If you have ever spent any time around horses, you then have undoubtedly noticed the amount of different the types of equipment and supplies there are for owning and caring for horses. Stables are full of saddles, bridles, and brushes; let’s not forget about the various feeds either. So as you can see, caring for a horse can quickly become puzzling. This is especially true for horse blankets. Each has its own unique features and a variety of different materials.
In order to help minimize some of the confusion, we put together a little cheat sheet of blanket features, materials and terms associated with horse blankets.
· Cuts – Blanket cuts come in two styles: standard and European. The standard cut is designed for curvy, muscular shoulders and hips. European cut blankets have a smaller neck opening and are more suited for slimmer, long-bodied horses.
· Fronts – There are two common fronts. Open fronts have buckles on the chest while closed fronts use a continuous fabric without any adjustable closures.
· Drop – The measurement of how far the blanket hangs below the horse’s belly is known as the drop. If you are looking for extra-coverage of the horse’s forearms and hind-quarters, go with an extra-long drop.
· Shoulder Darts – These are sewn into the blanket to provide extra shoulder movement as well as to ease the rubbing of the shoulder.
· Shaped Withers – The shaped withers of a horse blanket through fabric shaping or a cut-back area provide pressure relief of withers.
· Belly Band – It’s pretty much as it sounds. The belly band is a wide piece of fabric that allows for closure.
· Nylon – Nylon is as about as tough a material you will find. It’s used in multiple blanket styles and functions. Nylon also isn’t absorbent so it is better for a horse’s coat than cotton because it distributes the animal’s natural oils rather than absorb them.
· Wool – Wool with its wonderful insulation offers great protection in cooler temperatures. However, it doesn’t handle wet weather very well and wool blankets can’t be machine washed.
· Satin – Most cooling blankets are made from this light material.
· Quilting – Quilted material is commonly found in indoor stable blankets and underlayer but isn’t durable enough to withstand prolonged wear outdoors.
· Denier – The denier is actually a unit of measurement. It’s similar to that of the thread count of bed sheets. Higher denier numbers mean better blankets and stronger fabrics. They range from 70 to 2400.
· Cordura – Highly resistant to abrasion, fungi, mold, mildew and rot, cordura is a popular synthetic nylon used in blanket construction. Cordura is also water-resistant.
· High Neck – When the blanket extends up the neck of the horse, passed the withers, but stops before it reaches the top of the neck.
· Hollofil – Hollofil is a form of insulation sewn into the blanket. It provides warmth and form consistency in turnout blankets for example.
· Rip-stop Nylon – Rip-stop nylon is woven into blankets to provide excellent wind and water protection. The way it’s sewn makes it very durable against ripping and tearing.
You probably won’t need or use every single one of the terms on this cheat sheet but you never know when you may run across a question about shoulder darts or hollofil. If and when you do, you’ll be fully prepared to select a great fitting and fully functional blanket.
*I’d like to thank Horse & Rider for some of the great information provided in this cheat sheet.