Blanketing season is the most confusing and, often frustrating, time of year when it comes to life with horses.
You check the weather app on your phone 20 times a day. You look skyward to see if, for the first time ever, you can tell how cold it will be in six hours, and peer into the distance to see just how far away that rain is. You walk back in the barn, hands-on-hips, determined to select the exact right blanket for the evening, knowing full well that horses have survived for millions of years without them.
All you want is for your horse to be comfortable and to not to sit bolt upright in the middle of the night fearing you picked the wrong blanket, after all. Is that too much to ask?!
Thankfully, there are blankets for every occasion. (Even the ones he doesn’t need a blanket for.) For the purposes of this post, we will concentrate on winter weather coverings.
The first thing you need to think about is whether your horse rocking his natural hair coat or is fully clipped. For that, I’ve found this handy chart to help you decide what Trigger should wear during what temperatures.
But, and there is always a but, here are a few other things to consider based on your horse’s personality. After all, your blanket is only useful if it’s actually on your horse.
Denier & Blanket Shell
A denier rating, or just D for those in the fabric biz, ranges from 200–1680. The higher the D rating the stronger the fabric.
So, if your horse is one of those teenager types that thinks wearing ripped blankets is cool or his pasture mates are mouthy roughnecks that can’t be trusted, then your main concern is the denier rating. On Equishopper.com, you can click on the denier filter and peruse only the blankets with a 900 denier or higher.
You should also consider the blanket shell material as there is the Ripstop shell, which—drumroll please—stops rips, and the Ballistic nylon, which doesn’t stop bullets but does prevent tears (in the blanket). And tears (in your eyes).
Surcingles, Straps & Front Closures.
There is nothing more puzzling than finding your once blanketed horse standing naked, looking happy as Larry, waiting for breakfast. The blanket is either at the far end of the field under some leaves and branches or is in the stall covered in hay, manure and urine. The blanket straps are still done up, and apart from it smelling poignantly of urine, it’s in perfect condition.
Your Equishopper filter choice here should include surcingles, tail strap, front closures and leg straps. I’d go for the highest possible number in the strap department.
The Chilly Types
Fill & Waterproofing
On the opposite end of the disrobers are the cold types. Maybe your horse is older, fully clipped, a hard keeper or a thin-skinned Thoroughbred from California. For these chilly types, blanket fill is your main concern. You can go the layering route and use a stable blanket under an outdoor rug, or you can go with a turnout blanket stuffed to the gunnels with fill.
Making sure the top layer of your horse’s outdoor wear is waterproof will offer protection from the wind and rain.
You may also want to consider a higher necked blanket or a full neck cover and a tail cover, all of which Equishopper has filters for and make your horse look like an adorable four-legged Michelin man.
Other things to consider when deciding on a blanket are:
- If your horse spends most of their time inside or outside. Turnout blankets can swing both ways. A stable blanket, on the other hand, is rendered useless when exposed to any weather conditions other than sunshine and dry ground.
- If your horse is unclipped. For the au naturale horse, it’s a wise idea to keep one or two blankets on hand, in case the temperature plummets or is unusually wet. And also for your peace of mind.
- Just because you’re cold, doesn’t mean your horse is cold. The simplest way to accurately test your horse’s comfort level is to slide your hand under the neck of the blanket past the wither. Assuming your horse has had the rug on long enough to warm it up, you will be able to determine whether they are warm enough.
TLDR: Equishopper has several search filters to help you shop for sheets and rugs. You can pick from your favorite brand, color, blanket fill, denier, shell, leg straps, neck coverage, surcingles, waterproofing, tail strap, size, front closure type and price range—all of which will make buying a blanket a lot easier than deciding which one to put on tonight.