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Using Under Rugs – Wool or Cottons?

Using Under Rugs – Wool or Cottons?
Category: Horse Talk Knowledge Base
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Selecting suitable rugs for your horses can come down to a number of factors. Even a horses temperament is something that needs to be considered. Let us take the guess work out of it for you.

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 waterprrof turnout style of horse rug. They are aimed at keeping your friend comfortable, whatever the conditions. Both styles of rugs have there 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 warmer when wet, which is especially important in cold weather and allows a slow, gradual cool-down to prevent muscle soreness.

Wool Blanket
Wool Blanket

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 blanket 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 more dense 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 Ripstops

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 rug in the cooler months.

If you like to layer your rugs up underneath a turnout combo horse rug to achieve a 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
Cotton Blanket

Downside of ripstop cotton horse rugs is that they don’t insulate like a wool rug can. When wet cotton tends to stick close to the horses 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.

Comments on Using Under Rugs – Wool or Cottons?

Paula Sunday, June 4, 2017 07:00 AM
I actually put a rain sheet over my light fill rug when it pours with great success. The water seems to run off the sheet and keeps the filled rug super dry. I find the fill rug gets heavy, and wet on the bottom drop section otherwise. And then I rotate with a new dry sheet. The sheets are light to take off and drys out quicker. Horse doesn't sweat up and no excess pressure on his wither from excess weight from a wet rug.
DM Friday, May 8, 2015 02:58 PM
My agister likes to layer a cotton lined rainsheet under a 300g fill turnout rug over night for convenience, so the next morning she only has to remove one rug... To me that seems like my horse wouldn't be able to breathe... Is doubling 2 polyester rugs unhealthy? Would I be better off with a moleskin under rug or a wool under rug? I'm just uncomfortable about the idea of my horse wearing 2 rugs for convenience rather than taking his well being into account. When I was rugging him myself, he seemed fine in just a 300g fill turnout even in -1 degree weather.

Caribu Note: We would agree - use a moleskin, wool, polofleece etc under the turnout . Using a turnout over another turnout would create all sorts of issues. Poor breath ability, excess weight and restricted movement to name a few....

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