Can I put my horse’s blanket on over his head? Or remove it that way?
Yes, you can. This is a legit way of doing things - and also a very legit way to have a tangled hot panicked mess of a horse, and also a giant emergency vet bill. I have been at barns where this is the norm, and it scares the daylights and the nightlights out of me. I have seen horses spook and spin/bolt/freak out in the middle of this process. Then the horse gets even more spooked when they realize they can’t see and there’s something hanging off their necks and tangled in their front feet and there are straps and buckles smacking them.
The absolute safest way to blanket a horse is to have him stand in cross ties. Another option is in a stall, with a halter and lead rope on. With the lead rope not dangling down. The most unsafe way is a naked horse in a paddock, with buddies. Adding buddies into the mix means you need to be vigilant for your horse spooking and also the other horse’s spooking/running/nudging/peckingorder/shenanigans that can interfere with your horse.
For simplicities sake, this is how I like to blanket. From front to back.
- I will drape my horse’s blanket over his withers and unfold it to the front and then the back.
- Next I fasten the chest enclosure.
- Girth strap is next, or the belly straps, depending on the style.
- Hind leg straps are last. I’m a bit particular about I like them to cross in the back, I prefer to do left side to left side, right side to right side with them crossing in the middle. This seems to keep the straps away from the inner legs and reduces chaffing.
I remove the blanket in the reverse order! Some horses, for whatever reason, have some sort of fear or baggage about the blanketing process. In cases like these, going slow and using positive reinforcement are best. Often I will spend the extra few minutes to grab a friend or use the cross ties for help. Even with the horses that could probably blanket themselves, you will still get surprised when that mystery monster appears just as you are placing that blanket on!
How do you stay safe when blanketing your horse?