Also be sure to read our detailed guide on how to wash you horse rugs here.
Horse rugs are subject to wear and tear from regular use throughout a season. A good maintenance routine will help extend the life of your horse rugs. No matter the quality or cost of your rug they are still made from fabric and are likely to experience damage at some stage, no matter how 'rug friendly' your horse is.
Fortunately a good rug repairer and a little common sense can help extend the life of your horse rugs. Presenting your rug repairer with a cleaned rug will get a much happier response than taking it in dirty, muddy or worse - poop-coated rugs. If you are new to horses or rugging, it is a good idea to source a local rug repairer through your horse network. Rug repairers are talented people with special abilities to resurrect most rugging mishaps - but remember they are not magicians.
Like with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a tonne of cure and this definitely applies to horse rugs!
Any cuts, nicks or frayed stitching are best dealt with by immediately removing the rug from the horse and getting repaired. What might only be a small snag can very quickly become a full blown tear if it gets caught or a paddock mate finds it to play with. That bit of poly fill poking out the rug in the morning can turn into a snow-storm of fluff across your paddock in the afternoon and your horse innocently standing amongst it (true story!).
Leg straps are a commonly damaged part of a rug and so easily fixed. Fitting leg straps properly can help minimise this sort of damage - but anything can happen with horses. Leg strap clips get stood on, filled with dirt or break during an incident.
All Caribu horse rugs have removable leg straps and replacement leg straps are available to purchase . It is a good idea to keep a spare set or two in the tack room so a broken leg strap does not mean the end of the rug and it can still be used. If a leg strap has been damaged, take the time to check the stitching around the 'd' ring attachments on the rug at both ends of the strap for any signs of strain or stretching in the fabric or stitching. If this is visible, it might be a good idea to take the rug in for some preventative repair.
If your rug has survived in one piece to the end of a season, rather than stuff it in a storage bin or throw it to the back of the shed until you need it again next year, a little bit of maintenance can help the rug be serviceable next time you need it. This particularly applies to winter rugs. Often it is not until we need them in the first cold snap of a season that we pull out a mouldy rug only to find rips we forgot about , mould or chewed holes. When you think it is time to put the big turnout rug away for the last time, this is a good time to a lay it out or throw it over a rail to check for cuts, frayed stitching or stress points.
- Spot clean and gently brush off any dirt on the outside of the rug.
- If your horse has left his winter coat on the lining of his winter rug, remove the hair either with a curry comb or vacuum. This is the main reason we recommend using a ripstop or moleskin under winter rugs - while the outer shell of the rug may get dirty, the underside stays clean and does not need regular laundering.
- Give all rugs a good airing and make sure they are completely dry before putting in to storage. If you are going to wash the rug, follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions and dry well.
- Check the leg straps, chest buckles, belly surcingles and neck straps. If any of these show signs of wear, or are still being held together with twine after your emergency repair earlier in the season, they should be either replaced or reinforced for use next year with a visit to the rug repairers.
- If you have a canvas rug the end of the season is a good time to re-proof it and allow it to fully dry before storing, ready for next year.
- Store in an air tight drum or bin so that rats and mice cannot get to them and they stay clean ready for your next season.
A quick stock take of rugs you have ready and stored away will help you know which rugs you may need to replace before the start of the next season.