Aero Loses his Stripes

I was very pleased with Aero’s Bucas Zebra Stripe fly rug initially.  It made a huge difference to his comfort from a ‘being bugged by flies’ point of view and it looked cute.  Apparently it was a talking point in the local villages (Did you see they have a zebra there now?  Is she training a zebra?) and it’s in loads of strangers’ holiday snaps – it was a regular occurrence to see a car stopped beside the horse’s field with a tourist beside it taking a photo of the horse disguised as a zebra.


I had concerns about a couple of things from the start, though, and I itemised them in my post It’s That Time of Year Again back in May :

The elasticated brow band is a waste of time – Yes, it is.  I’ve never used it.  I guess it makes the neck cover sit nicely for photo shoots.  Other than that, I can see no purpose for it.

There is no adjusting whatsoever of the metal fastener at the chest – Yes, this turned out to be a problem.

The belly-guard is clipped on to the inside of the rug by plastic clips which, again, have no possibility for adjustment – Yes, this also turned out to be a problem.

Those plastic clips on the belly-guard and on the leg straps strike me as being very breakable – Yes, one of them is already damaged, but still functioning.

Every fly-rug I have ever used on Aero slips backwards and this one is no exception. What it means for the belly-guard, though, is that one edge of it ends up right beside his sheath and there is no way it’s not going to get pee’d on – No, I was wrong here, the belly guard never got pee’d on.

The rug always sat well on Aero when it was put on, but after a few hours in the field, it would invariably have slipped backwards and twisted to the right hand side.  The front of the rug fastens to one side (the left) and I suspect that this is why it slips around the way it does – surely a central fastener would be better?  Because of the slippage, I never felt comfortable leaving it on Aero day and night, although I was able to do this with last year’s Weatherbeeta fly rug.  Still, I didn’t begrudge him the extra effort of getting up to the farm early in the mornings to rug him up and Alexandrine and her dad were very helpful about taking it off in the evenings, although it had to come off earlier than I would have preferred.  During a particularly warm spell a few weeks ago, I asked them to leave it on and I would nip up to the farm after dark every evening to remove it.

Then the weather changed.  It was consistently windy and temperatures dropped quite a bit – to the high teens/low twenties.  There were noticeably fewer flies around, so I left the rug off completely, noting that the clips on the belly guard had rubbed his sides slightly and thinking that it would be better for his skin and coat to be exposed to the air as much as possible.


The cooler weather lasted a couple of weeks and actually it hasn’t really warmed up again since, although we’re expected to hit the thirties again this week.  The net effect was that Aero didn’t wear the rug for maybe two weeks.  Then, two weeks ago, I was grooming Aero one morning and I was horrified to see the skin lifting off his withers, leaving a bald patch underneath.  The rug had rubbed him weeks earlier; I hadn’t noticed (Bad Me) and now the skin was coming off in chunks as it healed underneath.

I wasn’t happy.  Posts from Bucas keep popping up in my Facebook Newsfeed, so I visited their page, thinking I would leave a message there.  Quelle surprise… I wasn’t the first person to have this problem!  Quite a few people had left messages describing exactly the issues I’d had, but a couple of them followed up their posts, saying that Bucas had contacted them and helped them sort it out.

Ok, I though, and I sent off a polite email to Bucas describing the problem.  I received a reply almost immediately and, after a bit of back and forth looking for the manufacturer’s number from the rug, size of the rug, size of the horse etc, I was told they would send me a chest extender and a new belly guard.  Meanwhile, the trusty old Weatherbeeta was dusted off and called into service!


My parcel from Bucas arrived a couple of days ago.


Kudos to them for the speedy and helpful customer service.

I tried out the new attachments yesterday.


Well, the chest extender certainly extends the chest – but there’s still no adjustment, so now it seems a bit loose.


Buckles, dear Bucas, buckles!  Please!  But at least it is sitting more centrally now.


The replacement belly guard seems exactly the same as the old one and I can’t see it changing anything.

I’ll see how he gets on with the wider chest piece.  If the rug continues to slip,  I will try it without the belly guard and see how it goes.  It certainly couldn’t slip any worse than before so I’ve got nothing to lose!

If it continues to slip and sit heavy on his withers, my last resort will be to sew a piece of sheepskin inside the rug.  But seriously, for €120, I shouldn’t have to do this sort of crap.

I’ve been a huge Bucas fan for years.  I’ve always considered their stuff expensive but good quality – I have a Bucas cooler which must be twenty years old and is the best cooler I’ve ever seen.  I’ve also had several Bucas stable rugs over the years and loads of my liveries used Bucas turnout rugs.  I love the design of the Zebra fly rug but I am SOOOOOO disappointed that the fit is so poor.

My fingers are very much crossed that it will sit better now, but I have a gut feeling it won’t.  I’ll keep you posted.

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