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A good turnout rug or stable blanket should last for years, so it’s worth knowing how to repair horse rugs when the inevitable damage occurs to these well-used and expensive items.
The obvious option for those who loathe DIY is to send the rug away to a specialist repairer. However, this assumes your horse can manage without the damaged rug – and it isn’t always the cheapest option as they will usually require the rug to be cleaned as well. Although, you can wash your rugs at home and reproof them, too.
How to repair ripped rugs
First of all, it depends on the extent of the damage done. A large rip may need professional help, however if you are patient and skilled at sewing, one method is simply to sew a waterproof patch over the damaged area. You’ll need specialist upholstery needle and thread to cope with the tough fabric, or an industrial sewing machine. You can buy waterproof fabric on Amazon or eBay in the color you want, or you may have an old rug at home that is beyond repair which can be cut up to patch up the newer one.
Spread the rug out on a large table or the floor so that it can lay completely flat and give you the best chance of making a neat job. Backstitch will hold best if you can manage it. Once you have neatly sewn along the rip, seal it with a strong waterproof glue, such as Stormsure or Gorilla glue. You could also use glue to seal a patch in place.
For those who don’t fancy sewing, there are specialist rug repair kits available, such as Stormsure and Horseware’s versions. For small nicks, these patches (either self-adhesive or with glue) do the job well and prevent the rips from extending further. If the patches are too small for the rip, try tenacious tape which can be rolled out as long as you need it, or a tent repair kit. These typically come in a range of colours.
Repairing broken straps and buckles
A rug repairer may be the best option for dealing with broken straps and missing buckles if you have the time to wait. But if you are up for a challenge, this is the moment when that old, battered rug that is no longer waterproof or wearable comes into its own. You can reuse the buckles and clips on your newer rug if anything breaks. If the broken straps are not removable, you will need to cut them off first, noting how they are fixed so that you can copy this. Next replace, using webbing strap, copying the original fixture. You will need an industrial sewing maching or a very strong specialist upholstery kit to tackle the thick fabrics.
For a quick fix to a broken leg strap buckle, you can buy new carabiner clips or specialist buckles to attach the strap. Duct-tape over the old broken clip so that it won’t catch anywhere. Another emergency fix is to use binder twine as a fillet string under the horse’s tail instead of the crossover leg straps. Make sure you remove any trailing straps that cannot be fixed.
In a perfect world, our horses’ rugs would never tear, break – or get muddy – but with a few simple tricks and a bit of patience, you can make them last as long as they were intended to.
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