How on earth do I know what type of blanket to buy for my horse?
This once confusing shopping spree will now be a piece of cake for you! I have translated all of the crazy blanket jargon and lingo into a handy list for you. And, if all else fails, just buy one of everything in all of your favorite colors.
Anti-Sweat Sheets. These sheets are designed to help get pull moisture from your horse. They can be scrim sheets, irish knits, fleece coolers, or wool coolers.
- Scrim sheets are the thinnest, and most commonly used to protect horses and tack from dust and flies at shows, although many people use them at home, too.
A scrim sheet "in action"
Close up of a scrim sheet. And also a wonderful tail braid.
- Irish knits are cotton sheets with a large weave, great for use in the summer after your horse has a bath. They work to soak moisture away from your horse, but if your horse is saturated, the knit may become saturated itself and not do much more. This is why summertime use is best, in the winter it would just allow the moisture to stay against your horse.
An irish knit's weave. Airy! Not so good for winter.
- Coolers (wool and fleece) are excellent at wicking moisture from your horse, and therefore super in the winter, your horse stays warm under the cooler as he dries.
Quarter sheets are like bibs that your horse wears over his rump while you ride. This helps him stay warm as you groom, keeps the chill away as you do your warm up walking, and helps him cool down after a ride as well. The beauty of a quarter sheet is the fit, designed to be used while you are in the saddle. Quarter sheets come in just about every fabric imaginable, including fleece and waterproof materials for rainy days.
This quarter sheet is a bit modified so your horse can wear it without you in the saddle, and not get shoulder rubs. The "arms" of the quarter sheet wrap around the rider to stay put when you are up there. Also good for keeping your thighs warm.
Rain sheets are just that - thin waterproof sheets that may or may not have a liner, and definitely don’t have any fill. Some of the “fancier” models can cover your horse from ears to tail, some rain sheets are designed to cover your saddle but have holes for the stirrups to come through, some models of rain sheet are similar to a plain blanket.
This high necked rain sheet is doing it's job nicely!
Next on the shopping list is the stable blanket. These guys are NOT waterproof by any stretch of the imagination. The fabric is also typically soft, and therefore not suitable for outside wear, shenanigans, or horses that have a tendency to “do things” to their blankets. Stable blankets usually have less straps and buckles, and therefore a horse doing acrobatics in one of these will typically rearrange their stable blanket.
Turn out blankets or sheets are designed to be a little tougher, they have an outside shell and an inner liner, holding a lot or a little bit of comfy and warm fill. As they are designed for outdoor use, they are also snugly fitted, with loads of snaps and buckles for a perfect and less likely to rearrange fit.
Matchy matchy turnout blankets. Extra straps, reflective bums, and super tough exterior for outside life.
It should be noted that any time your horse is outside and wearing a blanket, it should be waterproof JUST IN CASE. On those lines, it’s totally acceptable to have your horse dressed in a turnout while he’s inside or outside the barn, but keep the stable blankets for inside use only.
Many fancy things to consider!
When you are shopping for blankets- a few things to look at. Denier is a technical fabric industry number, just know that the higher the number (up to 2100), the more water and wind and weather proof it is. Fill is how many grams of fluffy warmth, from 100 to 400 g. Think 400g for an actual northern winter, think 100 g for a south Florida winter. (Of course factoring in your horse’s actual hair coat and climate, too.) Learn more about these fascinating numbers here, in Blanketing 101.
Also of note on this topic - Accessories and styles. Some blankets have neck pieces for those particularly horrid days, others have belly bands to keep naked bellies warm, and also help with stain repelling if your horse finds manure to be a handy pillow. Some blankets have a higher cut up the neck, which may reduce mane rubbing. Be sure to measure for a good fit, and then make sure the style of blanket and cut of the gussets allow your horse to move and lay down easily. More on those topics here!
So now you are the expert - what types of blankets do you love for your horse?