Cold Weather Tips: Choosing a Horse Blanket

As fall and winter approach and the weather turns cooler, there are many barn preparations you must make for cold weather.  One such preparation is making sure you have blankets available for your horse. Leaving the blanket off as cool weather approaches will let your horse grow a thick, warm coat, but it doesn’t hurt to have those blankets ready for when you really need them.

Finding the right horse blanket for winter involves understanding what your horse truly needs:

  • Are you looking for a turnout blanket or a stable blanket?
  • Do you need a lightweight blanket or a heavyweight blanket?
  • Is your horse body-clipped? Is she an older horse? How is her health?

Some horse owners automatically  blanket their horse before the last leaf falls. Blanketing can be a good way to protect a horse that has been clipped, doesn’t have access to a windbreak, has been moved to a colder climate, or is old or ill. Other horses will benefit more by not wearing a blanket and allowing their own natural coats to protect them. Modern horse blankets are warmer, but lighter in weight, thanks to advanced insulation and shell materials.

Here are some tips when choosing and fitting a horse blanket:

  • Don’t let a horse get too warm with a horse blanket, as this can lead to sweat, chills and illness, including pneumonia
  • Make certain the blanket fits the horse appropriately: A blanket that is too tight can cause skin irritations. If a horse blanket is too loose then there is a risk that the blanket will slide around and dangle on the horse’s belly. If this happens there is also a risk that the horse’s legs might get tangled in the straps of the horse blanket potentially causing serious injury.
  • The horse blanket should be placed on the horse up near the neck and slid down toward the rear of the horse.
  • Blankets should not be shared among different horses unless the blanket has been thoroughly cleaned. Sharing blanket between two horses can cause skin infections that take time to heal properly.
  • It is best to follow cleaning directions on the blanket, but when in doubt, clean a horse blanket in cold water as this will help remove odors from the blanket. Cleaning a horse blanket at least twice a year is recommended.

When blanketing a horse, monitor your horse for signs of discomfort or excessive body heat. Consider a medium-weight blanket if this is your first time blanketing a horse or if you can only afford one blanket.

Contributed by Dover Saddlery. Dover Saddlery is a leading retailer of tack, horse care supplies, and equestrian apparel for English riders. 

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