About Canvas

Canvas can be made out of a variety of fabrics which is why not all canvas performs equally. 100% cotton can be nice and cool with good breathability, but lack strength. 100% polyester, while being very strong would be exceptionally hot due to its lack of breathability. Generally in New Zealand, the quality horse cover fabrics are approximately half and half, providing a good mix of strength and breathability.

Canvas, after the weaving process, is immersed in a waterproofing agent and dye (proofed). This is absorbed into the raw fabric adding weight to it (e.g. 18oz proofed to 21oz).

Canvas is available in a range of weights to suit different needs. As a general guide the heavier the canvas, the more waterproof it will be - and for longer. Also the heavier the canvas the warmer it will be.

Canvas directly against the horses coat is not unlike touching a tent in rain. Where you touched it the water will come through. To keep the horse dry we need to add a lining to act as a barrier to stop pressure points on the outer canvas from underneath. The thicker the lining the more waterproof the canvas will be.

Do not put your hand under a canvas cover to see if it is wet or it will also let the water through. Put your hand under the lining to make sure your horse is not wet.

Over long periods of heavy rain canvas will get to a point where it can not absorb any more moisture, and the moisture can then seep through. It is recommended that horses in high rainfall areas have more than one cover to enable drying out of a waterlogged one.

Cover linings can also pick up water from other sources: Covers that are too deep (generally  knee level or lower) can pick up water from your horse flicking it up as they walk, or from long grass. A horse with no neck cover or a cover neckline that is not snug may end up with a wet lining where the water seeps under the edge. Generally a wool lining is not too much of an issue, but a cotton or jute lining only has to get a small portion wet and the dry part will continue to wick the moisture in resulting in major leakage. Linings can also absorb moisture from rain if the horse turns its behind to the wind in an exposed situation. Tail guards can help alleviate this problem.

Generally the most suitable, most waterproof option for a winter cover is our Regentex18oz canvas with a needle punch or pure wool lining.

Regentex 15oz canvas with cotton or jute lining is god for autumn/spring in low rainfall areas, while a wool lining may be better in the Regentex15 in  heavier rainfall areas (and may also be fine for winter in those areas with low/medium rainfall). 

During summer our Brumby canvas covers are the most suitable for those hot days and warm nights when you need a robust but lighter weight cooler cover.  These are ideal with a cotton lining and will keep out the odd very light showers of rain if you get caught out and they do dry reasonably quickly if they get wet.

Our Breeze covers are very good light weight covers during the day to help protect your horse from the sun and insects and are also great for putting on after washing for a show etc.  They are not waterproof but dry very quickly and you can throw them in the washing machine when they get dirty. 

Canvas and Cover Care (download cover care document)

A new cover may initially leak slightly at the seams, so it is a good idea to give it a good soaking with water from a garden hose (or even leave to soak upside down in a water trough or use a waterblaster if available) before use as this will allow the stitching and fibres to swell. Ensure that it is fully dry again before using on the horse. It may take several attempts of this routine to fully seal all of the seams, but after it has weathered a while, it should be completely waterproof.


Ensure that canvas covers are completely dry before packing into storage bags or hanging on racks. Then keep them together in a dry,  well-ventilated and rodent free area. Do not leave them laying on concrete surfaces.


Check your cover frequently for any rips and tears and have them repaired sooner rather than later! The ripstop in the canvas will keep tears to a minimum where possible.

The worst culprit for rips is barbed wire, and it is often better to run an outrigger along your fence to keep your horses away from the barbs than to keep having to pay for continual cover repairs.

A brush with a good stiff brush to remove hair on the inside blanket and a hose off and soft brush to remove built up mud and dirt on the outside at the end of the season will help maintain your cover.

Mould and Mildew

Damp canvas is prone to mould and mildew, so canvas covers should be dried thoroughly before storing.


Canvas is waterproof because the fibres swell when wet, however over time it will dry out, and reproofing has the effect of swelling the fibres again, while also adding a water repellent. .

Reproofing Procedure:

If you have a cover that needs reproofing, first ensure that it is thoroughly clean, light scrubbing with a soft brush and lots of water or a waterblasting it will remove dirt and debris.

DO NOT use any soap or detergent.

If you need to remove or kill mould/mildew growth then spraying with a mix of one part bleach to three parts water is fine (check an inconspicuous part of the canvas for colour fastness prior). Do not leave the mixture sitting on the canvas for more than ten minutes. Then rinse throroughly with clean water.

Allow the material to completely dry.

On a dry day, in a well ventilated area, (e.g. outside) lay your cover out as flat as possible on a clean surface e.g. concrete floor or over a gate or table. Then either paint or roller the proofing onto the canvas, paying particular attention to the seams and leave to dry completely before use or storage.

We recommend reproofing both the inside and outside of the canvas.

This is also a good time to oil the leather strapping on the cover.

To Summarise:

Our rugs are proofed for the highest level of protection against water, rot and mildew.  To maintain peak condition takes some simple care:

*Before use, wet the rug thoroughly with clean water, particularly along the seams and allow to dry completely before use to maximise waterproofing performance.

It may take a few repeat of the above process before the cover is waterproof, particularly with thinner linings such as cotton or jute.

*Clean regularly with water and soft brush. DO NOT USE SOAP OR DETERGENTS

*Store thoroughly dry in a well ventilated, rodent free area.  If storing for long periods, open up periodically.

*Ater extended use, reproof with a good quality canvas waterproofing treatment.