A Comprehensive Guide to Buying the Right Horse Blanket
How do you know which is the right horse blanket for your horse?
The weather starting to cool down so our thought turn to how we can keep our horses comfortable during cold, inclement weather. You want to be sure he is warm and dry but with the multitude of blankets available to choose from, and the expense incurred when buying one, you need to be sure you get the right one for your horse.
Here is a guide to help you decide which is the right horse blanket for you.
What kind of blanket should I buy?
There are literally hundreds of different styles and types of blanket available, and they can be very expensive, so you should first ask yourself does my horse need a blanket at all.
Most horses can survive, year round, outside, even in extreme climates providing they have adequate body hair and a place to shelter from the wind. In higher elevations or very exposed pastures, even an unclipped horse could benefit from some extra protection in the form of a blanket. A horse who has been clipped (hair removed from its body) MUST wear a blanket while it is turned out during inclement weather but also while stabled. Horses are better at generating body heat while in the pasture as they have the option to move around more. A stabled horse is far more likely to feel the cold.
Once you have decided your horse needs a blanket then you have to make sure you get the right one.
There are basically two different types of horse blanket:
Stable blankets are used, as the name would suggest, while the horse is in the stable. They are NOT waterproof and should not be used outside. They are generally made of a quilt type material and fitted to the body. Hoods, usually sold separately, can also be used for more complete coverage of horses with a full body clip.
Turnout blankets are waterproof and come in two different types: standard or combo. A standard turnout blanket covers from the withers to the tail whereas a combo also has a detachable hood to cover from just behind the ears down to the withers.
What size blanket do I need?
In order to know what size of blanket to buy you need to measure your horse. If possible get someone to help you with this.
- Stand your horse, squarely, on a level surface
- With a flexible tape measure, measure from the center of the horse's chest (over the highpoint of the shoulder) to the rear of the hind leg (level with the point of the buttocks).
- If the size you measure is not available from the manufacturer, round up to the next size
Will it keep my horse warm enough?
Blankets are generally filled with either Polyfill or Fiberfill and measured in grams. The amount of filling will determine how warm the blanket will be. Knowing how much fill your blanket will need is decided by the following factors:
- The environment in which your horse will live. Take into consideration not only the weather but also his accessibility to shelter.
- The condition and length of your horse's coat, and whether or not he is clipped
Below is a chart to help you decide how much fill your blanket will need:
|Sheet - no fill||Provides protection from wind and rain|
|100 gram fill||Light warmth|
|150 gram fill||Light to medium warmth|
|200 gram fill||Medium warmth|
|250 gram fill||Medium to heavy warmth|
|300 gram fill||Heavy warmth|
|400 gram fill||Very heavy warmth|
Can my horse wear the same blanket all winter?
It would be very convenient for all concerned if your horse could wear the same blanket all winter long, and some do. However, some days are warmer than others, even in winter (especially if you live in the lower states). Therefore it is a good idea to have at least two stable blankets and two turnout blankets.
Below is a chart to help you decide when to use which blanket:
|Temperature||Horse with a Full Coat||Horse with a Body Clip|
|50 - 60° F||Sheet||Light blanket (100g)|
|40 - 50° F||Light blanket (100g)||Light to medium blanket (150-250g)|
|30 - 40° F||Light to medium blanket (150g-250g)||Medium to heavy blanket (200g-300g)|
|20 - 30° F||Medium to heavy blanket (200-300 g)||Heavy (300-400g) or medium (200-300g) with blanket liner|
|Below 20° F||Heavy (300-400g)||Heavy (300-400g) with blanket liner|
Will the blanket be strong enough not to rip?
Some horses can wear the same blanket season after season and some are so destructive they only have to walk out of the stall and the blanket is in pieces. No matter how much care you take to remove loose boards and projecting nails, accidents will happen. One thing to consider is the strength of the outer material, also known as 'denier'. The thicker the material the stronger it will be.
The following chart will give you an idea of how resilient your blanket will be:
|210||Very light strength|
|1680||Extra heavy strength|
|2100||Super heavy strength|
Now you know which kind of blanket you need, how warm and strong it needs to be all that is left is to decide what color to buy. Nowadays that's a whole other subject. Just remember, your horse doesn't care what color or design the blanket is but he will be more content if he is comfortable and warm (not too hot) during the winter. Happy shopping!