The Definitive Cheat Sheet for Horse Blankets

Horses are blanketed for a number of different reasons, the most obvious being to keep them warm and dry. You may also consider a blanket just to keep them clean and cut down on grooming time, to keep them from growing a super thick winter coat, or because your horse is older or sick and can’t regulate their own temperature. These individual reasons will inform your choice of blanket.

There is a dizzying array of blankets and each one of them has unique features that are better suited for specific horses, temperatures, and uses. Here we give you a full rundown of the terminology, what you should look for when choosing a blanket, and how to find the appropriate one to meet the exact needs of you and your horse. From materials, features, sizing, styles, and more, this is your comprehensive guide to blanketing.

horse-blanket

    Features

  • Cuts - There are two main types of blanket cuts, standard and European. The standard cut is designed for the curvy horse with muscular shoulders and hips. European cut blankets have a smaller neck opening and are more suited for slimmer, long-bodied horses.
  • Fronts - Most blankets have open fronts with buckles, snaps, and/or velcro on the chest for easy on/off. Closed fronts go over the horse’s head and use continuous fabric without any closures across the chest. Closed fronts are mostly seen in stable blankets.
  • 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.
  • Gussets - Also known as darts, these are panels sewn into the blanket at the shoulder and stifle to allow maximum movement as well as to ease any rubbing.
  • Belly Band - A wide padded panel that covers the horse’s belly to give added warmth and protection. Mostly seen on stable blankets.
  • 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. This gives added protection and ensures no water rolls down the horse’s back under the blanket.
  • Neck Cover - As it sounds, it covers the horse’s neck, more so than a high neck blanket. They can be detachable from the full blanket or an integrated part of the blanket.
  • Taped Seams - Added waterproofing and strength along the seams from strong fabric tape.

    Materials

  • Nylon - Nylon is as about as tough a material you will find. It repels moisture, oils, and dirt better than other materials like cotton.
  • Cordura - A strong, water-resistant nylon fabric, it is highly resistant to abrasion, mold, mildew, and rot. Ripstop and ballistic are types of Cordura fabric used on a variety of horse-related products.
  • Wool - With its wonderful insulation, wool offers warmth and breathability. It does not handle moisture very well and should be used as a stable blanket, cooler, or liner. Wool blankets can’t be machine washed.
  • Hollofil - A lightweight polyester form of insulation sewn into the blanket. It provides warmth and form consistency as blanket fill.
  • Quilting - Quilted material is commonly found in indoor stable blankets and as an underlayer but isn’t durable enough to withstand prolonged wear outdoors.

    Terms

  • Denier - Often abbreviated to just the letter D, the denier is similar to that of the thread count of bed sheets. Higher denier numbers mean more threads per inch, stronger fabrics, and more waterproof. The lower range you will see featured on horse blankets is 70D, with 2400D on the upper end. Keep this in mind as you shop, thinking about how hard your horse is on blankets, their stall, etc. and how strong the fabric will need to be to take a beating. You’ll want to look at blankets with denier over 1200 for horses who are tough on equipment. There’s nothing more annoying than needing to replace a blanket or have it patched in the dead of winter.
  • Fill - All blankets with anything more than a sheet will have fill, an insulating polyester fiber sewn in to give the blanket its warmth. Fill is measured in grams.
  • Turnout - One of the main types of blankets, turnouts are made for just that. They are waterproof, stronger, and made for the weather. All turnouts are categorized as lightweight, medium weight, or heavyweight. Often abbreviated as T/O.
  • Liner - Like a regular or stable sheet but specifically designed to be worn only under blankets to add warmth to other weights. Much of the time they are used with heavyweight blankets when that isn’t quite enough warmth. See the chart below for when that would be.
  • Sheet - Unlike blankets, a sheet is unlined or has very little fill. "Sheet" can refer to a blanket that is waterproof or not waterproof at all. When not waterproof, it is technically a stable sheet although many refer to them just as a sheet.
  • Stable Blanket - Stable blankets are made for inside the barn, stall, or trailer rather than outside in the elements. They typically are not waterproof and many heavier stable blankets come "quilted," like a quilt for your bed, with horizontal seams shoulder to tail to hold the insulation in place. People often use stable blankets as base layers and use a waterproof sheet over them for turnout.
  • Stable Sheet - Like a stable blanket, stable sheets are not waterproof. They are often made of fleece, wool, cotton, or polyester. They can be layered underneath waterproof blankets or sheets to create the desired warmth.
  • Combo - Usually referring to the combination of a turnout blanket and a neck cover is attached. Some blankets come with D-rings that the neck cover can be removed or added, depending on the weather.
  • Weight - The amount of fill and therefore warmth that a blanket will give your horse. Lightweight is equivalent to a lightweight jacket, while heavyweight is equivalent to a heavy jacket.
  • Lightweight - Any blanket with up to usually about 150 grams of fill. See the chart below about what temperatures and horses lightweight blankets are good for. A lightweight sheet is also sometimes referred to as a rain sheet because it’s great for precipitation in cool temperatures. Use an unlined sheet to keep your horse clean in warmer temperatures.
  • Medium Weight - Any blanket with around over 150 grams and under about 220 grams of fill.
  • Heavyweight - Any blanket with up to about 420 grams of fill.
  • Sleazy - A thin lycra material, sleazys are used to keep show horses clean but can be used as a protective layer for sensitive horses under blankets if and when they get rubs. They come in full-body styles, full neck and face, just the chest, and more to protect your horse’s coat.
  • Quarter Sheet - For horses who have been clipped or have less winter hair due to blanketing, quarter sheets keep him warm while you warm up under saddle and get moving.
  • Cooler - For post-workout cooldown for horses who have and have not been clipped to keep them warm while dry and the sweat is wicked away.

    When choosing a blanket for your horse, you’ll want to consider a few main things:

  • Are you going to clip your horse? If so, full-body or partial?
  • What is the coldest possible temperature in your region?
  • Does your horse need to be out in all weather?
  • Does your horse usually bite, kick, chew, or otherwise break buckets, halters, doors, etc. in the barn or in turnout?

If you are still looking for information on and suggestions for more great winter horse blankets, including how to measure a horse for a blanket, check out our helpful Blanket Finder, Understanding Horse Blankets, and our guide on When to Blanket Your Horse.

Temperature Horse with Natural Coat Horse that is Body Clipped
50° - 60° Sheet - No fill Light Blanket (100g)
40° - 50° Light Blanket (100g) Light/Medium Blanket (150g-250g)
30° - 40° Light/Medium Blanket (150g-250g) Medium/Heavy Blanket (200g-300g)
20° - 30° Medium/Heavy Blanket (200g-300g) Heavy (300-400g) or Medium (200-300g) with Blanket Liner
Below 20° Extra Heavy (300g-400g) Heavy (300-400g) with Blanket Liner
  • Published:
  • Updated: 12/20/2019: 3:07:00 PM ET
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