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How to put on a horse’s rug

Posted on 29 August 2017 by Kim

How to put on a horse's rug

Putting on a horse’s rug is easy…if you know what you’re doing but if you don’t know or if you just want to check if what you're doing is right, here are a few pointers from Kim...

  • Put a head collar on and tie up your horse securely
  • Check that the front straps or buckles are undone and that the leg straps are secured back to themselves so that they don’t swing round and hit the horse’s legs or belly
  • Gently place the rug on his back. Horses that are used to rugs, are not frightened when the rug is thrown up and over their back but this may not so with a young or difficult horse especially if it’s for the first time. So, go slowly just in case!
  • Position the rug so that it sits forward, in front of the wither.
  • Fasten the chest straps. The top chest strap should be fastened to the first or second hole. If you are using the third hole or more, it may suggest the horse may need a larger rug size.
  • Check the fit at the front by sliding your hand down inside the neck of the rug once it’s fastened.
  • Adjust the surcingle straps that go under his belly. Use the sliding adjustment bars on the surcingle straps to make them longer or shorter as needed. They should be an even length and should create an even cross or 'x' in the centre of the horse's belly.
  • Check the fit of the surcingle straps. There should be hand's width between the straps and belly.
  • Fasten the leg straps if the rug has them: pass the left-hand strap around the left hind leg and fasten it back on itself on the left side. Then pass the right hand one around the right hind leg, loop it through the left strap, and fasten it back on itself on the right-hand side.
  • Check the fit of the leg straps. Once again there should be hand's width between the leg straps and the horse’s thigh to allow for movement.
  • Stand away from your horse once you think you’ve finished just to check that everything is done up that should be done up and everything's in the right place.
  • Give your horse an encouraging pat to say well done and thank you for standing nicely!

Putting a rug on correctly will go a long way to extending the life of the rug as well as the comfort for your horse.

Over to you!

Have I missed anything? Do you have any tips that work well for you? Help a fellow equestrian - share them in the comments below!

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Kim Horton

Co-Founder of EQUUS and a keen equestrian, when Kim's not at her desk she's with her horse, Waldo.


  • Jayne posted on August 29 2017 at 10:08 PM

    I always fold the rug in half and put it over the horse’s back a little above the withers. I fasten front straps and then pull rest of rug over the back so the hairs lay flat. I then fasten cross circingles and pull tail over filet string

  • Kim posted on August 30 2017 at 08:08 AM

    I have always looped one leg strap back through the other one to make a cross which lifts away from the horses back legs.

  • AM Gartland posted on August 30 2017 at 08:08 AM

    Yes that is correct Thornylyn, the rug should always be folded (tail to mane) before putting on horse, surcingles should also be crossed (tied in a knot) before putting rug on, this stops them flapping about and hitting horse legs or frightening a young horse , this is also done when taking the rug off.

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