How are your horses’ blankets – a bit yucky by now? We're still in the thick of Winter, but even when we do start to turn into Spring, blanketing is still necessary, so we’re bringing back our advice on choosing and using the best ones.
So, what blanket is best? It of course it depends on:
1. your geography: is it rainy or snowy or just plain chilly
2. where your horse lives: inside or out rain, snow, or cold
3. is he worked/ridden despite being exposed to the elements
The most important thing is a breathable, well fitting sheet/blanket/turnout that will move with the horse and is tough enough to keep up with the rough-housing that goes on between stable mates!
Just like the human fashion industry, horsewear comes in a multitude of styles, colours and fits – so try some out. Let’s get our lingo down first:
Stable: Means it’s for confined space and doesn’t have enough fasteners, etc. to survive a running, bucking horse
Turnout: generally waterproof/breathable and tough enough for activity
Sheet or Day Sheet: Cotton or Poly light-weight – like wearing a t-shirt -- they can be layered under other sheets of thicker material if needed
Scrim / Cooler / Knit: usually open-weave, moisture-wicking and breathable to allow for optimal dryness for an after schooling cool down or late day bath
Heavy / Blanket: can be waterproof but is more about the grams of fill (warmth: ranging from 100, can be good for California weather and up to 450, for blizzards) and denier count (toughness: 600 is entry and 1200 is recommended for the rougher ones).
Fit imperatives. Whether pulling an old blanket out of storage or shopping for a new one, the fit is critical:
large enough to cover from shoulders to dock
follow the contour of the horse’s back
hang straight down in the back
rest snug around the neck
But be careful:
cut too big/wide: it’ll hang, bunch or fall off to the side when he moves, or
too long/going up a size: it may drape better behind, but shoulders/neck can become too large and therefore drop too low -- causing rub marks*
*try a ‘wug’ neck, a higher cut neckline that doesn’t slip down as easily.
For sizing, see our picture here – European brands often size in cm (and increments of 3”) while US brands go in increments of 2.”
Let’s talk value. Coastal regions and valleys need to be aware that the clips, closures, and snaps on some of the lower-end brands do not hold up well in the high-moisture environment and rust beyond usability. If that’s a problem, it makes more sense to fork out the extra dollar for a higher quality blanket now, instead of having to come back next year to buy another blanket since the hardware is not easily replaced.
Baker is one such quality brand, but with a fit that be titch narrow through the shoulders for big warm bloods. The Baker turnout sheet and blanket though has gussets at the shoulder and can fare better with the big boys. Not really sure why they don’t do it on the stables.
For Spring and Fall weather in particular, it is all about layers. You can try your own, but we like Horseware’s Rambo Duo line that consists of a waterproof sheet (handy) that integrates with a separate liner (available in different fills) to form a winter turnout. Amigo is their value brand with fewer bells and whistles but the same designs for a lower cost.
Care: EQ offers a blanket cleaning and repair service – because you’ll never get the stink out of your washer at home if you try to be a do-it-yourselfer. Top priority for keeping your blanket is insuring every groom, trainer and rider can clearly see some identification; consider embroidering (another service offered here at The Equestrian’s Concierge), attach a tag (even an engraved one) – or at least the old sharpie. The customization of embroidery is the winner: an embroidered name on the blanket can be seen from afar, isn’t hard to find – or lose -- like the obscure tags, and won’t be confused with a barn mate’s.
So, whether you are getting ahead of the game and shopping for a new blanket or assessing the fit and condition of last year’s layers, EQ has you covered (pun intended).