Do Make Sure Last Year’s Blankets are Cleaned and Repaired
Now that winter is slowly and inevitably on the way, it’s time to open up those storage containers and take inventory of blankets, weights, sizes and if they’re actually clean or not (whoops!) If you have more than one horse, you know how short of a spreadsheet, it’s tough to remember which ones needed repair, or stopped fitting your youngster last season, was missing a surcingle strap, etc. It’s better to start this search and rescue mission for usable blankets now while the weather is still relatively mild so repairs and cleaning can be done as required. It also gives you a chance to take advantage of pre-winter blanket sales (such as Horze.com until September 30th, Bahr Saddlery September 28th-30th).
If you have a new horse or are new to blanketing, here are some tips:
- Blanketing is not an exact science. Horses have varying coat types, personal comfort in certain temperatures, body shapes, etc. It can require a few trips of purchasing/returning to make sure you get the right blankets for your horse. Experiment! (Tip: many retailers advise using your own thin, clean, personal sheet on your horse and trying new blankets on top of that. This makes sure the new blanket stays clean and there are no issues if you need to return it.)
- Blanket retailers do not share an exact size measurement. A 78″ size in a Weatherbeeta is not the same as a 78″ in a Curvon Baker sheet. The best way to decide what brands fit your horse best is by taking note of their physical nuances (broad shoulders, high withers, etc.) and then talking to the companies on their Facebook pages or customer service departments to ask what body shapes their blankets fit best.
- There are tons of “How to’s” on blanket sizing. Try Dress Your Horse.com or Beval Saddlery to help find a starting point of what sizes would fit. Keep in mind there are no rules, just guidelines. Beval Saddlery also notes that American and European blankets fit differently.
Don’t Do These While Buying a Blanket!
- Don’t just buy a just blanket because they are on sale. Many companies sell economy-level blankets, which are not water-resistant, can easily tear, have weak or faulty stitching or poor shape which could cause rubbing or irritation for your horse.
- Don’t stay with a brand that only you prefer. Make sure that brand also fits your current horse in their current physical state (growth or muscling can affect blanket fit)
- Don’t buy a turnout blanket without hind leg straps. The blanket can easily rotate, bunch or cause injury to your horse while he or she romps in the field. (Tip: getting hind leg D-rings sewn onto a blanket is only about $20-$30 by your local blanket cleaning and repair company.)
- Don’t allow surcingle straps to be too long (a hand’s width under the belly is sufficient) and when fastening leg straps, instead of attaching the strap to diagonal D-rings, loop them between the legs and fasten the hind clasp onto the same side.