We’re all faced with different problems when we go to blanket our horses in the winter. Some horses like to destroy their expensive new threads, while others need a blanket to keep their summer coat looking pristine for the winter horse-show season. Then there are those that simply need extra protection against wind and snow during those brutally cold winter days. Depending on what climate you live in and what you like to do with your horse, blanketing needs and problems vary.
Here we spoke with five different horse owners—who live in different parts of the country—to see what problems they’re faced with come blanketing season, and help them find a blanket that fits their personal needs.
Owner: Katie Navarra, Mechanicville, New York.
Blanket needs: Protection from the snow. While Katie lets her horse, Bella, grow a winter coat, she still likes to blanket her horse during the colder months. “Bella has a tendency to be sensitive to damp weather,” Katie explains. “So I need something that’ll keep her dry when she’s outside in the snow, or in her stall.”
Blanket problems: Durability. “Bella is tough on her blankets,” Katie shares. “She’s a Houdini; I’ve had her escape out of multiple blankets, so I need something that’ll stay on her and won’t rip easily.” Katie also notes she’s become specific about the blanket’s hardware. “It gets pretty cold where I live, so I like to have a blanket that has a snap-closure front, so I don’t have to worry about taking my gloves off to throw a blanket on Bella.”
Blanket recommendation: The SmartPak Ultimate Turnout Blanket. This blanket is made from a heavy-duty, 1,000-denier ballistic nylon material that’s designed to resist rubs and tears, making it a great option for horses that are extremely tough on their blankets. The quick-clip front closures are easy to adjust and use, and take away the need to remove gloves to fasten a blanket on your horse. This blanket also has a nylon outer that’s waterproof and breathable, and a tail flap that provides additional protection from cold, damp weather. The nylon and elastic leg straps allow your horse to move freely and keep his blanket from shifting or rubbing.
More info: $199.95; smartpakequine.com.
Blanket recommendation: The Weaver Leather Heavyweight Turnout Blanket (#35-1516). It offers ultimate protection for those extra-cold winter days. It’s made from 1,200-denier material and offers 300 grams of polyester fiberfill. This blanket features a full cut, large drop, and tail flap that’s designed to contour to your horse’s body and reduce wind exposure while keeping him warm and dry. Shoulder gussets allow your horse to move comfortably. The snap-front closure is easy to fasten and unfasten, and is safeguarded with a hook-and-loop closure, so it’ll stay fastened and secure while your horse plays in the pasture.
More info: $118.19; ridethebrand.com.
Summer Hair Coat
Owner: April Freeland, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Blanket needs: Keeping a show coat. “George and I compete year-round on the Quarter Horse circuit, so it’s important that he has a tight hair coat all year,” April shares. Due to a strict horse-show budget, she also looks for durable blankets that are reasonably priced and will last for several winter seasons before needing replaced.
Blanket problems: The ability to use a blanket in different climates. “We travel to horse shows all around the country, so I need a blanket I can use when we go to shows in colder climates,” April shares. “Oklahoma typically has a mild winter; I don’t want to have a very heavy blanket because my horse lives indoors. If he gets hot and starts to sweat, eventually he gets cold from the sweat and starts to grow hair.”
Blanket recommendation: The Stormshield V-Free Regulator Blanket. This waterproof blanket is made with 1,680-denier polyester outer material, and is designed to last against horseplay in the pasture. Tekno-Dri wicking material between the lining and in the insulation layer over the back section is made to help regulate your horse’s body temperature during temperature spikes throughout the day, making it a great option if your horse is in constantly changing weather conditions. The V-Free Pressure-Free withers panel keeps pressure off your horse and helps with blanket fit.
More info: Starting at $159.99; sstack.com.
Active Pasture Horse
Owner: Kelsey Stangebye, McHenry, Illinois.
Blanket needs: Active blankets. Kelsey owns several retired horses that spend a majority of their time in the pasture. “Unless I have one that doesn’t tolerate the cold well, I usually don’t blanket my horses until it gets below 30 degrees,” Kelsey explains. “I like to to keep them outside as much as possible, so I need a heavy, waterproof blanket.”
