Blanketing In the Winter
Blanketing your horse in the winter can be tricky and a bit overwhelming with all of the options out there. With so many options and things to consider, we’ve created a quick guide to help you choose the right blanket for your horse.
- Do you clip your horse? Many active winter riders will do a full or partial body clip to help reduce sweating and potential chill while exercising. If your horse is clipped, you will want to provide some type of blanket to make up for the lack of hair as an insulator. Fully clipped horses will likely need a heavier blanket.
- Does your horse live inside or outside? Some horses live outside year round, have heavy winter coats, and often do not need a blanket. However, younger and senior horses may require the additional warmth provided by a blanket. Make sure to purchase a waterproof, turnout blanket while your horse is outside. If your horse is in the barn most of the time, you can use a slightly lighter blanket and it does not need to be waterproof.
- Does your horse get turned out alone or in a group? This is more of a question on durability. If your horse is turned out in a group, their blanket is more likely to be damaged. Choose a heavy duty exterior material or denier to help prevent rips. You might also consider keeping a spare blanket on hand in case major damage is done.
Once you have figured out the answers to these questions, you can dive into blanket research!
There are three basic types of blankets: Sheets, Stable Blankets and Turnout Blankets. The type of blanket or blankets you will need will depend on your answers to the questions above as well as where you live and what your weather conditions are.
Horse Sheets/Rugs - sheets provide lightweight coverage for your horse. They work well in the barn when you need some coverage but a stable blanket is too warm. Sheets are generally unlined and are not waterproof.
Stable Blankets - these are a good choice for horses in the barn that need just a bit more warmth. Stable blankets are not waterproof and not recommended for turnout, but they are often lined for extra insulation.
Turnout Blanket - waterproof, durable and lined, these blankets are made to be outside. Turnout blankets generally come in three different weights — light, medium, and heavy. These weights determine how much insulation is used in the blanket and how warm it will be. The exterior material for these blankets is referred to as denier. The higher the denier number, the more durable the blanket will be.
Before purchasing a blanket or blankets, make sure to measure your horse, twice! There are some great resources for accurately measuring your horse for a winter blanket, but here are the basic steps.
Take a flexible measuring tape and start at the mid point of your horse’s chest, take the tape down the side and stop at mid-tail. This should be the current blanket size.
You can also look to see if the brand you are looking at has a brand specific guide. Some blankets have slight differences in design and require different measurements.
We do suggest measuring several times to ensure an accurate fit. Poorly fitted blankets can cause painful rubbing as your horse moves around.