It can be a little confusing sometimes to work out what size and weight cover you need for your horse, so we thought we’d put together this handy little guide to help you.
Not only are there two different common methods of sizing that you’ll come across, commonly referred to as NZ and International, they are both completely different in how they are measured. To help clarify the differences we’ve made this diagram for you…
There can be a bit of confusion over how exactly to make the measurements, and if you don’t do it consistently (and correctly) then you are likely to end up with a cover that is either too big or too small for your horse. As you can see in the above diagram, there are two ways of making the measurements – along the backbone to get the NZ sizing, or along the bottom (tummy) for International sizing.
In NZ, you will usually hear about cover sizing in terms of ’30 inches’ or ’37 inches’ and so on…this will almost always refer to the size of the cover along the top of the back from the neck seam to the tail seam. However it is difficult to make this measurement on the actual horse. To do this correctly you need for the horses head to be down (scatter something yummy on the ground to occupy them), and then to correctly identify the point on the neck, forward of the whithers, where the neck seam of the cover would sit, and then measure back to nearly the end of their backsides, just a tad beyond where the tail hair starts. It’s definitely more of an art than a science, but once you’ve figured it out the first time you can confidently measure any mini horse and get it right.
What we recommend instead, at least for those ordering a cover for the first time, or having trouble getting the right sizing, is to make the International measurement along the belly of the horse. This doesn’t require any special posture or guesswork as to where the tape starts and ends. It simply is a measurement from the middle of the chest, around the lower part of the belly (about where it is widest) and ending up midway between the rear legs at the back under the tail. From this measurement it is a simple conversion to get the equivalent NZ sizing. Here’s a couple of pictures to show how to make this measurement:
There is also a bit of a difference also between Miniature Horse covers and what we will refer to as Full Size Horse Covers. With Mini horses, the terminology tends to be to refer to the size in straight inches, so you will hear people talk about a “30 inch cover”, whereas with full-size horses they are usually referred to as “5 foot 6” and similar. The following charts should help you to understand the relative differences…
The weight of a cover is measured in terms of grams per square meter, or more commonly just “grams”. So the higher the number, the heaver and warmer the cover will be. Our covers have the following weights:
No-Fill…just the inner lining and the outer protective cover
150g…a mid-weight cover that is perfect for those inbetween days
300g…a warm cover perfect for cold days and clipped horses
We find that it is worthwhile having all three weights of cover available, and from experience have found that these three will serve all of our needs even down in the colder part of the country. If you live in a warmer area you may not need a 300g cover at all…but even in the warmest areas you would need a minimum of 150g for a clipped horse in the cooler conditions. We also have very light cotton summer sheets which are ideal for clipped horses to prevent sunburn and overheating if shade is minimal (i.e. at shows).
You will see a wide range of different weights around – 100g, 400g and the like. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the possibilities and with trying to get the ‘perfect’ weight, which is why we have kept it simple. We have the two extremes – no-fill and 300g, plus one in-between. This really is all you need, and for those exceptional occasions where you need something even warmer, you can also layer covers or add a cover on top of a stable rug.
As a general rule though, for any given weather condition, it is preferable to err on the side of lightness rather than choose a heavier cover, as a horse can easily warm itself up if it has access to food and water, but they have more difficulty cooling themselves down…they do not pant like dogs and instead sweat like us…and if they have a cover on and are sweating then they risk overheating, even if clipped! Simple rule: If your horse is sweating, take a cover off.
Then there is the fabric of the outer cover itself. This is rated using a measurement known as “denier”, which is a measure of the density of the weave. The higher the number, the denser (and heavier and stronger) the weave will be. All our regular covers use 1200 denier Oxford weave fabric, which we have found to be strong, durable and offers good weatherproofing.
Every horse is different, with breed, age and condition all being factors in how they can stay warm and comfortable. The best thing of course is to keep a close eye on your horses and be aware of the conditions and their comfort and be prepared to help them out whenever you can.
Comfort & Fit
There are a few guidelines that you can follow to keep your horse happy and comfortable in and out of their covers…
- Try to get as good a fit as possible…ensure the cover is not too tight in any spots otherwise it will rub and chafe. Belly straps should not be hugging the tummy and leg straps should allow free movement.
- Ensure your covers are dry…a cover that is wet inside will prevent the horse from being able to regulate its temperature properly. If you have the choice, it is better to be rained on than suffer a wet cover.
- Clean muddy covers when you are able…we just hose ours down while draped over a fence and let them dry in the sun. Try to avoid machine washing or scrubbing and don’t use soaps or detergents as these will compromise the waterproofing.
- Check your covers regularly for signs of reduced waterproofing. If needed you can apply additional waterproofing from a range of products available on the market. Our covers are all 1200 denier so will naturally hold their waterproofing capabilities longer due to the tight weave, but wear and washing will eventually tax even the best of covers ability to keep out water.
- Always remove the cover if there is no real (from the horses perspective) need for it to be on. Your horse will be all the more happier for it.
- If your horse is sweating, remove the cover and ensure it has water and shade to cool down with.