To do the job you bought it for and for safety too, your horse’s rug must fit. A well-made and fitting rug will cover your horse from the back of his ears to the top of his tail. The overall impression is that it follows the contours of his body and is a good depth too — you don’t want it to look like a mini skirt.

How to measure your horse

It’s important to make sure you buy the right size rug for your horse. Here’s how to work out his size:

  1. Using a length of string, measure from the middle of your horse’s chest around his shoulder and all the way along his side and around to the point of buttock.
  2. Cut or tie a knot in the length of string. Measure the string to find out what size rug your horse is.
  3. Rugs are normally measured in feet and inches but will usually quote the size in centimetres too. Another measurement to take is the back seam length — this is from the top of the withers to the top of the tail.

Front fastenings

There should be no pressure on your horse’s chest once the fastenings are done up. Check you can slide your hand inside the rug easily. Also check that you can slide your hand down the side of your horse’s shoulder and around to his chest with no restriction.


Make sure the rug sits two to four inches in front of your horse’s withers. This will be more comfortable for him and will avoid pressure and rubbing on this area.

Length of rug

The rug should finish at the top of your horse’s tail. This will ensure that he is protected from wind and rain. Some rugs are shaped around the hindquarters for a closer fit.


Adjust and fasten the surcingles so you can fit a hand’s width between your horse’s belly and the surcingles. Fasten the surcingles too tight and they will pull the rug down onto your horse withers, which may cause rubbing. Too loose and your horse may catch a leg in them when he rolls.

Neck cover

The length of neck may look a little generous when your horse has his head up. You want the neck cover to be long enough that none of his neck is exposed to the elements when he is grazing. The depth of neck is also important — you don’t want it to be tight otherwise it will rub his mane.

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