Horse Blanketing Tips

 

If your horse needs blanketing, there are seemingly endless options for blankets – styles, colors, weights, fittings, closures, the list goes on. Whatever type you decide, enjoy these horse blanketing tips to make your investment last longer.  

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Find the right blanket fit for your horse

 

  • Finding the perfect blanket for your horse is a lot like finding jeans – each style will fit slightly differently. The place to start is with a measurement for size. 

 

  • Using a flexible tape measure, like a weight tape, and an extra set of hands if possible, start your measurement at the center of your horse’s chest, where the neck meets the chest. This approximates where the front buckles are situated.  

 

  • Keeping the tape measure horizontal, move it along your horse’s side. Where you stop the tape indicates where the blanket will stop. It’s a good starting point to stop measuring as the tape curves toward the tail. Stopping before that curve may make the blanket too short, and if you measure to the center of the tail, it will be too long.  

 

  • The blanket size is the distance, in inches, from the chest to the stopping point you choose. Blanket sizes come in even increments of 2 inches, so round up if your horse’s size is odd. 

 

Read this for more information about sizing horse wear

 

horse in grass paddock in rain sheet blanket

 

Other fitting things to consider 

 

  • Gussets are those pleated areas around the shoulder that allow your horse more movement. Turnout sheets typically have gussets, while stable sheets do not.  

 

  • Higher and broader gussets allow more movement. This may not matter much when your horse is out and about, but they need space to stretch their front legs out when getting up.  

 

  • Also, think about belly covers. Additional fabric around the belly can be helpful if your horse is clipped or tends to lay in poop and urine patches.   

 

  • Tail covers are another option to consider. Most turnout sheets and blankets have tail covers; some are detachable. Horses needing help lifting their tails to pass manure and urine benefit from a removable tail cover.  

 

tape to extend blanket connection

Adding duct tape tabs make zipping up your horse much easier when you have gloves on. 

 

Tips about blanket straps

 

  • Belly straps should fit as if Goldilocks were wearing them. Not so tight that laying down is uncomfortable, and not so loose that a hind leg can get stuck. 

 

  • Leg straps instead of a tail cord can help reduce urine and manure from staining tails and the backs of legs. Sometimes, those straps act like a wacky distribution system for urine and manure. Leg straps can help avoid this. 

 

  • Ensure the leg straps are not too long to tickle a horse’s leg, causing annoyance and sometimes kicking. Longer straps can also escape from the leg or get stepped on.  

 

  • Use duct tape around smaller buckles for easy grabbing while wearing gloves. You can also get fancy by color-coding the tape, if there’s a chance blankets can get shuffled between horses. 

 

Clips 

 

  • Clips and snaps should have any openings facing toward your horse. The power of horses to get into mischief is astounding, and hay nets, wire fencing, other horses, and random mystery things can become stuck in those clips if facing out.  

 

blanket snap pointing outward

This is not the way to buckle your horse’s blanket!  That clip should point towards the fabric, not into the wilds. 

 

Tips for layering blankets

 

  • Horse blankets are a significant investment, and your climate may indicate you need a light weight, medium weight, and heavy weight to get through the cold of winter. The fill determines the weight of a blanket. 

 

  • You have a few options. You can spring for all three. You could also layer blankets. Very often, a light weight stacked over a medium weight is just as comfy as a heavy. And, if temps rise during the day, you can slide the sheet off, instead of changing everything.  

 

  • Some fantastic blanket styles have liners, often with fill. These fluffy liners change a medium weight into a heavy weight. 

 

  • You could also use a sheet as an inner layer and boost some warmth at the same time. Using a thinner inner layer helps to keep your heavier blankets cleaner!  

 

Learn more about denier and fill here. 

 

Use neck pieces

 

  • I love neck pieces on horse blankets. These blanket attachments are like transforming a short-sleeved shirt into a long-sleeved shirt. The added warmth stems from less surface losing heat and can turn a medium weight into a heavyweight.  

 

  • Neck pieces are also fantastic at keeping your horse’s mane a smidge cleaner in the winter. And, Separate neck pieces are much easier to wash without needing to find a giant machine for your horse’s laundry. 

 

caked-on-mud-chestnut-horse

While not a true neck piece, this blanket has a higher neck that covers the withers.  It can be especially helpful for shark-finned horses if the blanket gets stuck behind the withers. It also helps keep out some of the mud and dirt.

 

Prevent rubs and hair loss

 

  • Hair loss and rubs come from the friction that blanks cause as they run over your horse’s body. You typically find them around shoulders, hips, and withers. 

 

  • The first thing to address is the blanket fit. First, make adjustments to the straps, especially the chest buckles. If that doesn’t help, you have a few things you could do:

 

  • Try some different styles with different gusset locations. This is sometimes super tricky as returns can be tricky for horse blankets. Hopefully, there’s another horse at the barn whose blankets you can borrow.  

 

  • Use horse undies. Those slick fabric bodysuits are perfect to put under blankets. You can find them where they cover the chest for shoulder rubs. If you need to cover the neck, those models usually have a hood, too. If your horse is going to be out in wet weather, make sure the nylon horse undies will stay dry. 

 

  • Use friction-blocking sticks. These handy, deodorant-style sticks make your horse’s hair slicker, thus allowing blankets to glide over areas. They are less effective than silky horse pajamas, but they could help in a pinch. 

 

leg quilt used as padding for wither area under blanket

Adding old quilts and leg wraps to blankets may improve the fit! 

 

Keep it clean

 

  • Keeping blankets clean can be a big challenge. Much like grooming, doing a little bit daily is much better than a weekend project. Here are some tips for keeping things clean:

 

  • Blanket a clean horse. Whilst not always possible, it helps.

 

  • Use slinky undies or a thin sheet under heavier blankets. This keeps the heavier ones cleaner. Washing a bit of nylon is much easier than a giant blanket. 

 

  • Use a stiff brush to clean off dried mud. For wet mud, you can cry and cuss as you wait for it to dry, or just rinse it off. 

 

  • Sling your horse’s blankets over a fence to get some air. Horse blankets often stink! Maybe the lining needs some air, maybe the outside. Your choice.

 

mane comb cleaning horse blanket velcro

Little mane combs make great tools for removing hair from closures. 

 

 

Waterproofing

 

  • In a perfect universe, all horse items are waterproof forever. That’s not really the case, and you may find that re-waterproofing is the way to go. There are two ways to do this: spray products or wash-in products. Starting with a clean surface helps immensly, too. 

 

  • Now go forth and dress your horse up like the fashionista they are!

 

For a horse blanket shopping guide, read this. 

 

How to measure for a blanket

Stopping blanket rubs 

Blanket shopping guide and horse blanketing tips

 

 

go shopping button for horse products

 

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