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Blanketing Uncovered

Have no fear the next time you hear the word “denier”! Get the answers to all your blanket questions here (even the ones you never thought to ask!).

Q: Can we get more info re: layering, as in when best to add a fleece vs. when to double-blanket?
A: Layering definitely comes into effect when you’re dealing with really low temperatures and you can’t provide enough coverage in a single blanket alone. There’s a question coming specifically about this topic, and you can also check out our approximate temperature guide in our Blanketing 101 blog article:


Q: What about Gore Tex? Which blankets have it?
A: GORE-TEX® is a proprietary waterproof membrane and is one of many ways to waterproof fabric thanks to recent advances in fabric technology. The most popular turnout blankets today offer waterproof guarantees to ensure your horse stays dry and warm. For example, Rambo® Turnout blankets are backed by a 3-Year Warranty, and SmartPak’s Ultimate Ballistic Nylon Turnout Blanket carries a 10-Year Indestructible Guarantee.


Q: Should I blanket my body clipped 5-year-old even though she is of fine weight?
A: If you’re taking away your mare’s natural layer of protection, you should definitely be replacing that with a blanket (after all, she grew the coat for a reason – to stay warm!)


Q: What does it mean when people say they can waterproof a blanket?
A: There are some “after-market” products available that allow you to spray on or wash in a special coating that essentially makes the fabric waterproof. These products can occasionally have unexpected results when interacting with fabrics, so it’s best to spot test it in a small, discreet area. Different exterior fabrics require different treatments, so you’ll always want to read the instructions carefully.


Q: What was the best fit mentioned for Arabs?
A: If you have a narrowly built horse, like an Arab, streamlined blankets like those in the Weatherbeeta line usually offer a great fit. The SmartPak blankets also feature super-adjustable front closures that fit a variety of body types, including horses that are narrower through the shoulders.


Q: My mare was stabled and blanketed under lights before I got her. Her coat is still fairly short even though I do not blanket or stable her. She can go inside but does not go in often. Do I need to sheet or blanket her if we have mild winters due to her short coat? She also is “hot” and sweats a lot during cow work even on cold nights. What are my best options for her well being?
A: If your mare isn’t accustomed to growing a full coat, she could probably use a bit of blanketing support. Check out our Blanketing 101 blog for an approximate temperature guide. Your mare probably falls somewhere between the clipped and not clipped ranges, so you should monitor her warmth under the blanket(s) carefully. Regarding the sweating after work, you should make sure you give her plenty of time to cool down after working, so that she doesn’t get moisture trapped under her coat and/or blanket(s). Using a fleece cooler after rides will help wick moisture away from her skin and coat, and will allow her muscles to cool down gradually.


Q: Does the Rambo Blanket Wash work effectively for non-barrier water proofing technologies?
A: As long as you’re not washing in standard detergent/soap, the Rambo Blanket Wash should be less degrading on the waterproofing (but you still shouldn’t wash too often!)


Q: Does the horse’s age affect whether they should wear a blanket and which blanket to use?
A: It can! As horse’s grow older, the actual act of thermoregulation (regulating their own body temperature) can become more difficult. Also, older horses may have a harder time keeping weight on since they are typically less efficient at utilizing their food and have less fat on their bodies overall. Each senior horse is a unique case though and the decision to blanket or not to blanket should be made on an individual basis.


Q: Does the same thing go for hard keepers, even if they are young?
A: Great question, Lydia. The answer is yes, thermoregulation uses a lot of energy (think calories). If your horse is constantly shivering he’s going to be using quite a lot of energy to keep him warm, which could translate into weight loss. If your horse is toasty all winter, but is still losing weight, consider putting him on a fat-based supplement to get him some extra calories. SmartGain 4 and Cool Calories 100 are both good options. 


Q: Can you tell if a horse is too warm or too cold by feeling his skin under the blanket?
A: Yes, you can definitely use the “skin test” by placing your hand under the blanket around the shoulder or back to see how your horse is feeling. If he feels chilly, you should probably move up a layer or weight. However, if you’re not sure, it’s always best to err on the side of too few blankets/too light of a blanket, rather than too many/heavy. If your horse gets too hot, he will start to sweat, which can then turn into trapped moisture, causing a chill when the mercury dips later on.


