Choosing the Right Blanket for Your Horse!
With cooler weather quickly approaching and talk of a long winter it’s time to begin looking at getting the blankets out or purchasing new ones for your horses! Remember when considering the type of blanket and whether or not to blanket a horse to look at all the factors: shelter available, temperature, wind chill, and chance of precipitation.
When looking to buy a new blanket there are MANY different options to choose from and it can be confusing as well as pricy. Brands offer different features that affect fit, performance, and coverage. This article will focus on blankets for horses to be turned out in. There are three things that you should consider when looking at blankets for your horse: sizing, type and features.
The fit of the blanket is very important for the horse. Blankets and sheets that are too big or too small can cause painful sores on the horse’s withers, rubs on the shoulders and general irritation. Measuring a horse is easy. Use a flexible tape measure (like used in sewing). To measure, in inches, go from the center of the horse’s chest straight back along his/her body to the center of the thigh, just next to the tail. Ponies’ usually measure in the 60’s, average size horses somewhere in the 70’s and larger warmblood or draft breeds in the 80’s. From this number you will select the size of the blanket. It is recommended to look at the size chart of the brand you are going to buy when selecting the size, as each company can run slightly different in sizes.
There are different types of blankets depending on conditions the horse will be facing. The fill, waterproofing and outer shell durability will help you determine which will be best for your horse.
The fill of the blanket refers to the warmth the blanket will provide. There are three common ratings for fill: light weight, medium weight, and heavy weight. The fill is typically made of polyester and is measured in grams. On some blankets it will list grams of fill rather than weight. A light weight would be a stable sheet and it does not contain fill. The medium weight blanket ranges between 180 grams and 200 grams of fill. A heavy weight blanket usually offers between 300 grams and 420 grams of fill.
If you plan to turn your horse out in a sheet or blanket it will need to be waterproof for the elements. Most are coated to repel water and many are Teflon® coated. The fabric repels water but is still breathable enough to allow air and moisture to escape from the sheet/blanket. The standard for waterproof and breathability is 3000mm.
The outer shell durability of a sheet or blanket is generally referred to as denier. Denier refers to the size or coarseness of the fiber of the blanket. The higher the denier the tougher the outer shell. All blankets will vary in the denier and fabric type. An adequate blanket will be about 600 denier, while the middle range is about 800 denier. The toughest blankets will range from about 1200 denier to 1680 denier. Ballistic nylon is the toughest type available. Even though the later tend to cost slightly more, if your horse is known to be rough on blankets or has a pasture mate that likes to grab or play with the blanket you will want to consider these tougher options.
When purchasing a blanket there will be many features that make them different: closures, neck style, gussets, tail flaps, leg straps, and fleece at the withers. All can provide various benefits depending on what you are looking for.
Blankets typically close in the front; there are several types of closures. Clip and dee closures can be adjusted the first time for an optimum fit, then be quickly released or attached without adjustment. Surcingles simply connect 2 straps. The hug chest panel closure overlaps for freedom of movement and greater adjustment.
Different neck styles can provide protection from the elements, by preventing water from entering the blanket and neck area. A high cut neck offers more protection than the regular cut neck. The combo neck has a full neck cover attached to the blanket. Some have an optional neck cover that can be removed.
The gusset is located in the shoulder area and allows for the freedom of movement. It retracts to keep the blanket closed for warmth, but can stretch open when needed. Tail flaps protects your horse from the elements and helps keep the blanket in place.
Leg straps prevent the blanket from shifting and blowing up in the wind and are also useful for hoses that pull their blanket off. Fleece at the withers prevents the blanket from rubbing the horse.
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