The first thing to think about is what kind of blanket your horse will need. Will he need only a sheet, which will keep out the wind and rain but not protect him in colder temperatures(below 50 F or 10 C), or will he need a midweight blanket, which will protect a clipped horse in the 30s and 40s F(-1 to 10 C)? If you live in a climate that gets down to the 20s(-6.6 to -1 C), your clipped horse will need a heavyweight, if below that, he may need a fleece liner underneath his heavyweight blanket. In the 50s and above, unclipped horses generally do not need a blanket, other than a sheet if it is windy and rainy. They may need a lightweight in 30s and 40s, a midweight in the 20s and 30s, and a midweight with a liner below 20 F.
|I decided to make a diagram about blankets.|
If you plan on keeping your horse in the pasture or outdoors all winter, you will need turnout blanket, which is more durable than a stable blanket, used only indoors. Another variation of the stable blanket is a stable sheet. This doesn't give the horse warmth, but can be used before a show to keep him clean.
Many blankets come with extra parts to give the horse even more warmth. These may include neck covers, which as the name states, covers the horse's neck. Others come with hoods, a neck over that also comes over the face, or even high necks, much like high collars. In some blankets, neck covers and hoods are removable.
Type of Fabric
There are also other things to remember before you go and buy your blanket. For example, some blankets are breathable, meaning they allow body heat to escape, preventing your horse from overheating. Others are ballistic. These are tough and hard to tear, perfect for the horse that often breaks his blanket. A moisture-wicking blanket draws away moisture and sweat, while a water-proof one protects against rain. If you think your horse might tear the blanket, get a ripstop one, a design that prevents rips from spreading. Finally, polypropylene is a strong, lightweight blanket that is fairly water-resistant.
Parts of Blanket
Another good thing to know is the different parts of a blanket. The surcingle is the main strap, wrapping underneath the belly. Other straps include leg straps, elastic straps that wrap around your horse's hind legs, holding the blanket in place, and tail cords, which wrap underneath the tail.
Most blankets feature shoulder gussets, pleated triangular shapes that allow the horse to move his front legs more freely. They also feature tail flaps. These flaps cover the tail and stop cold air from blowing underneath the blanket. For extra protection, some manufacturers cover their seams.
Insulation and Density
There are two words that are commonly used to describe the blanket's insulation and density: fill weight and denier. Fill weight represents how much polyfill is in the blanket and is measured in grams. The more polyfill, the warmer the blanket. Denier is another important word to remember. It is the ratio between the weight of the blanket and the density of the strings used to weave each thread. The higher the denier, the stronger the fabric.
There is so much to keep in mind when buying blankets, but doing so can ensure that both you and your horse are happy during the winter.