Q: I have a 32 year old Arabian who has gotten sway backed through the years. I have problems finding a blanket that doesn’t rub her withers/neck or the top of her rump. Is there a brand or style that may work better for her?
A: Wow, 32! Your mare is lucky to have a mom who takes such great care of her, Dinah! It sounds like she is probably a bit narrow, so Weatherbeeta or SmartPak brand blankets would be a great choice for her, eliminating unnecessary bulk that will cause rubs. Be sure to look for a high neck style to help avoid wither rubs, and a smooth lining like nylon (rather than wool or acrylic yarn), which will be much more gentle on her sensitive coat and skin.


Q: Do you have any recommendations for blanketing unclipped, outside horses after a longer workout where they have worked up a sweat?
A: Definitely a challenge, Kate, we can sympathize! You will definitely want to plan a long cool-out time for your horse after your rides, to allow the sweat to fully dry off before you put your horse back out. Using a fleece cooler while you’re cooling down will help wick that sweat away from the body so your horse will dry a bit faster. If you want to turn your horse out with a waterproof turnout blanket, your best bet will be to layer that turnout over a fleece, to help manage moisture by wicking.


Q: What about hoods?
A: Traditional “hoods” refer to full face coverage, and they’re not usually waterproof. If you want extended coverage and waterproofing, opt for a neck cover/neck rug. Whichever one you choose, you’ll need to make sure it’s designed to match the blanket you’re pairing it with, otherwise it won’t be able to attach securely, which can be quite troublesome. 


Q: What about when it’s too warm for turnout sheets during the day, but then it rains so they are cold and wet for colder night time temps? Should you put fleece under their turnout blanket or leave them naked for the night?
A: That’s a tough one! You definitely don’t ever want to blanket your horses when they’re wet. If you can’t bring your horses in for a couple hours to allow them to dry before blanketing for the night, you’re probably best off leaving them uncovered. When it comes to blanketing, horses are more likely to end up too hot than too cold, so it’s better to err on the side of too few layers.

Sarah Paull

Sarah Paull is a lifelong rider and SmartPak’s Brand Manager. You may know her better as the life-size foam finger from the London Olympics, the host of USEF Network’s Live from London coverage, or “that girl from the Stuff Riders Say videos.” Prior to joining SmartPak in 2008, Sarah worked as a Veterinary Technician at B.W. Furlong & Associates in Oldwick, NJ, and obtained her degree in Equine Science from Centenary College. Sarah is the proud mom of Cody, a semi-retired, 23-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, and she’s currently looking for an eventing partner to help her get rid of all the extra time, money and energy she doesn’t actually have :-) If you're interested in her often-horsey, always-odd musings, follow @SmartPakerSarah on Twitter.

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3 comments on “Blanketing Uncovered
  1. Katie says:

    Thanks for all this info! I love smartpak’s blog! I live in KY, my horses live mostly outside and have shelter. I don’t get to ride much so I don’t mind them being fuzzy for the winter. I do put a turnout waterproof sheet on them when the weather is wet and/or very windy to keep them dry and the draft off. I recently read an article that said I was just making them colder because these sheets are flattening their hair coat. Any thougts on this?

    Thanks again for all the great articles and videos!

    • Hey Katie, great question! Your horses are lucky to have such a smart and caring momma.
      You are correct that putting a blanket or sheet on your horse will compress their coat, which will in turn prevent the natural “puffing up” mechanism they use to insulate themselves from the cold. However, if it’s raining hard, your horse won’t be able to puff up their coat either, since it will be slicked down by the rain. In your case, I’d recommend taking a peek at our approximate temperature guide at the bottom of our Blanketing 101 blog ( and continuing to support your horse with waterproof protection when it’s cold and rainy.
      Good luck and have a great ride!

  2. Katherine says:

    I would love to know when you should just give up and replace a blanket. I have a few waterproof blankets that I have washed with a blanket wash that is not supposed to wash away the waterproofing membrane. However, in a downpour, the blanket is not doing its job, and my horse got wet. How do I know whether to have it professionally rewaterproofed, or throw it away? Is there a way to tell if it’s permanently compromised? Thanks so much!

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