Horse Blankets – A Complete and Helpful Guide

Do you want to keep your horse warm during windy and cold seasons without making him sweat? If so, investing in a horse blanket is a wise choice. But what exactly is a horse blanket, and what advantages does it offer your horse?

Owning a horse involves a variety of expenses, one of which is the cost of horse blankets. I learned that horse blankets are essential for keeping horses warm, dry, and comfortable, especially during colder months. My horse has a light turnout blanket for mild weather and a heavier one for winter. It’s crucial to ensure the blanket fits well to avoid rubbing or chafing. The initial investment in these blankets is just part of the cost; they also require regular cleaning to prevent skin infections, adding to ongoing maintenance expenses, making her more comfortable and healthy year-round.

In many regions, laws mandate the use of horse blankets during specific weather conditions to ensure the well-being of equine animals. For instance, in several states across the United States, regulations stipulate that horses must be provided with appropriate blankets when temperatures drop below a certain threshold, typically around freezing or below. These laws are rooted in statistical data that demonstrate the vulnerability of horses to cold weather, especially when exposed to prolonged periods of low temperatures and precipitation. Statistics indicate that properly fitted blankets can help regulate body temperature, prevent hypothermia, and reduce horses’ risk of illness or injury.

This article will discuss the purpose and types of horse blankets. Since purchasing a horse blanket requires a bit of an investment, we’ll also share helpful tips on choosing the right coverings for your horse and a set of cleaning and storing measures to make it last longer. But first, let us consider the usage and types of blankets and sheets for horses.  

Horse Blankets and Sheets and Their Types

Thanks to the filling or stuffing underneath, a horse blanket is designed to keep your horse warm and protected from wind, snow, and other elements. On the other hand, a sheet has no fill and is lightweight, so it does not provide warmth as blankets do. But they both have two varieties, which are turnout and stable.

Turnout sheets and blankets are impermeable to water, so they’re perfect for the outdoors, while stable sheets and blankets are not waterproof, so they are just for indoors. 

The amount of warm a blanket can be measured through grams of fill or “stuffing.” Here’s a rough breakdown that can guide you in finding the right cover for your horse:

  • 0-100 grams of fill – Sheets, also called Lightweight blankets
  • 150-250 grams of fill – Medium-weight blankets
  • 300+ grams of fill-heavyweight blankets

Sounds confusing? Here’s a rundown of all the types of sheets and blankets to help you recognize each of them and decide on what to buy among many options.

Horse Barn Animal Sport Paddock Equestrian Ranch Racing Stable
Horse Barn Animal Sport Paddock Equestrian Ranch Racing Stable

Stable Blanket

This blanket keeps your horse warm during cold seasons while they are in a stall. It is not waterproof but can provide additional insulation underneath turnout sheets.

Turnout Blanket

This waterproof blanket comes with a fill-in-the-inner layer that provides warmth that may come with a hood. 

Stable Sheet

This lightweight sheet is not waterproof but has a snug-fitting layer designed to make your horse comfy and clean while staying in the stall. You can also put it underneath turnout sheets to add a layer of insulation. 

Turnout Sheet

It’s a lightweight, waterproof sheet that protects your horse against environmental elements such as wind, snow, and hail while in the pasture. 

Anti-Sweat Sheet

Its primary purpose is to keep your horse clean while cooling off after a hard workout or a bath, but it can also add a layer of warmth if placed underneath turnout or stable blankets. 

Quarter Sheet

This sheet is perfect when warming up during chilly mornings since it can cover your horse’s hindquarters. 

Fly Sheet

It is used during summertime to protect your horse from the bites of insects and add a layer of warmth by putting it underneath other sheets. 

Rain Sheet

It is a waterproof sheet that protects the horse from rain and perfectly fits the riding back.

Cooler

If your horse is sweating after a hard workout in winter or thoroughly wet after a bath, this cooler can help it dry faster like an anti-sweat sheet while keeping them from getting cold. 

