When I was a little kid, I loved Back to School shopping. New year, new styles, new clothes, I thought it was the best thing ever. That is, until I owned my first pony and learned about blanket shopping. New clothes for my pony?! I was hooked.
Blanket shopping is exciting and fun, but it can also be a daunting task. With so many different styles, weights and technical terms, it can be tough to know where to begin. But here at SmartPak, we love to make it easier for you to take great care of your horse. With that in mind, I put together a “little” guide to help you build the best wardrobe for your horse.
How to Measure
Before you can start shopping, you need to know what size your horse needs. The most common way to measure your horse is to take a side measurement. Starting at the center of the chest, run a cloth tape measure in a straight line down your horse’s side to the point of the buttocks (just before the “cheek” meets the tail.) This measurement, in inches, will be your horse’s true size. For a quick demonstration on how to measure your horse for a blanket, check out the video below:
In this example, Diem measures 75”, so that would be his true size. (It’s worth noting that having a friend to help measure makes things much easier on you and your horse. It’s also worth noting that Diem should’ve been standing square while we measured him, but he’d been out schooling cross country all morning and was feeling rather lazy.)
The Right Blanket for Your Horse
If you’re new to the world of blanketing, or if you have a new horse that you’ve never “dressed” before, it can be really tough to know where to start. As riders and horse owners with years of experience dressing horses of all shapes and sizes, we have a lot of practice finding the right fit. I’ve pulled together some general feedback on what blankets are best for what body types, along with other helpful hints, to make your shopping easier.
If you have…
- A thin/narrowly built horse, like a thoroughbred or arabian, you may want to consider the Weatherbeeta blankets, which offer a more streamlined fit that won’t swallow your horse whole.
- Horseware Ireland’s Rambo line is very popular for the larger breeds, as are the SmartPak blankets and the Baker line. A big & tall horse, like a warmblood or draft cross, you’ll want a blanket that has a lot of room in all directions.
- A stockier horse, like a Quarter Horse, Paint, Morgan or some pony crosses, you’ll need a blanket with plenty of room in the shoulders and hips, but without a long drop. Big D blankets have been a popular choice for years because they offer ample room without rubbing. The SmartPak blankets and Horseware Ireland’s Amigo line have also been highly recommended for these types of horses, as their overall proportions decrease very evenly as the sizes go down.
A few more helpful hints:
- Leg straps: some blankets have them, others don’t, and whether you’d want them or not depends on your horse. If you have a really skittish horse, you may want to avoid spending time around his back legs, so Horseware Ireland blankets, sans leg straps, may be better for you. However, if you have an escape artist who is always wriggling out of his blankets, leg straps might offer the added security that you’re looking for, making SmartPak, Big D or Weatherbeeta blankets a better choice for you.
- SmartPak Deluxe High Neck and Orican Freestyle High Neck are both great choices. High neck blankets tend to put less pressure on the withers, making them great for high-withered horses or those prone to wither rubs. The
- Closed-front blankets, like the Big D All American Blanket, offer a seamless fit across your horse’s chest. Eliminating the front closures is a handy way to avoid bulk if you’re layering up. However, since they don’t have a chest opening, closed-front blankets have to go on and off over the head, making them less than ideal for nervous nellies.
- V-Front blankets, like the Rambo Wug and Rhino Wug, are cut a little higher over the shoulder and neck, and come together lower on the chest. This unique design eliminates some of the traditional pressure points, making it ideal for horses that get chest and shoulder rubs when wearing standard style blankets.
- SmartPak Deluxe Turnout Blanket and Amigo Turnout Blanket offer a durable 1200 denier exterior, while the Big D Heavy Magnum Turnout boasts an impressive 2100 denier outer shell. Ballistic nylon and ripstop exterior fabrics are also indicators that a blanket will stand up to a little more abuse. If you’ve got a horse that’s notoriously tough on his blankets, the higher the denier, the better. The
These are just some general suggestions and, of course, every horse is different, so there’s no one-size-fits all approach. If you have a blanket that works well for your horse, we’d love for you to share it here or write a review on our website to help other customers shop for their horses!
The right blanket for the weather
There are a lot of factors to consider when figuring out how much you want to bundle up. To help out, we created a quick-reference temperature guide. Of course every horse and every environment has it’s own unique considerations, so if you have specific questions, you should check with your vet.
Approximate Temperature Guide
45° F – Not clipped: no blanket; Clipped: light weight blanket
35° F – Not clipped: light weight blanket; Clipped: medium weight blanket
25° F – Not clipped: medium weight blanket; Clipped: heavy weight blanket
15° F – Not clipped: heavy weight blanket + hood; Clipped: heavy weight blanket, liner + hood
Below 10°F, Heavy weight blanket, liner + hood for all; add polar fleece for clipped
If you’re not sure about the various weights, the meaning of terms like “denier” or the difference between sheets, stable blankets and turnouts, we can help! Check out our in-depth Blanketing Glossary or call our experts at 1-877-885-2904.