Sparkles and Sunshine: Horse Blanketing 101

Horse Blanketing 101

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Happy Tuesday!

It sure has been cold lately hasn't it? For those of you who might not know, I live in Jacksonville, Florida! Even here we've been experiencing lower temperatures in the 50's all the way to the 30's at night. With colder weather comes lots of layering for ourselves, and our favorite equine friends. Today's blog post is about how to know when to put on a blanket or a sheet and how to know what size to get, tried and true brands, and more!

Bay quarter horse wearing sheet and blanket outside at farm in jacksonville or saint augustine florida

Just so you guys know, all of these photos feature Brandy in a sheet and a blanket because it was pretty cold the day we took these photos! 

I heard something recently from The Amateur Hour Equestrian Podcast that to me very easily explained how to know when to put on a sheet or a blanket on your horse:

"If you go outside and feel like you need a sweater, then your horse needs a sheet. If you go outside and you feel like you could use a jacket, then your horse needs a blanket. If you go outside and feel like you could use both, then your horse needs both!"

Of course, there are a lot of factors that also determine what your horse needs:
  • Where you live (temperatures)
  • What type of coat/hair your horse has
  • How thick is your sheet/blanket you've purchased
  • Does your horse usually run hot/cold
If you are generally from an area that is used to having a longer winter/colder temperatures and your horse has been there for quite some time, most likely they are already used to the weather and their coat has adapted. If you are bringing a new horse to such environment, it will take them some time to get used to it. I always think about it as if it was myself. If I (someone who's always lived in Florida) decided to move to New York and experience my first winter, I'd freeze my butt off from the start! I wouldn't automatically adapt to the new environment right away. 

Horses are the same way. Sometimes drastic weather changes like that can also make them not feel too great, so you want to help them feel as comfortable as possible at all times! 


Bay quarter horse wearing sheet and blanket outside at farm in jacksonville or saint augustine florida

I've also learned recently that there are different levels of thickness to blankets. For example there's a medium blanket which works perfectly for a horse at my barn with a thicker coat. 

If your horse usually runs warmer, you won't necessarily need the same thing that other horses do at certain temperatures. One horse at my barn runs warm and even though he was recently clipped, when it gets cold he only needs his blanket because otherwise he would be too hot! 

Bay quarter horse wearing sheet and blanket outside at farm in jacksonville or saint augustine florida

At my current barn, our rule of thumb is, if the horse is clipped and it gets below 60 degrees, they get a sheet. If it gets below 50 and is in the 40's or lower, then get a sheet and a blanket. This same rule applies to horses that don't have thicker hair or who have thinner, more fine hair! My trainer's thoroughbred has very thin, fine hair and so she always has something on when it gets a little chilly!

If you horse has a thicker coat, I have heard it referenced as a more natural coat, then you usually can wait until somewhat colder temperatures before having to put anything on. What I've seen, is that if they have a thick coat and it gets into the 60's, they don't need a sheet. If it gets into the 40's or below, we usually put a blanket on. 

Bay quarter horse wearing sheet and blanket outside at farm in jacksonville or saint augustine florida

The reason why we put on a blanket or a sheet is to keep them warm. It's important to know the difference because too thick of a layer could result in them sweating, leading to discomfort and potential sickness; and too cold can also lead to discomfort and sickness.

Bay quarter horse wearing sheet and blanket outside at farm in jacksonville or saint augustine florida

Now that we've gone over a somewhat high level overview of horse blanketing, I'm sure you're wondering:
  1. Are there certain brands that are better than others? 
  2. What size do I get?
In terms of brands, the main ones that I see at my barn are Horseware Ireland, WeatherBeeta, and Smartpak brand. My trainer Heather is personally a huge fan of Horseware's blankets because she says they tend to last a long time and are very durable. Which, when I'm a new horse owner one day, I would want something that is going to last me a while. 

As a beginner rider, I know I was very confused when I saw a numerical range for horse blanket sizes that I had never seen before. To figure out your horse's blanket size, I found this super helpful video from Smartpak that goes over how to fit your horse for a blanket. Click here to watch it! One thing that the video points out is that some brands might run differently and that reading reviews (or asking fellow riders) is very important. Similar to our clothes, many brands fit differently! 

Bay quarter horse wearing sheet and blanket outside at farm in jacksonville or saint augustine florida

You always want to make sure that your blanket is secure on them, and that all parts are fastened. You'll want to check for the following:
  1. Two buckles in the front on their chest
  2. Two to three on their belly
  3. One strap that their tail goes over or two that cross through their legs and clip to the blanket
Fun fact: if your blanket looks like my image below, you'll notice how the straps are crossed on the belly. If you see on your blanket that the fabric where the fasteners are are angled, then you know that your straps criss-cross under their belly. If the fabric is straight, then the straps go directly under without any crossing!


Bay quarter horse wearing sheet and blanket outside at farm in jacksonville or saint augustine florida
Bay quarter horse wearing sheet and blanket outside at farm in jacksonville or saint augustine florida

What are your favorite blanket brands? I'd love to hear who is your tried and true brand and what you thought of this post in the comments below. Thanks for reading! 

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