We can recommend DeMeulenkamp Sweet Itch Rugs above all others, and for an economy rug, the Pagony economy rug and hood.
The DeMeulenkamp "Itch-Off" rug was developed by an Icelandic horse breeder in Holland, who was pleased with the results using other sweet itch rugs (he used to be the Dutch Boett dealer), but who resented the very high prices being charged. He decided to invent his own rug and sell it at a price which is reasonable. Along the way, he improved the original, using stronger elastic which does not go loose, darted shoulders and three girth straps to prevent sagging of the belly piece. By the way, you pronounce it "Duh Moo Len Kamp"!
Sweet itch rugs have become a recognized treatment and are recommended by numerous vets. The protection works both against insect bites and the sun. Itching is soothed or eliminated completely. Horses calm down and show normal behaviour. The look of a horse with this outfit might make your neighbour smile, but the sweet itch sufferer will be quite happy with his or her new looks.
Sweet itch is a horrible condition brought on by an allergy to midge bites. Lotions, potions, feed supplements and other treatments may help, but the only way to truly help your horse is to prevent him being bitten in the first place. Sweet itch rugs work by preventing midges and flies biting your horse, and also by protecting your horse from injury if he does decide to rub. They work best if you put them on early in the season, before your horse has been bitten and starts rubbing. This varies depending on local weather conditions but in the UK it can be anywhere between the middle of March and the middle of May. In some areas, midges may be present nearly all year round.
True sweet itch rugs are designed to prevent midges from biting your horse, unlike ordinary fly sheets which allow midges in through gaps around the legs, tail and belly. Even some so-called "sweet itch rugs" are no more than glorified fly sheets as their material allows midges to bite straight through the rug!
DeMeulenkamp rugs are different. They are lightweight and breathable, and very comfortable for your horse to wear, with darted shoulders, shaped back and neck, and plenty of adjustment. The unique material is a very fine yet strong weave to withstand horseplay and completely deter the bites of midges. These rugs are meant to be worn 24/7 whenever midges might be around, and you should not need to stable your horse. They are showerproof, but if they get soaked in heavy rain they dry quickly and can be left on the horse. The rug comes in practical dark brown with black fittings (it's very dark, but does not make the horse hotter in the sunshine as it acts like an umbrella). We can also get rugs in light olive green but do not keep all sizes in stock. Click here to see how to fit the rug.
The rug can be machine-washed at 40 degrees centigrade / 104 degrees Fahrenheit. You should wash at least every 2 weeks or so - your nose will tell you when.
The rug must be worn 24 hours per day during the entire sweet itch season except when working the horse. If you do not keep to this strict dress code, the midges will find their victim easily and your horse will start itching again. Its fine in the rain - the rug will dry out very quickly on the horse. When riding, apply fly repellent, concentrating on the midline (back and belly), legs, mane and tail area. In some areas of the country the midge season may last virtually all year round (midges will fly whenever the temperature is about 4 Centigrade and the wind speed is below 12mph). If your horses gets chilly, it's fine to use a normal turnout rug on top of the sweet itch rug.
Horses wearing the rug are fine in hot weather. Body motions are not hampered, bodily functions can be performed normally including rolling, suckling foals and even covering. Above approx. 30 degrees centigrade / 86 degrees Fahrenheit the horse may sweat lightly on his chest or neck, but no more than un-rugged horses. We have horses all over the world wearing these rugs, including Saudi Arabia, Dubai, California, Florida, Southern Spain, Greece and so on. The rugs are lightweight, breathable and comfortable, and horses are fine wearing them even when it's very warm.
Horses with sweet itch generally understand quickly that the rug is doing them good and will allow it to be put on or off with little or no problems. It is inadvisable to put on a wet rug. For such cases a second, already dry, rug is recommended. But rugs dry very quickly.
Obviously, the rug cant cover your horse from top to tail. For the bits which arent covered, like sheaths on geldings, udders on mares etc, use fly repellent regularly. We find Nettex Stop-Itch, Beelzebug and Camrosa very good. Another thing worth trying is the baby product Sudacrem - it's cheap and effective, and available from Boots or most chemists.
For more advice on looking after the itchy horse or pony, click HERE
With geldings, and certainly with stallions who are more prone to play and fight, the rug should last approx. 2 years; this period may be longer with mares. From time to time youŽll have some needlework to do. Your rug will come in a cloth bag - if necessary, use the bag for patching the rug. If the rug is torn, it will not "run", but its advisable to mend the hole as soon as possible. Rugs can be mended by hand or on a normal home sewing machine. Horses and barbed wire do NOT mix. Sweet itch horses and barbed wire are a terrible combination. Please, for your horses sake - do not use barbed wire, and if you must, protect your horse with electric fencing to keep him off the barbs.
In the UK some insurance companies accept sweet itch rugs as a treatment. You might try asking for some refund for your expenses!
DeMeulenkamp Udder Covers for mares are ready for you to sew onto your existing sweet itch rug (any make that has a belly flap).
A great economy rug and matching hood for less severe sufferers, or to use as a spare. Click HERE for details.