You might feel you need an extensive wardrobe of rugs to cope with seasonal challenges, but rather than heading to a tack shop to splash out on everything from a rain sheet to a super-warm heavyweight, a rug-layering system could be the answer.
Rug systems usually start with a lightweight, waterproof outer that can be used on its own on warmer days. Then, if you want to increase the amount of warmth, you simply attach a liner. Some systems come with one liner and others with several different weights, such as 100g, 200g and 300g. Neck covers may be included and some systems have interchangeable neck covers of different weights.
The outer rug and liners are designed so they can be fastened easily together. It’s a similar concept to using an under-rug, but when you buy a system all the elements are compatible and fit perfectly together, reducing the chance of them slipping or rubbing. Some manufacturers’ liners are also suitable to use with their stable rugs, offering extra value for money.
Build your own
If you don’t need a whole system, many retailers sell rugs and liners separately. This allows you to choose your basic turnout rug and the liner you think you’ll get the most use out of. You’ll also have the flexibility to buy an additional layer if you need one.
What it costs
The initial outlay for a rug system can be significant, but it can work out better value for money than buying individual rugs. And, while good-quality rugs will last, if the outer gets damaged, it will cost less to replace a lightweight turnout than a heavyweight one.
Before you buy a rugging system, consider exactly what liners your horse needs, then compare the cost of the standalone rugs to a turnout system. Weigh up the benefits and prices of different systems on the market and what’s included, bearing in mind that if your horse is unclipped and has a good winter coat, you’re unlikely to need a heavyweight liner.
Do the maths
Rug layering systems are very versatile, but think carefully about which liner you use to ensure your horse doesn’t overheat. Don’t forget the weight of the outer rug counts, so if you add a 300g liner to a 100g rug, the total weight is 400g, and the air trapped between each layer will add extra warmth, too.