There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to blanketing. To blanket or not to blanket can be a really tricky decision. Even then, there are more choices like what blanket weight you should put on your horse or which fabric is the best to use. Trying to find the answers to these questions can lead to hours of research. Whether you’re just starting out with your horse or already own one, Horseware Ireland is here to help with choosing the right blanket for your horse during cold weather.
Let’s dig into the features and benefits of horse blankets, factors influencing blanket selection, and how to find the perfect blanket that fits your horse’s needs.
When to Blanket
If you’re feeling cold, then it makes sense that your horse is too but it’s not as straightforward as that. Horses have a thermoneutral zone of between 41°F and 77°F, whereas humans have a thermoneutral zone of around 77°F to 86°F.
The thermoneutral zone is a range of temperatures where little or no extra energy is needed to keep you at a normal, comfortable temperature. Horses have a much wider thermoneutral zone than humans so just because you need to wear a sweater, your horse doesn’t necessarily need another layer. However, when temperatures drop below a horse’s thermoneutral zone, they use additional energy to maintain their normal body temperature.
Of course, there are additional factors to consider when blanketing your horse; their age, breed, access to shelter, availability to forage, weather, and the coat length all play a role in how much energy they expend to keep warm.
Weights of Horse Blankets
Horse blankets come in different weights which correspond to the amount of fiberfill they contain. Heavier blankets contain more fiberfill to keep your horse warmer.
Lightweight blankets start from 0g fiberfill and go up to 100g. A lightweight turnout is useful in wet, warmer weather to want to keep your horse dry. They are also useful for crisp days on an unclipped horse. A stable blanket with no fill at all is often referred to as a stable sheet and helps to keep your horse clean while offering extra warmth. These sheets are ideal during autumn horse shows with cool weather.
Medium-weight blankets typically have a fiberfill of 150g to 250g. They have a wide range of uses as this weight of blanket suits many horses and weather conditions.
Heavy-weight blankets are the warmest and are over 300g. These blankets are ideally suited to winter weather or for horses that are more prone to feeling cold such as those fully clipped or older.
Fabrics for Horse Blankets
When looking for a new turnout blanket, you might notice different fabric types such as polyester, polypropylene, and ballistic nylon. These refer to the outer layer and are a key indicator of the fabric’s strength.
The type of fabric is usually accompanied by its denier, for example, the strongest fabric with the highest denier is the Rambo Supreme 1680D with a ballistic nylon outer.
When comparing the same fabric, a higher denier shows it is stronger as this number correlates to the individual threads within the fabric’s yarn. Using our example of the Rambo Supreme, it has 1680 threads within each yarn compared to another blanket that may have 1200.
It’s key to look at the type of fabric used when comparing blankets, as different fabrics have different strength. For example, a blanket with 1000D ballistic nylon is stronger, lighter, and more durable than a blanket that is 1200D polyester.
Consider your horse and the environment they live in when shopping for a blanket and deciding on fabrics. Is your horse known to destroy blankets? Are they turned out with other horses who may try to bite or tear them? Are they easy on previous blankets they’ve had? We suggest, the tougher the horse is on their blanket, the stronger the fabric and the higher the denier so you won’t find yourself replacing a blanket mid-season.
If your horse is turned out for long periods of time in adverse weather conditions, you’ll want a blanket with a high waterproof and breathability rating. The Rhino and Rambo turnouts use Aquatrans technology making them a great waterproof turnout blanket. But what is Aquatrans? This means the fabrics on these blankets can withstand 10m of water in 24 hours and allow 3000g of vapor to pass through 1m2 of fabric in 24 hours. It ensures maximum waterproofness with superior breathability.
Finding the Right Size Blanket
The fit of your blanket is extremely important to ensure the comfort of your horse and to prevent rubbing and blanket slippage. As horses of the same height at the wither come in a variety of shapes and sizes, it is useful to take certain measurements of your horse.
Using a soft measuring tape, measure from the center point of the chest, across the widest point of the shoulder and to the center of the tail. When you have the measurement, subtract 4 inches to find the right size for a Horseware Ireland blanket. Bear in mind that different brands may have different measuring requirements, so it’s best check size charts when purchasing.
Getting Through the Season
By selecting a horse blanket designed to withstand your horse’s environment, you won’t have that sinking feeling when you spot your horse trotting up the pasture with half their blanket ripped to shreds, or them standing looking miserable because water has soaked through.
Remember to assess your own horse when deciding on how to blanket. It is easy to be swayed by what other owners are putting on their horses. Trust that you know your horse and their individual needs.
You don’t need to stick to the same decision the whole fall and winter. As the weather changes, your blanketing may need to change. It’s likely that even if you start with no blanket you need to opt for a lite weight turnout as the weather gets wetter. Similarly, you may need to change to a heavy weight from a medium weight if you fully clip your horse, or temperatures drop.
Visit www.shop.horseware.com more information about blanketing or to see the 2022 Autumn Winter Collection by Horseware Ireland.
This content was paid for and provided by Horseware Ireland. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Chronicle of the Horse.