14 winter rug hacks

Lugging wet and muddy rugs across the paddock or trying to dry them when it never stops raining is just part of winter’s misery for horse owners. Here are some simple tips and tricks for caring for rugs

1. Gaffer tape/duct tape is a great emergency solution for rug rips. It’s waterproof, and will hold the rip together for a day or two.

2.  Buy some iron-on denim repair patches – you can get these at Spotlight or online. Put the patch under the tear with the adhesive side up, position the tear neatly over the patch with the edges as close as possible, put a cloth over the area and hold the iron down over the whole thing for the designated amount of time.

3. Believe it or not, dental floss is useful for hand-sewing tears and patches in rugs. It’s strong, waterproof and easy to sew through thick rugs. 

4. A pack of rubber lamb castration rings (from a rural supplies store) is handy to put over the t-clips on cross surcingles, so they won’t come undone.

5. If your horse is clipped right out, a thin cotton rug underneath the paddock rug is easy to chuck in the washing machine, and will help keep the coat nice. Putting silicone spray on the shoulders will help prevent the rubbing that seems to happen when horses have more than one rug on. If your horse is specially prone to shoulder rubs, line the shoulders of the cover with pure silk – you can often find silk scarves at a charity shop to make patches out of.

6. Cable ties and baling twine are handy for emergency repairs – you can cable tie a leg strap to the clip if it breaks, or plait a new leg strap from baling twine. 

7. If you bring your horses in plastered with mud, leave the rug on the horse and hose the mud off. The rugs will dry more quickly if they are wet but not muddy.

8. Another good tip to replace broken leg strap clips is carabiner snaps, which you can get from a hardware store. They are cheap and easy to fit.

9. A lubricant spray such as CRC is good to put on your buckles and leg strap clips from time to time, as it helps repel water and keeps them moving freely.

10. Don’t throw old rugs away. Cut the buckles and straps off them, and use the best bits of the fabric for making patches for repairs. You can then donate them to your local animal shelter as dog bedding.

11. At the end of the season, don’t wash turnout rugs in a washing machine unless they are really, REALLY bad. After washing, they are never the same in terms of waterproofness. Just dry them out, brush of the mud and store them.

12. If you DO have to wash them, only use non-biological washing powder.

13. If you don’t want a dirty rug in your washing machine, and can’t find a laundromat that will accept horse rugs, you can wash them in a wheelie bin! Put several in at a time, put the hose in, and stomp on the rugs.

14. Finally, you get what you pay for! Invest in quality rugs – the fittings will be stronger, the fabric will last and they will be more waterproof for longer.

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