Blankets: Uncovered

The Perfect Fit

Good Fit

Wrapping your horse in a well-fitting blanket is like giving him a big hug, even when you’re not there.

Take it from the Top

The top of the front closure should line up with the point of your horse’s shoulder, and the neckline should lie smoothly above your horse’s shoulder without pulling. You should be able to slide one hand between the blanket and your horse’s withers.

No Peeking

There should be a slight overlap in the fabric under the front closures, and those closures should be snug but not straining. Similarly, you don’t want to see anything “cheeky” when viewing the blanket from the back—the edges should reach, but not cover, the tail.

Keep it Covered

The blanket needs to be long enough to prevent drafts and provide adequate warmth. Make sure the blanket covers your horse’s barrel entirely, ending just below his elbow and stifle.


Bad Fit

Wither Woes and Shoulder Rubs

A blanket that’s pulled tight across your horse’s withers or shoulders is a recipe for rubs. For high-withered horses, look for a high-neck cut, and for horse’s prone to shoulder rubs, try the V-Front closure offered on many Horseware Ireland blankets.

Go for the Gold(ilocks)

In other words, make sure the fit is “just right.” If you see any skin peeking out under the front closures or more than 2” of skin between the edge of the blanket and your horse’s tail, the blanket is too small and will cause rubs. If it sits loosely and easily moves when fully buckled, it’s too big and will shift and bunch, causing rubs and even getting tangled up.

Don’t Skirt the Issue

The blanket shouldn’t look like a mini-skirt or a bed skirt. If your horse’s belly is peeking out, he’s not getting the full benefit of the warmth. If the blanket falls more than halfway to knee or hock, it’s too long, which probably means the blanket is too big overall (or is simply the wrong style for your horse).


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14 comments on “Blankets: Uncovered
  1. Sam Shelton says:

    Really appreciated the “Blankets Uncovered” article. It’s time to replace the raggedy clothes my Smokey has been wearing these last few years. Appears as though this winter will be pretty c.o.l.d. – even here in Central California.

    Thanks for your timeliness…. and all the other products I have discovered here.

    Ms. Shelton

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      You’re more than welcome Sam! Please let us know if you have any specific blanket questions, we’re always happy to help!

  2. RuthAnn Fitzpatrick, MD says:

    Please add Arabs to your recommendations. To fit body size overall I often find the sheets/blanket too long from front to back. I have tried all the brands you mention and they do not fit properly. However, a few brands do a great job such as “Turtleneck” . There must be others that you know of /handle

    • Hi RuthAnn,
      The Arab owners in our group pretty unanimously agree that Weatherbeeta blankets (http://bit.ly/Rhbeww) are a “fit hit” with their horses, with the SmartPak lineup (http://bit.ly/VprfPi) coming a close second. That said, every horse is definitely different, and I’ve personally heard great things about the Turtleneck line, though we don’t carry them ourselves. Hope that’s helpful!

    • Sandee Y. says:

      i find the schneider’s duratech sheets and blankets witht he adjusta-fit are a great fit for arabians and other hard to fit horse. they are adjustable on both sides of the neck to give you about 6 inches of adjustment.

  3. Alicia Coughey says:

    What about a narrow shoulder with LOW withers yet with a longer body, My 3 year old Standardbred cross is a nightmare to fit to a blanket!

    • Wow, that does sound like a tough body type to please! Without seeing your horse, my best recommendation would be to give the Baker line (http://bit.ly/QGD9o3) a try. These classic (and gorgeous) blankets tend to offer a slightly more streamlined fit overall.
      For a more specific recommendation based on all your horse’s information, give our Customer Care folks a buzz – they’re super smart and always happy to help – at 1-888-752-5171.

  4. Janis Stone says:

    Great information, local tack stores not so helpful, this article was very resourceful to help achieve a good fitting blanket for my quarter/draft who currently has four blankets which pull at the chest. Thank you.

  5. Jess says:

    Great article! Question, I recently purchased a stable blanket that fits the sizing requirements, until he reaches down to eat, then there are about two inches of exposed skin between the tail and the blanket. My gut feeling tells me that the blanket is a size too small. Am I correct in that assumption?

    • Hey Jess, great question! If your horse’s blanket is shifting that much, it’s almost definitely too small. Pulling forward and shifting back can cause rubs over time, especially on pressure points like the withers. Hope that helps!

  6. Amy says:

    Thank you for all the blanket info :) I have a question though, I use the rambo optimo liner underneath my horse’s blanket. On my other TB it never caused any static, but I have a new OTTB and the static is awful. I feel terrible just taking the liner off because it causes so much static. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for reducing static or a suggestion for a different liner. Thank you!

  7. Joan Diefenderfer says:

    Thanks for the good info. This year is the first year I have blanketed my old mare, age 27. We were expecting some pretty cold temps, so purchased a super heavy weight blanket for her. My question is at what temperature should we replace this blanket with a lighter weight one? Thanks, as I don’t want to chill her by replacing with a lighter one too soon.

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Joan – Thanks for your question! Since this is your first year blanketing your mare, you’ll need to pay close attention to how she’s feeling in her new “clothes,” to see what works best for her. There are some general guidelines we can give you, but it’s important to keep in mind that these are averages and they’ll vary from horse to horse and climate to climate:
      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
      Don’t forget to factor in wind chill and remember that these are just approximations and your mare is an individual. You should constantly check under her blankets to see if she’s sweaty and feel the tips of her ears if you think she might be too cold – they’re a good indicator of how she’s feeling. For more blanketing tips, checkout out our Blanketing 101 blog: http://blog.smartpakequine.com/2010/10/blanketing-101/
      If you have any more questions about your mare’s blanketing needs or want some advice when choosing transitional blankets to get her from winter to spring, feel free to call 1-888-752-5171 or email CustomerCare@SmartPak.com – our experts are always happy to help!

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