Blanket problems: Finding a blanket with loose gussets and front-buckle closures. “Some horses don’t like when you put a blanket over their head; I like to buy blankets that have the easy-to-close, front-buckle closures, so I don’t have to worry about getting a heavy blanket over each horse’s head when they’re out.” Kelsey also needs a blanket with gussets. “If a blanket doesn’t have loose gussets, I notice rub marks on my horses’ chest and shoulder areas,” she explains.
Blanket recommendation: The Tough-1, 1,200-Denier Waterproof Poly Turnout Blanket. The ripstop poly outer shell has 250 grams of polyfill to help your horse stay dry when he’s outdoors, and an easy-to-use, double-buckle front closure with snaps. The belly wrap and tail flap provide additional protection for horses that experience more wind and snow, and the Snuggit neck creates a more custom fit for your horse to help avoid unwanted rubbing. It also comes with shoulder gussets to ensure that your horse still has freedom of movement.
More info: $119.95; jtidist.com.
Owner: Kendra Anderson, Portland, Oregon.
Blanket needs: A medium-weight, waterproof blanket. “I let my horse, Cadence Rose, grow out her winter coat, so blanketing for me isn’t only about warmth, but more about being waterproof,” Kendra shares. “My horse isn’t tough on her blankets, but I look for a blanket with higher denier so it lasts for multiple seasons and won’t rip from the slightest rub,” she explains.
Blanket problems: Finding a blanket without an attached neck that can handle Portland’s wet winters. Kendra doesn’t blanket for the entire winter season, but it’s important that Cadence Rose stay blanketed during the core parts of it. “We don’t get an extremely cold or snowy winter, but our winters are very wet from all the rain,” Kendra shares. “I prefer to keep my horse in a pasture with a shelter, so I need a blanket that’ll stay stationary and keep her dry at all times.”
Blanket recommendation: The 5k Cross Trainer Blanket. Designed with a 1,200-denier, breathable, ripstop outer shell, this waterproof blanket is extremely durable. It has 100-gram fiberfill insulation and a contoured design to help the blanket stay in place and eliminate any pressure points. It has nylon straps that are replaceable, so you don’t have to buy a new blanket when all it needs is a replacement strap. The fitted shoulder darts and fleece lining help eliminate any rubbing that might occur, and the reflective Knight Vision safety strip allows you to see your horse in low-light conditions. This blanket also offers waterproof seam tape and a rear tailgate to help provide additional protection against any wind and rain.
More info: $159.99; equibrand.com.
Buyer on a Budget
Owner: Staci Huffman, Rathdrum, Idaho.
Blanket needs: A cost-efficient, waterproof blanket. “My horses live outside a majority of the time,” Staci says. “And the snow adds weight, so I need a blanket that won’t be heavy to wear when it’s snowing out.” Another important part when she’s blanket shopping: Finding a blanket that’s in her budget, yet durable. “I have a large family and multiple horses; a good value is an important part of purchasing a winter blanket,” Staci explains.
Blanket problems: Blankets that pull on horse’s shoulders, and front-snap closures that break. “When a horse rubs on the front of his blanket, the snaps tend to break easily,” she shares. “I still like having a front closure, because I don’t want to pull the blankets over my horses’ heads, but I look for a glove-friendly closure that won’t break.” She also mentions the importance of comfort over the neck and shoulders. “In the past, blankets have caused some of my horse’s mane to fall out from the rubbing, and they’ve also rubbed hair off in the withers and shoulder areas,” Staci explains.
Blanket recommendation: The WeatherBeeta ComFiTec Essential Standard Neck Blanket. This medium-weight blanket comes in a fun new penguin print at an affordable price. It’s designed with a 1,200-denier ripstop outer shell and repel-shell coating that’s waterproof and breathable. It has 210-denier Oxford polyester lining, and traditional side gussets that allows your horse to move freely. It offers boa fleece at the withers area to eliminate any rubbing, and adjustable buckle-front closures make it easy to put your blanket on your horse. The standard tail flap provides extra protection and warmth when it is windy or snowing.
More info: $114.99; weatherbeeta.com.