Gear of the Month — November
With winter weather fast approaching, it is a good idea to think about purchasing your horse’s winter blanket before you both are left out in the cold.
With so many blankets on the market, how do you choose which one to buy? Before you go to the store to purchase your blanket, you need to ask yourself several questions that will help make your shopping experience much easier and less overwhelming. Feel free to use the following questions as your road map to buying the perfect blanket for your horse:
• What size blanket does my horse wear? How do I measure my horse?
• Which type of blanket do I need? Where will my horse be wearing this blanket?
• How cold does it get where I live?
• Develop your horse’s profile by asking the following: Is my horse clipped? What breed is my horse? How old is my horse? What body condition does my horse have? (Example – easy keeper, fat and happy, needs groceries, etc)
• Is my horse destructive? Does he/she get turned out with horses that play hard?
• What features / look do I want my blanket to have?
• What is my budget?
Let’s take a few minutes to break down each of the above questions to help understand why these factors are important when you buy a winter blanket. Keep in mind that these questions are based on the knowledge that you have of your horse and their surroundings and are just a starting point to help you make a well-informed buying decision.
Question 1: What size blanket does my horse wear?
It is very important to purchase a blanket that properly fits your horse. If your blanket is too small
or snug around key parts of your horse’s body, it can cause rubbing and sores when the blanket is worn for prolonged amounts of time. Sores usually occur around the shoulder and withers, but can also be found along the back or anywhere the blanket can be pulled tight. On the other hand, purchasing a blanket that is too large for your horse can be just as harmful as a blanket that is too small. Blankets that are too large will hang lower on the horse’s body and could cause the horse to be tangled up when he or she is getting up from the ground from rolling or sleeping, therefore knowing what size your horse is will be critical in your buying process.
If you have never measured your horse, or it has been a while and they have gained or lost consider- able amounts of weight, it might be a good idea to re-measure. Measuring your horse is extremely easy.
What you will need is a friend, a soft tape measure or a long piece of string. A helpful tip to get the best measurement would be to tie your horse and have him / her stand square (with both front and back feet next to each other). Have your friend hold one end of the tape measure or string at the center of your horse’s chest and take the tape measure or string around the barrel of your horse’s body to end at the center of the tail.
Make sure that the tape or string is lying flat and is pulled taut around your horse’s body. Once you have the tape measure at the center of your horse’s tail, you have your measurement! If you used a string, keep track of your end mark and take the string to a hard tape measure to find your measurement. It’s a good idea to note that many blanket companies size their blankets by increments of 3”, for example – sizes 69”, 72”, 75”, 78” etc.
If your horse measured at 70”, we recommend going up to the closet size, a 72”, because the front closure and leg straps are fully adjustable and can make up the 2” in difference, plus you should factor in a winter weight gain or winter coat. So now you have your blanket measurement!
Question 2: Which type of blanket do I need?
When you are thinking about buying a blanket, ask yourself if you going to put your horse outside in the blanket or will he only have the blanket on in the stable? There are two basic types of winter blankets, stable blankets and turnout blankets. Stable blankets, are not waterproof and should only be worn in the stable, trailering, or anywhere the horse will not get wet. A turnout blanket is waterproof and can be put on the horse when he or she is in the field to protect them from the elements. Many people will only purchase turnouts to save the hassle of changing blankets when they get in the barn and leave their horse’s turnout on in the stall which is completely safe. It is important to remember, however, that the temperature in the barn may be warmer than it is outside, so please be sure to check to make sure your horse won’t overheat.
Question 3: How cold does it get where I live?
When shopping for a winter blanket, you will notice that there are different fill weights that range from no fill / 0 grams for sheets and up to 450 grams for extra heavyweight blankets. To determine which blanket fill you need, consider what is the lowest temperature your horse will be exposed to. The below chart should be helpful in figuring out which type of blanket you will need to purchase. If you live in warmer climate, for example, you may never need a 350-450 gram blanket, however, if you are in a colder climate, you may need a light, medium and heavyweight blanket to be interchangeable as the weather warms up and cools down! Like horses, you can never have too many!
Question 4: What kind of horse do I have?
There are several factors about your horse to consider when you purchase a blanket. If you have ever been around different breeds of horses, you can see that each breed can grow a different coat thickness. For example, some types of draft horses can grow thick wooly coats as opposed to some Thoroughbreds that can’t grow any hair. If your horse doesn’t grow a coat, or you intentionally clip them to make winter riding easier, you should reference the short coat / clipped column in the above reference chart. If your horse is older, is skinny or doesn’t maintain their body condition easily throughout the winter, use your judgment to match the appropriate blanket to your horse. There are great, easy-to-use phone apps found in the apple or android store to help you figure out which weight blanket to put on your horse based on the factors mentioned in this article- the location of the horse, the current and low temperatures in the area, the horse’s age, body composition, clipped vs non-clipped, etc.
Question 5: Is my horse destructive?
Let’s face it, having a horse that plays in the field with his buddies is fun to watch for a few minutes, but you have never felt pure anguish until you watch that same lovable horse grab hold of its blanket and completely shred it to pieces. On every blanket in the store, there is a measurement on the packaging called denier. The denier count reflects how tightly woven and tough the material is. The denier count can generally range from 420 denier to 1200 denier. If your horse is a blanket shredder or a hard player, purchasing a blanket with the highest denier count will save you countless of trips to the store and will be easier to repair if ripped. Blankets such as the Weaver Leather turnouts have ripstop material, which means that if a horse does rip the blanket, the weaving of the material will prevent the rip from getting larger.
Question 6: What features / look do I want my blanket to have?
Now that you have narrowed down what size, type, weight and denier count your blanket needs to be, you can finally research the fun things like cool colors, patterns, reflective stripes for visibility at night, wither padding for comfort and more!
Question 7: What is my budget?
Lastly, having a budget is understandable. With turnout blankets ranging from $50.00 to well over $400.00 it can be hard to determine which ones to buy. The answer to this question is completely up to you, however, just like buying a car; you get what you pay for. It is never a good idea to compromise on quality for the price, which is why Weaver Leather manufactures high quality blankets at an affordable price.
To check out the full range of winter blankets, visit ridethebrand.com.
We love our horses and we want them to stay safe and warm in the winter. Our hope is that you use the information in this article as a guide to help you make a more informed decision when purchasing your next blanket. If you are still unsure or need additional guidance, we recommend that you refer to your local trainer, experienced friend or industry expert for tips. Let’s face it; we are all learning new things every day when it comes to horses and what better way is there than to consult a mentor or expert? Weaver Leather partners with a great team of industry experts from Stacy Westfall, Ken McNabb, Richard Winters & more! Feel free to check out our website for great videos on quality winter blankets.