Tiny holes and rips, and thick layers of dried-on mud. Sounds familiar? Rugs have a hard life, but as they come with a high price tag you’ll want them to be long-term investments.

Here are nine easy-to-follow tips to make sure your rugs last for years.

1. Choose the fabric of your rug wisely

.For turnout rugs that are going to be subjected to some tough use, buy a rug that’s made from a high denier material. The higher the denier, the tougher and heavier the fabric. For example, 1,200 denier and above is very strong, while 600 denier won’t be as robust. It may cost more for a higher denier rug, but it should last longer.

Ripstop fabric and ballistic nylon are two other features to look out for. Both fabrics are more resistant to tears and, if they do get ripped, the rips don’t tend to spread. This means it should be a lot easier to repair the damage so your rug is still usable.

2. Buy the correct size rug for your horse

A rug that is too big is likely to slip and may get trodden on and ripped when your horse is rolling, or worse still he may get caught up in it. The shape and cut of the rug will vary between different manufacturers, so it’s worth trying a few different brands to find which one suits your horse’s body shape the best.

3. Keep them clean

Remove mud and dirt from the outside of the rug daily using a stiff brush. Knock dirt off fastenings and keep the fillet string clean. Remove grease from the lining regularly, especially in areas such as the neck cover.

4. Make sure to dry them thoroughly

When your horse isn’t wearing a rug hang it up in a well-ventilated area so it can dry out, or not get damp.

You can buy specially made rug racks — usually with three or five arms that hang on a wall. Each arm swivels, making it easy to hang rugs on and when not in use it folds back against the wall. Prices start at £75.

There are also heated rug driers. These will ensure that your rugs are dry before you put them back on your horse and will help to keep rugs in good condition. Prices start at around £550.

5. Keep on top of repairs

Get any rips repaired as they happen to prevent further damage to the rug. This doesn’t necessarily mean sending the rug away for repair. Here are three different products that can all be found easily online so you can repair the rug quickly and easily:

  • Netproshop Rain Rug repair kit
    • Price £7
    • This set includes five pieces of material and glue and is available from Amazon.
  • Stormsure Horse Rug repair kit
    • Price £13
    • This kit includes two self-adhesive PU patches, three black nylon fabric patches, 15g Stormsure flexible repair adhesive, 5g Stormsure flexible repair adhesive, adhesive spreader and gloves. Visit stormsure.com
  • Nylon tape
    • Price £9.99
    • This is waterproof nylon tape that can be used on tears. Quick and easy to apply, it will strengthen the damaged area too. Available from Amazon.

6. Clean your rugs before storing them

You can clean them yourself, but it is time consuming and hard work. If you opt to do this read the washing instructions carefully on each rug.

It’s important that you don’t use any harsh detergents that may damage the material, especially the waterproofing on turnout rugs.

There are various products available that are specifically designed for cleaning rugs. These include NikWax Rug Wash, CleanRound Horse Rug Wash and Shires Equestrian Professional Rug Wash.

If you don’t fancy cleaning your rugs you can have them professionally cleaned. There are lots of companies around the country, and many will offer a collection/ delivery service.

Prices vary, but as a rough guide start from £8.50 for a stable rug wash and £15 to wash and reproof a turnout rug.

7. Consider reproofing

Turnout rugs may need reproofing, but check what you can use before doing it. It’s also worth considering that some rugs come with a warranty, such as Horseware and WeatherBeeta.

If you reproof turnouts during this period it may void your warranty, so check first.

8. Preparing to store

Make sure rugs are completely dry before packing them away. If your rug is damp it will go mouldy, stitching will rot and metal fastenings will corrode.

How you store your rugs once they are clean is important too. You want to keep them free from dust, dirt, moisture and rodents.

Most rugs when you buy them come in a reuseable bag. Once the rug is clean and dry, fold it up and pack it away in the bag.

Store your rugs away in a metal storage container or plastic boxes with lockable lids.

9. Replace or repair

It’s inevitable that over time your horse’s rugs will show the signs of wear and tear. But when do you need to repair and when do you need to replace? Mandy Adams from Newmarket Stable Care offers her advice.

Stable rugs can be repaired and washed many times, and are usually subjected to much less than turnouts, which means they will last for years and years if you keep them clean.

On turnout rugs, the waterproof membrane coating on the back of the outer material will eventually start to break down with use and age.

This may become obvious only if there is a tear in the material and you can see that the membrane has come away from the material. Sometimes you can feel this through the lining and padding.

When it becomes clear that your rug is no longer waterproof, it’s important to assess the cause.

Take time to look over your rug for damage to the outer fabric — sometimes this won’t be obvious until it’s clean.

Even the tiniest hole will let in water, and although there isn’t much that can’t be repaired you have to bear in mind, especially with turnout rugs, that if any repairs involve stitching you are putting tiny holes into the rug, which will compromise how waterproof it is.

Even reproofing may be less successful. It’s at this point that it is more cost effective to consider purchasing a new rug, rather than your horse getting wet and cold as the rug will no longer offer him the protection he needs. You can, of course, still use the older rug as a stable rug or keep it as a spare.

Don’t miss Your Horse’s Winter Rug Guide in the October issue (453)

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