Blankets are an essential part of winter equestrian life. They keep horses warm, dry, and comfortable during inclement weather. Whether you’re just starting out with your horse or already own one, you should know the ins and outs of choosing the right blanket for your horse during cold weather.
Types of Horse Blankets
There are several different types of blankets including turnout sheets, heavyweight blankets, stable sheets, and even blanket liners. With winter approaching, we will be focusing on stable blankets and turnout options.
The main difference between a stable and turnout blanket is the outer fabric. A turnout blanket is waterproof to protect your horse from the wintery mixes. As stalls offer some protection and warmth from the elements, a stable blanket does not have a waterproof outer.
Turnout blankets can also have other features designed for outdoor use such as leg arches for freedom of movement and reflective details for visibility. Horse turnout blankets also come in a variety of fabrics offering different strengths, which we will dive into deeper further down.
We also suggest regularly removing the blanket from your horse, even if you use a turnout for both outside and indoor use, to check for any rubs or pressure points ensuring your blanket is fitting properly.
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.
Some blankets in Horseware Ireland’s range use Vari-layer® technology. This innovative design uses a unique layering of thermobonded fiberfill so you get more heat retention with less weight. For example, a medium-weight blanket with Vari-layer® will have a 100g layer all over with an additional 150g just across the horse’s back creating the same heat retention as a 250g blanket. This technology creates a light blanket for you and your horse while still maintaining the most warmth.
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 correlates to the individual threads within the fabric’s yarn. Using our example of the Rambo Supreme, it has 1680 yarns within each thread 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.
How do I know which fabric and denier to choose?
Consider your horse and the environment they live in when shopping for a blanket. Are they known to destroy blankets? Are they turned out with other horses who may try to bite or tear it? If so, consider a blanket from the Rambo range as the high denier ballistic nylon is incredibly tough and prevents horses from gripping it with their teeth.
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.
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.
Horse Blanket Linings
A polyester lining is frequently used on both stable and turnout blankets. This type of lining feels smooth to the touch and is breathable. Some of Horseware’s blankets also have an anti-bacterial and anti-static lining that helps to boost shine. The anti-bacterial feature in Horseware Ireland blankets allows for coarser winter coats to stay free of microbes that may otherwise cause skin irritations.
Horse Blanket Styles
Since our horses come in lots of different shapes and sizes, blankets do too. They can vary in terms of fastenings, cut, and whether a neck cover is included.
Frames the horse’s neck and sits in front of the withers
Classic straight front closure
Best suited to narrow or fine-boned horses, as well as youngsters
Sits beyond the withers to avoid pressure on the withers and shoulders
Very versatile fit to suit lots of horses
Great for well-built horses or those with broader chests
High neck design to avoid pressure on the withers
Perfect for narrower horses with high withers
No seam between the neck cover and the blanket
Avoids placing pressure on the horse’s withers
Same fill from ears to tail
Detachable neck cover is included
Velcro loop system to attach the neck cover
Neck cover can be easily removed to suit changing weather conditions
The different styles of blankets use one of these fittings:
Classic Straight Front Closure – easy to use and has two front fastenings backed with Velcro for extra security. Suits horses with a narrower build.
V-Front Closure – helps to eliminate pressure on the shoulders when moving or grazing. It uses stainless steel non-swivel trigger clip fastenings. The clips should be snapped inwards facing your horse’s chest.
Disc Front Closure – unique to Horseware, this lightweight closure is very light and safe. It is ergonomically shaped and helps to prevent catching.
Now that you understand each aspect of the blanket, you’ll know what to look for to find the perfect fit for your horse. Long, cold winters are sure to become a lot cozier with the right blanket! Keep reading with part two of our blanket series where we’ll be exploring what factors influence the type of blanket your horse needs.