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Using Under Rugs – Wool Or Cottons?

Posted by Caribu Team on July 11, 2019

Figuring out what kind of under blanket you should use on your horse seems like a simple choice, but it’s more complicated than you might think. The right Horse Rug changes according to the overall climate, the weather, whether they are indoors or outdoors, the individual horse, and what job you expect it to do. Easy, right?

Under rugs are usually used underneath a waterproof turnout style of horse rug. They are aimed at keeping your friend comfortable, whatever the conditions. Both styles of rugs have their advantages. However, you still need to read your horse's comfort level and make adjustments as needed.

Wool for warmth

Wool is an excellent insulator and has the advantage of being breathable, too. A wool horse blanket works on the same principle as your wool socks. The great thing about wool compared to other materials is that it stays warm when wet, which is especially important in cold weather and allows a slow, gradual cool-down to prevent muscle soreness.

Wool wicks moisture really well. After a winter exercise, you can throw a wool horse blanket over a sweaty horse, come back later and find that the top of the blanket is damp, maybe even icy, but the horse is dry and warm underneath. Furthermore, wool has the capacity to absorb up to three times its weight in moisture, which means you don't have to keep switching out blankets on a sweaty horse. Wool is also durable, making the rug less likely to rip or fray. All of our wool horse rugs contain a high quality 80% wool blend, making them an excellent value and a great choice for insulation and durability.

We find a wool rug outperforms a polo fleece rug in strength, durability, breathability and general comfort.

Wool horse rugs do have some slight disadvantages. They are too warm for use as an under rug on those wet days in the warmer half of the year.

Because they do absorb so much water and are denser than other materials, they are quite a bit heavier than cotton when wet, so they may not be suitable for older horses. They are also a bit more difficult to wash. To prevent shrinking, all of our wool horse rugs are heat treated. However, we recommend washing in cold water and line drying to prevent bunching of the bindings.

Cotton Ripstop

Ripstop Cotton horse rugs are great general purpose rugs, they are strong and can take a beating and are perfect for general paddock use year round or use as an under the rug in the cooler months.

If you like to layer your rugs up underneath a turnout combo horse rug to achieve the desired insulation level – the rugs can start to get heavy and pull and fight against each other – then when your horse rolls or scratches – the extra stress can cause a less sturdy rug (like wool or polo fleece) to meet an early death.

Cotton Blanket

The downside of ripstop cotton horse rugs is that they don’t insulate as a wool rug can. When wet cotton tends to stick close to the horse's coat/skin, then as air moves over the fabric – it tends to have a cooling effect. – perfect on a humid wet summer day. You can see why this would be a disadvantage in cold or rainy weather.

That being said – if you use a good quality turnout rug, any under rug should stay nice and dry.

Cotton and wool in the rain

It makes sense to have more than one type of horse rug available so you can layer if needed and adapt to changing conditions. Always keep your horse's well-being in mind, and check as often as possible on their comfort when they’re rugged.