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Understanding the Different Types of Horse Rug

Horse rugs come in no standard size, shape or style, just as no horse does. Further, horse rugs are not only worn to keep a horse warm and comfortable throughout the seasons; different styles of horse rugs are made for horses to wear for different conditions, times of the day and events.

Horse Rug - Understanding the Different Types of Horse Rug

Therefore, knowing which horse rug to buy, especially the first time round or for those new to owning their own horse, can be daunting – and potentially result in making costly mistakes, not just financially but when, for example, fitting a horse with in inappropriate blanket for the current season. A horse can easily get cold or begin to overheat.
Hence, here is a quick guide to understanding the different and most basic types of horse rug. Meanwhile, to browse and see for yourself one of the widest ranges of all the types of rugs discussed below and potentially required to buy .

Turnout Rugs

As the weather changes so too should the rug a horse is fitted with. In summary here are the turnout rugs, by weight, which most horses will require to remain comfortably temperate, dry and happy across all four seasons:


Most horses will not require a rug at all during the summer months for the purpose of staying warm. Thos which do will almost always only require wearing one at night when / if the temperature drops. Then, a light to medium weight rug will usually suffice.

You may also wish to invest in a summer sheet for a horse. Whilst being lightweight enough to prevent a horse from overheating, a summer sheet will also protect a horse whilst in a stable or travelling from dust and flies which might otherwise cause them annoyance anddiscomfort.


A medium weight rug is advised for horses which are likely to spend significant amounts of time out in the elements or in stables where they cannot keep moving to keep warm and generate body heat. Particularly thin skinned or horses with clipped coats might, in contrast, fair better wearing a heavy weight rug. Also, looks for a rug with a high denier rating for winter use. This will keep a horse more dry and comfortable as well as fair better in the wetter and windier months.

The Horse & Hound Magazine Online currently also feature a lo-down of the 8 Best Heavyweight Turnout Rugs, which you might find makes an informative read ahead of hitting the shops.

Spring / Autumn

Being transitory seasons, finding the right weight rug for both spring and summer usually means changing things up as the seasons go on.

In most cases though, a light weight and medium rug are advised and can be used across both months. Simply pay attention to the weather and changes in the temperature and condition come day and night.

Cooler Rugs

Placing a rug on a horse which is hot and sweaty directly after exercise might sound counterproductive, but cooler rugs in fact help to absorb the sweat produced by a horse. This draws the sweat away thus preventing it from irritating a horse’s skin or its coat whilst also enabling a horse to cool down gradually.

Travel Rugs

Fleece rugs make ideal travel rugs due to the fact that fleece is both a brilliantly breathable material but as well is capable of retaining heat. Hence, whilst a fleece rug won’t get a horse too hot and bothered neither will it allow them to get too cold whilst travelling or even when worn within a stable. For these reasons, fleece rugs also make ideal alternative cooler rugs.

Exercise Rugs

Exercise rugs are precisely as the name implies; these are rugs that horses can wear whilst being exercised and / or ridden. Some exercise rugs are worn beneath the saddle whilst others feature a cut-out section where the saddle is then placed.

By far one of the most popular brands of exercise rugs used and recommended by horse owners and riders to be sold in Europe is Thermatex. To learn why and / or shop for a Thermatex exercise rug, do so via the Official Thermatex website, If you own a horse, head over to view the Derby House horse rugs collection.

European Rug Sizing 

Getting the right rug for a horse and using the right rug require know-how, but so does ensuring you buy the correctly sized rug for a specific horse. Hence, ahead of purchasing any type of horse rug, first refer to a sizing guide. You can find a jargon free one that focuses on European rug sizing via the Shires Equestrian website.

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