February 11, 2021
Are you in the market for a new blanket, sheet, or cooler? Picking out the right one for your horse can be overwhelming with the endless options, color choices, and fills. Unless you’re a blanketing expert, knowing what style, features, and accessories you need can be no easy feat. Since this cold weather doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast, we’ve created the ultimate guide to help you find the right type of blankets for your horse, how to properly fit your horse for a blanket, as well as how to blanket your horse appropriately based on the temperature and other key determinants.
Winter blanket lingo to help you shop smarter
Stable sheets refer to blankets and sheets that are not waterproof. Use stable sheets inside the barn only, where there's no chance of getting wet from the weather. The waterproofing also extends to any urine or manure messes that a horse makes in their stall. Stable sheets and blankets will be more permeable to stains.
Corro offers a wide assortment of stable sheets from brands including WeatherBeeta and Horseware Ireland, including:
Turnout blankets are for outdoor use in all types of weather. They are more durable than stable sheets and offer protection against the elements. Many turnout blankets are designed and cut to allow for more freedom of movement as horses run and play in their paddock or field.
Corro also offers a wide assortment of stable sheets from brands including WeatherBeeta, Horseware Ireland, Tough-1, and more, including:
Denier is a measurement of a fabric's length and weight. For every 9,000 meters of a fabric's thread, the denier equals the weight in grams. Silk has a denier of 1d. Denier has a scale, going all the way up to 2,100d.
But what does this mean for your horse? The higher the denier, the more durable the fabric. It will be more waterproof, heavier, less likely to be ripped, and more durable over time. Most turnout horse blankets have denier ratings from 600d to 1,600d.
Blankets may also have a fill number. Fill is the amount of insulating and warming fluff packed into the blankets. Horse sheets do not have any fill. Lightweight blankets have about 100 grams of fill, whereas medium and heavyweight blankets range from 100 to 400 grams of filling.
Features & blanket accessories to look for in horse blankets and sheets
Gussets are the triangular-shaped pieces of extra fabric sewn into the shoulder area of a horse's blanket. Your horse's shoulder will have room to expand forward, allowing your horse to effortlessly run, play, and get up after a roll.
High neck is the term for a style of blanket that is more square-shaped. The fabric goes further up the mane, allowing for more coverage. The extra material may prevent the base of the mane from being rubbed out. High necks can help keep water from seeping in the neck of the blanket and provide a little more warmth.
Neck covers are attached to the blanket's shoulder area and are usually removable. When connected, they will cover your horse up to their ears. That extra coverage is great for bad weather and will keep your horse much warmer than the same blanket without a neck piece.
Purchase a neck warmer cover separately if you want to add it on to an existing blanket. This accessory can attach to your blanket's d-rings for a quick upgrade.
Blanket liners can also be purchased as an additional layer to include under your horse’s blanket. Liners are breathable and often include a thermobonded fiber-fill for long-lasting heat retention to keep your horse warm and cozy. Most liners have snap closures that allow you to attach the liner to the outer shell of the blanket. They come in light, medium, and heavy weights, allowing you to pick the right amount for your horse’s individual needs.
Tail cords or leg straps?
Tail cords are typical for some coolers and stable blankets. They connect the back ends of the blankets from side to side, under your horse's tail. You might find that your horse's manure hits this cord. A mare's urine stream will often soak this cord as well.
Leg straps accomplish the same goal as the tail cord. Strap the hind end of the blankets around the hind legs. Both mechanisms serve to keep your horse's blanket in place.
Other types of horse blankets
Scrim sheets and anti-sweat sheets are decorative, open weave sheets that keep your horse free of dust. You will usually see them on horses at horse shows and competitions to keep their show grooming pristine. These sheets are great for cooling out in summer, letting your horse dry, and keeping the dust away.
Fly sheets are similar in weight to scrim sheets but with a tighter weave. The finer weave blocks flies from irritating your horse.
Rain sheets are traditionally large ear-to-tail coverings without a liner for the sole purpose of riding in the rain. More commonly, a rain sheet is a waterproof turnout sheet without any fill that protects horses from getting wet during turnout or while standing around at horse shows and competitions.
Coolers come in wool, fleece, and cotton. The wicking properties of coolers help to dry your horse. In winter, wool or fleece coolers dry the sweaty or damp horse. Irish knits, made of cotton, are more appropriate for warm weather use.
Quarter sheets refer to the cut and shape of a blanket. It could be a cooler or a rain sheet or even something with a little fill. The shape of quarter sheets covers your horse's rump, goes around the rider, and secures under the saddle flaps. Quarter sheets are perfect to warm-up and cool-off your horse.
Measuring your horse for a blanket
Grab a friend and a flexible tape measure. Place one end of the tape at the center of your horse's chest. Take it over the point of your horse's shoulder, and continue alongside your horse. Stop it where you want the blanket to end on the side of your horse. The center of the tail is too far.
That number, in inches, is your horse's blanket size. There may be some variation between brands. If your horse is between sizes, it's best to go one size up.
When to blanket and what blanket to use:
Knowing what blanket to use on what occasion can come with some challenges. Here are some general guidelines about when to use blankets.
For clipped horses:
40º to 50º Fahrenheit - Sheet or unfilled rain cover
30º to 40º Fahrenheit - Medium weight blanket, with about 100 grams of fill
20º to 30º Fahrenheit - Heavier weight blanket, with about 200 or more grams of fill
Below 20º Fahrenheit - You may want to layer blankets or use a heavy-duty blanket with 400 grams of fill. If you are layering blankets, adjust the top blanket larger to keep your horse comfortable.
40º to 50º Fahrenheit - The natural coat should be great
30º to 40º Fahrenheit - Sheet or unfilled rain cover
20º to 30º Fahrenheit - Medium weight blanket, with about 100 grams of fill
Below 20º Farenheit - Use a heavier weight blanket, with about 200 or more grams of fill
Other factors to consider when choosing how to blanket your horse
You’ll want to consider the weather for the day. Wind and clouds feel much different than sunshine. While the temperature might say one thing, wind and overcast skies might call for a warmer blanket.
The age and health of your horse is also a key factor to consider. Younger horses have an easier time regulating their body temperatures. Older horses might need some help in that department, so they may require warmer blankets.
Is your horse a hard keeper or an easy keeper? Hard keepers have trouble keeping weight and need blankets to help them! Easy keepers might have a layer, or two, of extra body insulation and can go with thinner sheets when required.
How much hair does your horse have? Clipped horses and those with wispy coats may need thicker blankets or neck pieces. Heavily coated horses need less help in the blanket department unless, of course, their hair is brittle and has lost some of its natural waterproofing.
Horse blanket care tips
Taking care of your equine’s blankets is essential to keeping them in great condition for your horse to wear. Here are our tips for optimal care:
Regularly brush off the shell of your horse's blankets to remove mud and dirt. Use a brush that's quite stiff and not a brush from your horse's grooming box.
Make adjustments to the elastic leg straps as needed. They may stretch over time.
Wash your horse's blankets with mild detergent, designed specifically for horse blankets.
For long term storage of blankets, wash and dry them beforehand. Fold them and secure them in rodent-proof bins, bags, or trunks.
Blanket racks make for tidy barn aisles. Hanging your horse's blankets also lets them drip dry if needed.
You can also find replacement buckles, surcingles, and leg straps to keep your horse's gear in top shape.
Surcingle stoppers are tiny circles of rubbery goodness that loop onto some buckles. The stoppers reduce the chance of a buckle coming apart.