Rug Fitting Advice

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Rug Fitting Advice from the Experts at Bucas

Don’t forget to take a look at our video below for a rug fitting size guide for your horse…

The way a rug is designed and fitted can affect your horse’s comfort and performance. It is vital that a rug is neither too big nor too small and is suitable for your horse’s type, condition and environment. Here the experts at Bucas provide advice on rugging to get the perfect fit.

Fitting Your Rug Correctly

A badly fitted rug can cause rubs on all pressure points as well as put your horse at risk, especially if his rug is too big.

Do you know how to ensure your horse’s rug fits properly? Read on to find out more.


How Do I Measure My Horse?

In theory, all rug sizes should be the same, but in reality, this may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer so check before you order. Your horse may take a 6’3” in one brand but needs to move up to a 6’6” in a tighter fitting make, so check how the rug sizes up before you buy.

To get the correct size rug for your horse, measure him from the centre point of the chest, over the high point of the shoulder, and then to the rear of the hind leg. Use the Bucas sizing tape to ensure you get the right size rug for your horse.

Bucas Products - Rug Measuring Tape
Bucas Products – Rug Measuring Tape. Photography by Gerard McCarthy

When choosing the correct size don’t just think about the length of the rug, but also the depth. It needs to fit around your horse but not be too long to cause accidents. A horse with a deep body may not be suited to some designs as they will not offer him suitable coverage.

Watch the video below for an excellent visual on how to measure your horse using a Bucas measuring tape.

Where Do I Position The Rug?


A simple point maybe, but is your horse’s rug where it should be?

A few points to remember;

  • The chest closure should be fastened so that the fabric overlays.
  • The rug should be gently slid backwards until the front seam rests naturally forward of the withers.
  • Do not pull the horse rug over the coat in the opposite direction in which the hair lies.
  • The top of the tail flap should rest at the top of the tail.
  • The rug should not be pulled too far back as it will only ride back further – It is best to leave the rug further forward because as the horse moves the rug will slide back with the movement of the horse.

Is my horse restricted?

When fitting a rug you want to make sure that there is enough space in it to accommodate for the horse’s movement. This will allow the horse to let off some steam in the field or roll in the stable comfortably.

Bucas Freedom Turnout Coffee
Is there enough space in your horse’s rug to accommodate for movement? Rug in image: Freedom Turnout Coffee, BUCAS

This enables the horse to move freely when he trots, canters, bucks and generally fools around, preventing rubs to the pressure points such as the shoulders, withers and hindquarters.

When in the stable, an uncomfortable horse often leads to ripped rugs or no rugs at all, if they manage to get out of it. Therefore make sure your horse does not feel restricted or too hot in his rug.

Run your hand between the rug and around the horse’s chest, if you can’t fit your hand in you will know that it is too tight.

How Do I Know The Rug Fits Correctly?

Every horse is a different shape, an individual and therefore certain styles will not suit some horses.  It is important that when fitting a rug you ensure that it does not gather up on the hind quarters.

A badly fitted rug will not lay flat on the horse’s back end and so expose some of its coat, and cause rubbing on pressure points such as on the point of the hip.

If the rug is too big and drapes over the horse’s back end, it is simply asking for trouble and poses a danger to your horse. In this situation, the horse can easily get caught up in the rug or get attached to a fence in the field.

It should also be noted that a rug which is too large can cause as much rubbing as a rug which is too small.

Are The Surcingles Suitably Adjusted?

It is important to check that the surcingles fit around your horse’s stomach.

In some cases once the rug is completely fastened the fit is different and highlights tighter areas which you might not have seen if the rug was just placed on the horse.

Always remember to allow a hand’s width between the horse’s body and the straps.

Problems and Solutions

  • If leg straps and surcingles are not loose enough to allow a hand’s width, your horse will suffer from rubbing.
  • Rugs that are too loose or too big can cause huge problems.  Legs can get caught up in leg straps and turned out horses may get straps caught on fences.
  • The majority of ripped rugs are as a result of horses getting their legs caught up in the straps, particularly when rolling.  Make sure this can’t happen. Most horses roll when first turned out, so observe him rolling to make sure there are no issues with the straps.
  • If your horse suffers from shoulder rubs go for a rug with a silk-feel lining to help prevent rubs.

For further information please contact Zebra Products on (01352) 763350 or visit Zebra Products.


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Author: Suzanne Ashton Founder, Everything Horse Ba Hons Marketing Management email:

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