Waterproofing in horse rugs

Understanding how your synthetic turnout gets its waterproofing can be so valuable in understanding how to care for your rug and how to test if you think the waterproof is failing.

The chemically treated membrane is what lines the underside of the fabric in synthetic waterproof rugs and is what provides the waterproofing – the fabric itself does not. 

This membrane allows vapour, which is smaller than water molecules, to escape through the membrane while preventing water molecules from flowing through the fibres. It’s the quality of this membrane and how it is maintained that can create big variances in rugs meeting our expectations. Once the membrane is damaged, you can’t reseal it.

The quality of this membrane is the single biggest differential between cheap and more expensive rugs.  Many manufacturers sacrifice the quality of the membrane with a cheap alternatives - this creates a rug that leaks under heavy rain - or the membrane starts breaking down quickly when in use and the membrane starts to peel away from the fabric. It’s also very common to see waterproof deniers that do not have breathability built into the membrane - it’s simply waterproof. (This is how many manufactures offer cheaper rugs - by sacrificing breathability.

Test to see if your rug is waterproof

Sometimes a horse can be damp under his horse rug (see why further below). The best way to check you horse rug fabric is still waterproof is to use a sink or large tub, lay the rug over the top and create a small indent with the denier – ensure you choose an area of the rug with no fittings or seams. Then pour a few glasses of water into the indent and allow the water to pool. The denier should hold the water and not allow any seepage to the inside. What else assists a rain sheet to be waterproof? 

Taped Seams - Our waterproof rugs have taped seams behind stitching and seams, but no rug will ever be 100% waterproof. This is because all rugs contain stitching, webbing & fastenings that cannot always be tape seamed to prevent water penetration. Tape sealing doesn't create a 100% waterproof seam, it simply slows water entry down significantly. We use tape on all our side seams and on the stitching behind belly surcingle and leg strap attachments.