Rugging a horse during hot weather is a key consideration for all owners when you need to take care of a horse in summer. It’s often a necessity to protect sensitive horses from skin irritations, such as sweet itch, or to offer UV protection and protect against sunburn. Clare Silke, product innovation manager at Horseware Ireland, shares what you need to know about using fly rugs in hot weather.

The majority of fly sheets currently available are designed using breathable fabrics to ensure water vapour and body heat can exit from beneath the rug, while also offering protection from the external environment.

What fly rug should I choose?

When choosing a fly rug, look for those composed of a natural fabric blend, such as polycottons, to maximise breathability.

The colour of fly rugs and summer sheets also has a bearing on heat retention — look for colours that are pale and light-reflecting. While it seems counter-intuitive to put a horse in white (it’s going to get dirty!), white is naturally light-reflecting and acts to prevent heat being absorbed by the fabric, thus reducing the risk of overheating.

As temperatures and weather conditions fluctuate, it’s critical that you monitor changes in your horse. I always advise that owners are the best judge of their animal’s needs. As temperatures climb or UV levels increase, anything that you put on your horse can add heat. It’s similar to use wearing T-shirts and shorts when the sun is out — we can still get sweaty and hot depending on our level of activity and whether or not we can escape the sun and find some cover.

So monitor your horse’s active signs and ensure that they have access to water (for hydration) and shade at all times. This enables them to fully benefit from the protection of a fly rug or summer sheet while preventing the horse getting too hot and uncomfortable.

Meet the expert: Clare Silke is the product innovation manager at Horseware Ireland’s HQ. Clare worked with designers producing collections for London Fashion Week before joining Horseware Ireland in 2012.

Receive six issues of Your Horse magazine for just £15!

Find out what’s inside the latest issue of Your Horse

Get the latest issue