Every year, hundreds of equestrians all across the globe go to retrieve their horses from turnout, only to find them prancing nude, while their sun/fly/rain sheet lays in tatters throughout the paddock.
Every day, hundreds more innocently throw their horse’s delicates into an ancient, tack room washer and discover too late that an invisible row of serrated teeth has fed upon said items during the spin cycle. It’s no coincidence the industrial rumbling seems to hum the Jaws theme song.
Even if your sheets survive the journey to the dryer, there’s no guarantee they’ll come out in one piece. The dryer at home might steal a sock here and there, but the one at the barn swallows the neck piece whole. Then spits out a wad of tangled polo wraps and elastic leg straps for your afternoon’s pleasure.
Summer sheets are among the most vulnerable garments in your horse’s wardrobe, susceptible to mouthy geldings, to manure, mud and grass stains, and to errant appliances. But this season doesn’t have to be like summers past where you’re six sheets deep in destruction.
Here are a few simple tricks to preserving your horse’s summer wardrobe and your sanity.
Stop the Chewing
When the sheet is meant to protect its own worst enemy, things can get a little complicated. A blanket bib is designed exclusively for the bored horse who entertains himself in turnout by destroying all of his expensive clothes. Like this one from United Vet Equine ($13.95), which allows the horse to eat, but not to eat his sheets.
Another option worth testing: No Chew Spray. There are several different brands available; a good spritz helps ensure buckles won’t taste so great.
Fly spray is your friend
It might seem like overkill when the horse lunges at a particularly annoying fly with gaping jaws and pinned ears, catching at their sheet in the process. But then, most of us aren’t natural fly magnets. Spraying your sheets with a layer of fly spray before your horse goes outside may be the added deterrent needed for especially persistent insects. Fewer fly fits mean fewer torn sheets.
Wash with care
Pro tip: slipping socks over the buckles of your summer sheet will protect the washing machine from metal damage and the sheet from getting caught on itself. Wash the sheet with just one or two other articles to ensure the machine won’t get overloaded. And remember, the gentle cycle is your friend.
An alternative option, for a washer/dryer that’s notoriously rough on horse clothes, is to soak your horse’s sheet in a bucket with detergent and give it a hand wash, then hang dry on a fence. Or, like working amateurs the world over, you can put the sheet in a soapy bucket, promptly forget about it for a few days, then take your chances with the washer anyway. Because really, who’s got time for hand washing?
Replace missing parts
Slipping sheets are ripe-for-ripping sheets. If—or more accurately when—your horse loses a snap or surcingle in the field, send for replacement parts before the sheet slips and gets stepped on. Centaur offers Exceler Stainless Steel Replacement Snaps ($8.95 a pair) and Adjustable Quick Snap Surcingles ($21.95). It’s cheaper to replace a part than the entire sheet, after all.
Shop summer sheets on Equishopper.com!