Whether you’re just starting out riding horses or are an experienced stable authority, one thing is for sure – taking care of a horse involves a long list of must-have items. Horse blankets and rugs are definitely high on that list and that’s for some very good reasons.
Why Do Horses Wear Blankets?
The main reason why horses wear blankets is to protect them from the cold during the winter season. Most of these blankets drape loosely over the horse’s back and their straps are used to secure the blanket around the horse’s girth and neck. However, there are many types of horse rugs, all designed for different purposes.
Types of Rugs for Horses
- Turnout Blankets & Sheets
Turnout blankets are waterproof and made to last. A turnout horse blanket is quality and strong enough to protect the horse from the cold while keeping it warm even when exposed to rain. Besides outside, these blankets can also be worn inside. The turnout sheet is like a raincoat only for horses. Although made of a lighter material, these sheets are still waterproof and will keep your horse dry and warm when the temperatures drop.
- Stable Blankets & Sheets
Stable blankets are designed to be worn only inside as they aren’t waterproof. They come in different weights in order to provide the horse with different levels of warmth. Stable sheets are made of lighter materials which don’t compromise their function. Even though they are made of cotton, poly/cotton, canvas or nylon, stable sheets will still provide your horse with the needed warmth.
The choice of horse sheets and blankets on the market is quite huge, giving you the ability to choose exactly what you need. You can pick from rain sheets, anti-sweat sheets, fly sheets and dress sheets.
To Buy or Not to Buy Blanket for Horse?
Deciding on whether to invest in a blanket for your horse or not can depend on several factors: the horse’s living situation, its coat, digestive health, age and body condition.
An important thing to know about horses’ coat is that shorter periods of daylight can trigger horses to grow longer and coarser hair. This can help them stay warm during the colder time of the year since their hair can act as an insulator. So, you might not need a blanket or a sheet for your long-haired horse in winter, however, you should still invest in a lighter one just in case. On the other hand, horses with shorter or clipped hair for shows will definitely need a warmer blanket to keep them warm.
Having free access to its shelter can certainly help your horse cope better with winter. However, if your horse isn’t able to fully escape the elements, you certainly need to keep it warm with a waterproof blanket or a sheet.
Just like people, older horses have a weaker immune system and maintaining their core temperature can become quite a problem. So, if you have a senior horse, you should help it retain its body heat by investing in a warmer blanket and protecting it when needed.
The body condition or the horses’ overall fat cover can also impact how well it can respond to colder weather temperatures. Consequently, if your horse has plenty of fat, it may not need a blanket to survive the winter. However, if it’s naturally thin and low on fat, keeping it warm with an extra blanket is of paramount importance.
Horse Blanket Buying Considerations
A blanket’s denier is a rating used to determine how tough is the blanket’s outer layer. Consequently, the higher the denier, the tougher the outer layer, the more durable the blanket.
The fill of the blanket is closely related to how warm the garment will be. Generally speaking, blankets can come in light, medium, heavy and extra heavyweights, so choosing the right one for your horse will depend mainly on the climate.
Just like with everything else, choosing the right blanket fit for your horse is crucial, otherwise, it’ll only be a waste of money. A blanket that is too small or too big won’t give your horse the needed protection. So before investing in a model, make sure to measure your horse right.
Choosing a blanket colour usually comes down to the owner’s personal taste. However, it can also depend on some other things. For instance, if your horse is in a wooded area during a hunting season, it’s best to invest in a brightly coloured blanket so that it stands out from the surrounding environment.