Whether you're a new rider or a seasoned stable authority, one thing is for certain: proper horse care comes with a lengthy list of must have items.
Horse blankets and sheets are definitely high on that list and with good reason. They offer your horse protection and comfort in various climates
and weather conditions.
Though it's clear you need a horse blanket, the type you need and the various characteristics that dictate your choice can often be complex.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your purchase.
Understanding the Different Horse Blankets Available
Identifying the blanket that will best suit the needs of your horse is the best way to start your quest.
Though all blankets work to cover your horse in one way or another, their differences and overall purpose are significant.
Though there are other horse blankets available, here are the four frequently used blanket types you can choose from:
Aptly named, stable blankets are most frequently used to cover your horse while he or she is inside the stable, barn or stall.
Available in a wide range of weights (we will get to things like weights and fill in a minute), stable blankets are used to keep
horses warm when they are not turned out.
Since these fitted blankets are designed for indoor use, most are not water-proof, although you may find that some are composed
of moisture resistant or water repellent materials. However, stable blankets are not typically recommended for wear outside the stable.
In addition to stable blankets, you can also purchase stable sheets. These are lighter in weight and typically can be used to
keep horses clean and dirt free while in the stable or before a show.
Turnout blankets and sheets are typically made with tough, waterproof materials that offer protection from the elements (rain, mud, snow, sleet)
and remain durable during rough and vigorous activities. Turnout blankets are also available in a wide range of weights, a characteristic
that must be considered prior to purchase.
Unlike the more fitted stable blanket, turnout blankets are designed to allow for the freedom of motion often necessary during turnouts.
Additionally, they may come equipped with things like gussets, tail flaps, leg straps and fleece withers, all of which improve the overall
fit and functionality of this active use blanket.
Much like the name would suggest, fly sheets are designed to keep flies, gnats, mosquitoes, and other types of pests off your horse.
Typically used in warmer months, fly sheets are light weight and may also offer UV protection to help shield your horse from the sun.
Selecting the Proper Weight and Denier
The weight and denier of a blanket is important, particularly during cooler months when turnout blankets and stable blankets become imperative
to the health and comfort of the horse.
The fill, which can be either Polyfill or Fiberfill, is responsible for the level of warmth a blanket provides.
The higher the weight of the blanket (measured in grams), the warmer it will be.
When determining the best weight, you will need to consider the following:
- The temperature of your horse’s environment during use (fall, winter, spring, etc)
- Your horse’s coat (condition of coat, light/heavy, body clipped, etc)
The tables below will help you determine the best blanket for your horse:
Denier simply refers to the thickness of the fibers or threads that make up the outer shell of a horse blanket.
Horse blankets usually range from 210 denier to 2100 denier. If you know that your horse is rough on blankets
or is turned out with another horses that may like to play, grab or chew on blankets, its best consider one a tougher blanket (1200 denier or above).
Selecting the Right Size
For a horse blanket of any kind to work properly, it must fit your horse correctly. For that reason, it’s imperative
that you measure your horse using a flexible tape measure. Accurate measurements can be obtained by measuring from your
horse’s chest (high point of the shoulder) to the rear of the hind legs.
For the best results, measure your horse on flat ground and to keep the tape straight as you measure from chest to hind legs.
Blankets should never be too tight or too lose on any part of your horse. Additionally, a blanket should never be too long or to short,
as both of these extremes can cause your horse harm.
To avoid ill-fitting blankets, be sure to check the following:
Leg Straps: Leg straps that are too snug can rub and agitate your horse’s skin. Conversely, leg straps that are too lose can easily get caught on something and become a hazard for your horse.
Surcingle Straps: This strap fastens around the belly of your horse. When fastened, you should be able to slide your hand easily between your horse’s belly and the strap. Much like the leg straps, a surcingle strap that is too tight will cause skin agitation, while a strap that is too lose can get caught on something (including your horse’s leg).
Neck Opening: A properly fitting blanket will completely cover your horse’s chest while allowing for free neck movement. A small neck opening can not only agitate your horse’s skin, but can also restrict movement. A neck opening that is too large will result in a loose fit that can expose your horse to harsh elements like rain and snow.