Parts of a Blanket

Horse blankets comprise three layers: the lining, fill, and shell. The lining made from either cotton, polycotton, nylon, or mesh helps to reduce friction while the fill or stuffing inside provides warmth. And the outermost layer is the shell that protects your horse from other elements like rain or water (if it is waterproof). These are the other vital components of a horse blanket:

1. Surcingle – This belly strap secures the sheet or blanket. 

2. Shoulder Gussets – A piece of fabric is sewn at the shoulder to help the horse move freely. 

3. Tail Flap/ Cover – An added swatch of cloth that covers the tail down to the tailbone to seal cold winds.

4. Leg straps are designed to crisscross between the horse’s back legs to stabilise the blankets. 

5. Hoods and neck cover – These are separate pieces attached to the turnout or stable blanket for added coverage of warmth and protection. 

6. Front closures – There are different types of front closure, and here are the most common ones:

Buckle front – It’s a regular metal belt buckle with nylon straps that offer adjustability.

Surcingle – This interlocking metal piece in front closures, also known as “T-lock,” keeps the blanket closed.

Quick-flip – It’s a handy metal snap or clip fastener that’s easy to open and close even with gloves on.

V-front – This closure type has a cut a little higher on the neck and fastens below the chest to eliminate pressure when the horse’s head inclines down. 

Closed front – As its name suggests, this type has no opening in the chest, which means they are taken on and off through the head, but they are comfy and streamlined, so there are no more bunching and rubs for your horse. 

7. Tail Cord – It ties the rear ends of the blanket together to keep it in place and rests under the tail. 

So, Should You Blanket Your Horse? Or Not?

According to many veterinarians, most healthy and non-clipped horses with shelter access can manage without blanketing since their coats can provide warmth. But, when temperatures fluctuate, you might worry about your horse and reconsider blanketing. Well, to help you decide, try considering the following factors:

1. Hair coat

Shorter daylight time prompts horses to longer and coarser winter hair coats that trap warm air and insulate the horse’s body during cold seasons. However, this can vary in every horse. 

  • Horses with a full winter coat do not require blankets. 
  • Clipped horses with ‘show coats’ need a blanket to stay warm. 

2. Living situation

Access to a shelter can help the horses cope in extreme weather conditions. 

  • Horses who live in a stall shall do fine without blankets.
  • Horses who are exposed to harsh weather need a waterproof sheet or blanket. 

3. Age

As horses go through the process of ageing, their body systems become weaker, and their ability to maintain their core temperature or thermoregulate declines. So, blanketing is a smart choice to retain body heat, but the blanket’s correct fill and weight must be considered to avoid overheating and sweating.  

4. Body Condition

The stored fats of horses affect their ability to regulate their temperature. 

  • Easy keepers or horses with plenty of fat can survive without a blanket.
  • Thin horses or hard keepers need to burn more calories to keep themselves warm, so blanketing is essential.

5. LCT and Geography

A horse’s Lowest Critical Temperature (LCT) is the point at which he can maintain the core temperature in his body. Once his temperature drops below his LCT, his hair coat insulation and regular calorie intake won’t be enough to keep him warm. 

The temperature a horse is accustomed to can also influence his LCT. That’s why horses from warmer climates often wear blankets at milder temperatures than a horses in colder areas. 

So, those are the five key factors you should consider when purchasing a blanket. Even though most horses with a healthy body and active lifestyle can live well without a covering, it would be best to have one so you can be prepared when a storm comes.  

horse feeding
horse feeding

Blanketing Chart

Now, if you decide to get a blanket for your equine pet, you may want to know which weight type is the best for specific temperatures. Here’s a guide to choosing the right one for your horse. 

Note that the list chart does not consider the wind chill, precipitation, or other factors mentioned, so you need to use your judgment.  

