In our recent posts, we shared tips to help equestrians stay warm when riding in winter. A good pair of winter breeches and winter riding boots are essential for winter horseback riding. But what about keeping your horse warm?
To blanket or not to blanket? That is always the question. Horses with thick, fluffy coats that are seldom ridden in winter may not need a blanket at all. These horses do well with natural protection, and may only need a mid-weight blanket to put on for extra cold or wet weather. Other horses will strongly benefit from the regular use of winter blankets. These include horses that are ridden in the winter months, clipped horses, older horses or horses that have trouble keeping on weight.
All horses turned out in wet or windy weather will certainly appreciate the protection a good winter turnout blanket can provide. We get a lot of questions about horse blankets, so we thought we’d share a few tips on blanketing a horse.
What Type of Winter Horse Blanket Should I Buy?
There are two main styles of horse blankets designed for your horse to wear in the winter. Turnout Blankets are waterproof and durable articles of horse clothing that are made to stand up to the elements. Stable Blankets are designed for use in and around the stable and under supervision, rather than for the rigors of turnout. They provide warmth in the barn at night and are great for layering. Stable blankets are typically water repellent to resist urine or manure stains, but are not waterproof.
What Determines the Warmth of a Horse Blanket?
Blanket warmth is determined by grams of fill. The more fill or “weight” a blanket has, the more insulation it offers. Turnout blankets and stable blankets are available in lightweights, mid-weights, and heavyweights.
The lightest turnout option is called a turnout sheet. Similar to a raincoat, these protect from the wind and wet conditions, but have no fill for additional insulation. The lightest stable blanket available is known as a stable sheet. These sheets are intended to keep your horse clean and do not have any fill to insulate or warm your horse.
Like the turnout sheet, the light weight turnout is waterproof and it typically adds 100 grams of fill, making it an ideal choice for fall and spring, as well as areas with a mild winter. Consider the Riders International Hug, a lightweight turnout.
Medium weight turnouts and blankets have 180-250 grams of fill. Midweights work well for horses with shorter coats that switch to a heavier blanket in severe weather. They are also popular for horses that are not typically blanketed who need the help of a warm blanket on wet or exceptionally cold days. The heavyweight turnout has 300 to 440 grams of fill and are best reserved for extreme cold weather conditions, body clipped horses, and horses that struggle with keeping warm.
Stable Blankets contain insulating fill weights that range from 100 to 400 grams. These insulated blankets are commonly used in the stable allowing you to replace a horse’s heavier outerwear with a loftier item that will keep your horse warm while stabled. They are also ideal for layering under turnout blankets on extra cold days.
Do I Need to Worry about Denier When Blanketing a Horse?
The Denier of the blanket refers to how tough and sturdy the outer of a turnout blanket is. Blanket deniers typically range from 200d in stable blankets up to 2000d in turnouts. The higher the denier, the more closely woven the material of the blanket outer making it less likely to rip. Some horses are not hard on blankets, while others work to masterfully take them off the minute you put it on. If your horse is turned out with other horses, or is known as the barn Houdini, investing in a blanket with a higher denier may be worth your while.
Which Horse Blanket is Best for My Horse?
Stay tuned later this week when we’ll profile Weatherbeeta, a longtime leader in horse blankets. Weatherbeeta has a range blankets to keep your horse comfortable in any weather condition. We’ll review the most popular choices, share customer reviews, and offer more tips for blanketing a horse.