Guide to Rug Fitting

When it comes to fitting horse rugs it is important to understand how rug sizes work; the best rug in the wrong size won’t be able to do the right job for your horse! But rug sizes can be a little confusing as different rug companies measure differently just like human clothes! Jeans from one brand will fit you perfectly but the same size in another brand will feel two sizes too big!

To confuse matters more, different countries and brands measure differently too and in different metrics! European rugs are measured in CM, horse rugs in Ireland and the UK measure in Feet and Inches and US measure in Inches! Bucas displays all 3 of these measures on the rug label, so for a 5’6 horse rug you will see 5’6 / 125 / 66”. Bucas always measures from the front of the chest to the tail, and we use a Bucas measuring tape which has been specially created to measure your horse correctly for a Bucas rug! Luckily, Bucas also has a useful horse rug size chart that you can refer to while measuring your horse to assist you in finding the best fit. You can access the horse rug sizing chart as well as more helpful information here.

Once you have chosen a rug it’s best to try it on your horse before full use. Make sure to keep your receipt, don’t remove the tags that are attached to the rug and try on the rug over a light summer sheet on the horse to keep the new rug clean. Keep the rug in pristine condition so that if you see that it is not the correct size it can be repackaged and returned to the shop in a saleable condition. Most, if not all, retailers will not accept a used rug that was bought in the wrong size, so it’s very important that you have the correct size for your horse!

Correctly rugging your horse

Pony club taught us how to put on a rug correctly for safety reasons but it’s also a useful tool to correctly placing your rug on your horse.

Fold the horse rug in 2 so that the whither area of the rug and the start of the tail flap are laying together, then place the rug over the withers/shoulder area of the horse. Close the front fittings and then unfold the rug down the horse’s body to the tail. Then close leg straps and adjust the fillet string, before closing cross surcingles. Always start at the front so that there is adequate room for the horse’s shoulders, the rug will naturally move backwards and in to position so there is no need to pull the rug backwards on the horse. Don’t ever put a rug on a horse and not check it daily, you would never put on a new pair of shoes and not remove them if you have breaking in sores. This goes the same for your horse in a rug, they can’t remove the rug if they get rubs from them, so it is your job to ensure rugs are checked on a daily basis.

Checking that your rug fits correctly

While our horse rug size chart and measuring tips will get you started in finding your horse’s ideal fit, you will still need to evaluate the rug once it’s on your horse.

The withers – the rug should sit in front of the withers; this is a very sensitive area of the horse. You should be able to insert your hand under the rug at the withers. A lot of people use whither pads at this area, which can help protect the area. If your horse has high withers or is very wide from the point of the withers to the front of the chest you might consider trying a High Neck style rug or a Big Neck Bucas rug. The Bucas Big Neck rugs are designed for horses that are wide across the shoulders, high withered, Stallions, Cobs, Draughts, Connemara and Friesians.

The chest – the rug should not gape or droop here, if it does it may be too big. Make sure you can slide your hand between the rug and the chest and that there is adequate room for the shoulders to move. Bucas also offer Chest Extenders for most Bucas rugs. These products help give a little bit of extra room for your horse at the chest area.

The flanks and the belly – these areas should be covered but the rug should not skirt or flare at the hip area – this means the rug is too big for the horse.

The hind quarters – the rug shouldn’t leave this area too exposed. Bucas suggests that your Bucas rug should end at the start of the tail, any longer than this is considered too long. If the rug is too long it can put huge pressure on the shoulder and whither area of the horse as all the weight is at the back of the rug, so it pulls everything backwards.

Straps and buckles – Make sure you have all the straps and buckles correctly fastened. Surcingles should always cross at the roundest part of the belly. You should allow one hand width between the belly and the strap. Leg straps can confuse a lot of people! But it is quite simple – take the left strap, attach it to the left-hand d-ring by the stitch marks of the cross surcingles, put through the horse’s legs and attach to the left D-ring where the fillet string is tied. Then take the right leg strap, attach to D-ring on the right-hand side at the stitch marks for the cross surcingles, bring through legs while looping through the left leg strap and then attach to right hand D-ring for the fillet string. You should be able to fit a hand between the strap and the inner thigh. This way of doing up the leg straps will help stabilise the rug while allowing the horse to move freely.

Need a Bucas measuring tape? Send an email to with your address and we can send you one in the mail or alternatively contact your local Bucas retailer for a measuring tape! If you’re in the market for a new horse rug, there’s no better place to start. Browse our wide range of quality products on our shop.

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