Horse blankets such as turnout blankets are very controversial to those outside the show ring. Ranch horses are typically pastured all year around, these horses do not typically need a horse blanket. Horses that have a good weight, a good hair coat and access to hay should not need a horse blanket unless the weather is extreme. We use our horse blankets only when we trailer horses in the open stock trailer in cold weather.
Does Your Horse Need A Horse Blanket?
Horse blankets or turnout blankets are only recommended for horses (outside the show arena) that are sick, underweight, very young, very old or horses that have been in a warm climate and are suddenly introduced to a cold climate. Horse blankets come in light, medium and heavy weights. It is more economical to get a medium weight blanket with a couple of different liners or a sheet and layer as the temperature goes up and down, rather than purchase several different weight blankets.
If you are showing or body clipping your horses, then horse blankets are an essential part of the horses life in colder weather. Keep in mind that if the horse is wearing a blanket most of the year that the hair grown under the blanket will be not as heavy as the hair that the blanket does not cover. Also, keep in mind that a healthy horse with a great coat of hair will made colder by mashing his
naturally fuzzy hair down with an unnecessary horse blanket.
Once you have established a need for a horse blanket, how do you know when to use a horse blanket for your horse? For unclipped horses it is suggested that a temperature in the 20-30 degree range, a mid weight blanket and possibly a liner should be used. Teens to single digit temperatures, a heavy blanket or a mid weight blanket with a good liner can be used. A body clipped horse should be one step ahead in blanket heaviness in the recommendations for an unclipped horse. Make sure to check often for rubbing or sore spots. Have an alternate plan in case your horse blanket needs washing during inclement weather.
Choosing And Fitting A Horse Blanket
When choosing a horse blanket, you get what you pay for. Buy a good quality horse blanket. The horse blanket should have a rip stop outer cover that is waterproof and windproof, but breathable. Make sure there are not any seams running down the top line of the blanket to minimize leaks. Shoulder gussets with nylon lining at
the shoulders will prevent shoulder rubbing and bald spots. High neck blankets will provide more warmth against the wind.
Horse blankets can come fully or partially lined. A liner should be purchased separate for more layering options. A tail guard is a good idea to keep the wind and rain from blowing directly underneath the blanket. Choose a horse blanket that is easy for you to put on your horse.
Some horse blankets come sewn across the chest and slip over the horses head, others come with buckles in the front instead. Be sure that the leg straps or surcingles fit properly to prevent rubbing and sores. Keep in mind that your horse needs to be able to move while wearing the blanket.
The horse blanket should fit properly or it will rub sores and make bald spots. Too heavy a horse blanket can overheat a horse. A good mid weight blanket with a couple of liners and a sheet can get you through most weather.
Your horse blanket should be waterproof, windproof but breathable. Breathable fabric is important to keep the sweat down to a minimum and to keep from causing health issues. A sweaty horse is also going to be a cold horse.
Horse Blanket Care
Horse blanket care: wash your horse blanket in a front load washer with a detergent free blanket wash. If you have stubborn spots, use a soft bristle brush and some mild detergent before washing your horse blanket. Do NOT put your horse blanket in the dryer. Drying your horse blanket in the dryer will damage or ruin the waterproofing. Air dry your blanket in a cool, dark, dry place.
After washing, use waterproof blanket tape or adhesive to fix any tears to the blanket. You do not want to sew the blanket yourself. The waterproofing will not work in the spots that you have sewn. Storing the horse blanket is easy, fold, seal and store in a rodent proof container for the next season.
How To Measure Your Horse For A Horse Blanket
Measuring your horse for a horse blanket. Use a cloth tape. Measure from the middle of the chest, around the shoulder along the side of the horse all the way back around the hip to the tail. If you want your blanket to fit over a saddle in a trailer, you should allow extra room.