers that can are hot one minute, then rain the next. When it comes to horse turnout rugs, I always prefer to be on the cautious side of keeping the horse comfortable and cool.
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
It sounds 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.
Whilst anything waterproof might be technically 'breathable', it simply will never be breathable enough for your horse on a hot summer day. If you discover moisture under one of these waterproof lightweight horse rugs, 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 horse shows or events. When you know rain is definitely coming and you are physically 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. 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 are nowhere near as bad as waterproof rugs during hot weather. However, I often find myself thinking, what is the purpose of these rugs?
Most of the time when loving horse owners buy these, it's to protect from flies. Yet they are predominantly used during summer when it's hot and sunny. Would it not be better to get something that can protect your horse from the sun AND reflect the sun's rays to help keep your horse cool?
Aside from functionality, when it comes to durability I couldn't think of anything worse to 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 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.
HORSE RUGGING GUIDE
As much as I hate to admit it being a Kiwi; the original design of the best summer fly rugs comes from across the ditch… Australia! Now Australia can get hot. Really hot. They don't want to just protect their horses from flies, but keep the sun away and keep the horses cool.
Horse rugs are referred to as lots of different things all around the world. Cooler rugs, wicking rugs, 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.
WHY USE 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 type 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 offer a little 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. There are 2 reasons our fly rugs do not have belly straps.
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 our lightweight summer rugs anyway… trust me.
TOP 5 SUMMER FLY RUGS FOR HORSES
Good value and practicality is the kiwi mindset. So I've put together my list of the best five fly rugs for horses on the market today.
AniMac Allrounder Fly Rug | £40 inc. VAT
- Available for Standard, Pony, Mini and Heavy horses.
- Lightweight and breathable
- Affordable and durable
Houseware Ireland Amigo® Aussie All Rounder | €109.95 inc. VAT
- Water-resistant and lightweight
- UV Protection
- Blocks 90% of UV rays
- Breathable and protective from the suns rays
- Lightweight and quick-drying
- UV block 95
- Lightweight polyester
- Tail flap
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. Happy Shopping!
This blog was put together by Nathan Thorowgood, founder of AniMac.