Average temperature (°F): 60° 

Unclipped horses: Nothing 

Clipped horses: Nothing or light turnout (no fill) if rainy &/or windy

50°

Unclipped horses: Nothing

Clipped horses: Lite turnout

40°

Unclipped horses: Lite turnout

Clipped horses: Medium turnout w/ standard or high neck

30°    

Unclipped horses: Lite to medium turnout        

Clipped horses: Medium turnout w/ high neck or neck cover

20°

Unclipped horses: Medium turnout       

Clipped horses: Medium turnout w/ neck cover

10°

Unclipped horses: Medium turnout w/ standard or high neck    

Clipped horses: Heavy turnout w/ neck cover

Unclipped horses: Medium or heavy turnout w/ neck cover      

Clipped horses: Heavy turnout w/ neck cover or double blanket

Below 0°

Unclipped horses: Heavy turnout w/ neck cover 

Clipped horses: Double blanket w/ neck cover

How to Measure Horse Blanket

If you decide to purchase a horse blanket, you should be able to get the correct measurements to make sure it’ll fit your horse well. Here, you can obtain the right blanket size for your horse. 

1. First, make sure your horse is standing square so that you can obtain an accurate measurement.

2. Then, measure the distance from Point A, which is the point where the horse’s chest and neck meet, to Point B, the edge of the tail or the buttocks. Include the broadest part of the shoulder, and don’t include the center of the tail to avoid incorrect measurements. 

3. Lastly, record the distance in inches because that is the size of your horse’s blanket. 

If you can’t find the exact horse blanket size and end up between blanket sizes, it would be better to round down because buying too-large blankets that do not fit can cause it to shift during turnout. If your horse gets caught up, it can also lead to rips and injuries.

If you have decided to get a blanket for your horse, you should know how to use it correctly. Consider the following tips when fitting the new covering for your horse.

Proper Fitting Tips

1. Adjust the blanket properly and ensure it rests before the withers. If the sheet or covering is positioned far from the withers, it will cause high pressure in the area, leading to soreness. To ensure the blanket fits perfectly, try to insert your hand and look for regions pressured by running your hand from the buckles in the blanket’s chest to the horse’s wither.

2. Fasten the leg straps correctly by looping one strap through the other. Ensure the surcingle and leg straps are not too tight or loose. Tight straps can likely cause rubbing and discomfort, while loose straps may trip your horse and alter the blanket’s position. 

3. For loosened straps, try covering the adjustment buckles with duct tape to prevent it from sliding. It also helps protect the horse’s legs from the cold metal. 

Cleaning and Storing Tips for Horse Blankets

Your horse blankets need cleaning, ideally after each season. You have two options for cleaning. You can wash them yourself or use a laundry service. Check the manufacturer’s washing instructions if you choose to do it yourself. Here are the DOs when cleaning horse blankets.

1. Prewash the blanket using a stiff brush to remove any excess dirt and hair. 

2. Then, remove all the detergent buildup from your detergent dispenser. 

3. Put the blanket, straps, and buckles in a mesh bag to protect it from any potential damage. 

4. Add a blanket-cleaning wash and machine wash it in cold water(max. 85°F) in a gentle cycle. 

And here are the things you should note when washing horse blankets. 

1. Do not use a washing machine with an agitator, detergents, or fabric conditioners because it can damage the waterproof and breathable coating. 

2. Consider re-waterproofing your blanket if the water no longer beads off the surface of the turnout. It’ll help to repel water and restore breathability. 

3. Lastly, dry it by hanging it on a shade to prevent the color from fading.  

Aside from cleaning, you must store the blanket properly to make it last. You can put it on a blanket rack and hang it on the wall, bar, bag or a sealed container. When the blanket season ends, you must wash and re-waterproof it if necessary. If you can’t do it yourself, you may turn to professionals who offer horse blanket-washing services. That way, you can secure your investment because your horse’s blankets and sheets can last longer.

Share:

More Posts

Send Us A Message