Choosing the Best Blanket for your Horse
Here in the Midwest, the winter season has found its way onto our calendars and across our pastures. Blankets provide extra protection to keep your horse warm, dry, and clean during cold, snowy days.
WHEN TO BLANKETMom Nature has adequately planned to keep horses warm by providing them with thick, comfy winter coats; however, sometimes blanketing can provide a little more comfort to take the edge off the cold. Blanketing is not necessary for every horse and is dependent upon several factors such as climate, body condition, health, age, coat thickness, and shelter. If your horse is a healthy easy keeper, you may not need to blanket but, if your horse is not in the best body condition (skinny) with a thin coat, a blanket would be greatly appreciated.
TYPES OF BLANKETSThere are many different types and weights of blankets that are constructed to provide different levels of comfort for your horse. The thread count in a blanket is measured in “deniers”. The most durable and tear-resistant blankets will have higher denier counts. The insulation of a blanket is called the “fill”, which is measured in grams. A light/medium fill blanket will have between 100-200 grams and a 300 gram fill is the heavyweight blanket.
Stable blankets, which are lightweight and constructed of nylon and a light insulation layer, can be used to keep your stalled horse warm and clean on a cold night; although, you should not turn your horse out in the pasture wearing it since it is not water proof, unless you place a waterproof sheet under it.
The most durable blankets are the turnout blankets. These blankets are constructed to provide optimal warmth and dryness for your pastured horse. Turn-out blankets are breathable, which means they will not let cold air in but will allow sweat to evaporate from under the blanket. Many features in turn-out blankets allow for more freedom of movement with shoulder gussets and wear pads at the withers to prevent rubbing when your horse frolics around the pasture.
BLANKETING TIPSYou must be responsible when you blanket your horse and check his coat under the blanket often to make sure he remains dry. If he gets wet underneath the blanket, he will become chilled. Remove the blanket and rough up his coat with a dry towel and place a fleece cooler on him, which will expedite the drying of his coat.
Keep an eye on the weather and remove the blanket if temperatures rise above 45 degrees. Prior to removing the blanket, wipe a dryer fabric softener sheet over it to prevent static shock to your horse when you take the blanket off. Trust me, he will appreciate you doing this! After removing the blanket, you can use this time as an opportunity to wash the blanket to remove any dirt and gunk that may have accumulated on it. After removing the blanket, lightly groom your horse to brush off any dirt that may found its way under the blanket.
When spring finally arrives and the blanket comes off for the season, inspect it for wear and tear to determine if it can be cleaned and packed away for the next winter season or if it needs to be replaced.
By: Darlene M. Cox (firstname.lastname@example.org)