Horse Blankets Uncovered!
If you have a horse chances are you have a horse blanket. Especially if you live in colder climates that have to deal with a cold long winter. There are millions of blankets to chose from in the market, so here is a little guide on blankets and sheets for your horse.
Blanket vs Sheet
A horse sheet is any thin blanket. Usually only one layer of fabric that is held on by leg straps, surcingle around the belly, and either a buckled front or the pull over kind. Some sheets can be used as a layer when layering blankets to provide extra warmth or wick moisture. Some are used during the summer to keep the sun and flies off or before shows to keep clean. Some are used more in the winter to help a horse dry off with out catching a chill.
Blankets are much thicker and often have a few layers of material. The outer is a durable, generally waterproof, fabric that holds up well to the daily abuse a horse can give its blankets. The inside can be filled with fluffy poly-fill for extra warmth. Like sheets, blankets also have leg straps and a surcingle around the belly.
Rugs (often used as the UK term for winter blankets) which in the USA are uncommon but not unheard of are the heaviest of them all. Made from thick, heavy duty material, they tend to rub the horses hair out if not used with a sheet. They also take a very long time to dry once they get wet.
Different types of Sheets
Sheets are as different as horses and have as many uses.
The lightest sheet is the Fly Sheet or Scrims. These keep the bugs,and to an extent the sun, off the horse. These are made out of a breathable mesh material.
Dress Sheets are fancy sheets for use at or before shows. The straps around the belly are on the inside and harder to see. The Dress Sheet is usually an occasional use sheet rather than something used daily. its harder to clean and designed to be used to keep dirt off a show horse and tack. Also great for trailer rides.
Stable sheets are lightweight sturdy sheets to keep dust off your clean horse and to keep the chill off in the barn. Often used under blankets. Most of these are not waterproof and not meant for turn out.
Turnout sheets are one step above the stable sheet in that they are waterproof and heavy duty. They are designed to stay on when your horse is turned out.
Coolers are like sheets but are only draped over the horse and unsafe to leave on an unattended horse. The classic cooler covers the horse from ears to tail. Designed to help a horse cool out in cold weather after a work out without the horse getting chilled. Those are made of fleece or sometimes wool. Warm weather coolers are open honeycombed cotton like fabrics designed to absorb sweat and help the horse to cool down after the horse has exercised. Neither are meant to be worn in the horses stall.
Quarter sheets or exercise rugs are short sheets that only over the horses back end and the rider in some cases. Used at horse shows for warm ups and for warming up in the winter, they cover the horse's biggest muscle mass to help it warm up properly and not cramp in the cold.
Lastly, is the blanket liner. These could be as simple as a light sheet used for layering or the new high tech skin tight Lycra blankets and hoods.
Different types of Blankets
Blankets are the heavier version of the sheet. Most have 1 or more layer and can hold up to more. Many are also waterproof and windproof for extra protection for horses that are out in the elements. Blankets come in different weights, medium and heavy. Blankets can also be layered for the coldest of nights. Check out our Blankets for all of your horse's needs!
There are two ways of rating a blanket. First is the Denier, this is in reference to the weight of the yarn used to make the fabric. It is the outside layer of the blanket. The higher the number of denier the stronger and tougher the blanket will be. The range is 210 to 2100. The other important number to look for is the poly fill gram. The higher this number the more insulation and warmth for the horse. The range for the poly fill is about 0-400 grams.
When to use what blanket
With so many choices in blankets the next natural question is what blanket when?
Given that there are so many this can be slightly overwhelming. First thing to take in to consideration is the horse’s coat. Is it shaved or shaggy? Is is a hardy youngster or an old schooler that needs to keep weight on? Show horses are often shaved during the winter. They will definitely need to be kept warm. The shaggier horse needs less blanketing over all. Here is a general guideline to how cold and what blanket you should be using.
Keep in mind horses are as different as people, some are fine without a blanket some shiver when the wind blows.
Shaved, clipped or Elderly horses,
thirty five to fifty degrees Fahrenheit a light sheet (0 gram fill).
fifteen to thirty five degrees Fahrenheit a medium weight blanket (100-200 gram fill).
zero to fifteen degrees Fahrenheit a heavy weight blanket (250-400 gram fill).
any less than zero degrees use a heavy rug style blanket or layer up.
For the horse with a full coat,
forty to fifty degrees, usually unnecessary to blanket a horse that has a full coat or a medium coated horse.
thirty five to forty degrees a sheet
fifteen to thirty degrees Fahrenheit a medium weight blanket
zero to fifteen degrees Fahrenheit a medium heavy blanket or layered sheet and blanket
anything less than zero a heavy weight blanket.
Some horses do not need to be blanketed at all, or only need to be blanketed when expecting precipitation.
Check on your horse regularly make sure the horse is not too warm and/or sweating under its blanket during the warmer daylight hours. Sweating can lead to chills if the blanket gets damp.