Selecting the right horse blanket can be a daunting task, especially if you do not completely understand the meanings of the terms used to describe and differentiate between different styles and types of horse blankets. A basic understanding of the terms used to describe blanket features and their meanings will enable you to sort through your options in order to find the blanket that will work best for your horse and weather situation.
Turnout versus Stable
One of the first things you will need to decide when you start blanket shopping is whether you need a turnout blanket or a stable blanket. Stable blankets are thick, quilted blankets that are designed exclusively to provide warmth for your horse while it is inside a stall, inside your barn. Stable blankets are not waterproof or known for their durability. You should not ever turn a horse out, even into a paddock, while wearing just a stable blanket because the blanket can absorb moisture and may leave your horse stuck in an uncomfortable wet, soggy blanket.
Turnout blankets are more durable, breathable waterproof blankets that are designed for use outdoors. Turnout blankets feature a more rugged design but typically offer less quilting or padding than stable blankets. Turnout blankets can be used indoors as well as outdoors.
Denier is the word used to describe how sturdy or tough the outer shell of the blanket is. The denier of a blanket does not significantly affect or determine the warmth of the blanket. Most blankets currently on the market offer strengths between 600 and 1200 denier.
The term “grams” is seen in almost all blanket sales descriptions and it refers to the actual thickness and weight of the blanket's filling. The weight of the filling does determine how warm the blanket is, as well as the 'weight' of the blanket. Depending on the thickness of the filling, a blanket will be classified as light weight, medium or heavy.
A light weight blanket (normally called a sheet) generally has 150 grams of filling or less. A medium weight blanket has between 150 and 300 grams of filling and a heavy blanket has a filling of 300 grams or higher.
Before you purchase a blanket, it is important that you consider the environment you live in and your own horse's particular blanketing needs. A horse who is sweating while wearing too warm a blanket in winter weather is likely to be just as uncomfortable, if not more so, than a horse that does not have a blanket. You will need to pay attention to your horse's comfort level in order to develop a proper blanketing program.
Most horses grow a healthy winter coat that provides natural insulation and protection from the cold. If your horse does not grow a winter coat or you clip its winter coat, it will need a heavier blanket.
Many horse owners opt to purchase several blankets in different weights and then layer them as needed. For example, if it rarely gets below freezing temperatures in your area, you will probably need a light weight sheet and a medium weight blanket for most weather situations. However, if it gets extremely cold, you can layer the sheet on top of the blanket to provide extra warmth on those record breaking cold nights.