If you’re a true horse person, you’ve probably stayed up at night worrying about whether you’ve blanketed your horse correctly. Too many, too few, too thick, not thick enough. The possibilities are almost endless! The worst feeling is taking the horse blanket off in the morning only to discover they’re drenched in sweat, or worse – shivering!.
While horses are naturally quite good at regulating their body temperature, their domesticated circumstances make them rely heavily on their owners. Horses can actually predict changes in temperature through their whiskers, but it doesn’t do them much good if they’re clipped or unable to huddle with another horse for warmth. On top of all this, horses are like people in that they may run hot or cold naturally.
You’re probably stressing out already just reading this, but I found a handy table on SmartPak that can help you calculate how to dress your pony perfectly:
- 45º F Not clipped: no blanket; clipped: light
- 35º F Not clipped: light; clipped: medium
- 25º F Not clipped: medium; clipped: heavy
- 15º F Not clipped: heavy + hood; clipped: heavy, liner + hood
- below 10º F Heavy, liner + hood for all; add polar fleece for clipped
A lightweight sheet has 0g (no fill). A medium weight has 150-225 g of fill. A heavyweight has 250-370 g of fill, and some blankets for harsh conditions have 400 g of fill.
This means the amount of polyester “fill” or insulation. The more fill, the warmer the blanket is.
A cotton or poly/cotton blend absorbs moisture, a nylon lining helps polish the horse’s coat and helps the blanket mobilize (like the lining in your show coat), and a mesh lining is optimum for breathability.
If your horse is out in the rain, you definitely need a specifically waterproof blanket. This sounds obvious, but just because a blanket looks like it’s made out of rain jacket type fabric doesn’t mean it will keep your horse dry – it may just be windproof. Truly waterproof blankets require a special coating. Make sure you read tags carefully while shopping. If this coating eventually wears off, you can spray it with a “waterproofing” spray (available at most tack stores).
This refers to the density of the nylon fibres of the outer shell. It is similar to thread count for bed sheets. A higher Denier means the blanket is more durable and water resistant. If you have a “blanket destroyer,” it’s probably more cost effective in the long run to buy a super durable, high denier rug, rather than having to repair and replace cheaper blankets all the time (I speak from exhausting experience).
While these are handy tips for blanketing, your barn manager, trainer or even vet can provide more specific information based on your location, climate and your horse’s individual needs. Remember that even when you’re not riding regularly, it’s important to groom your horse during the winter, or at least check under their blanket to make sure everything’s okay under there!