If you’re anything like me, when that little storm last week blew into SLO County, you were probably reminded that it was time to pull out your horse’s winter blankets and rain sheets. I know that the very next day, I went to the barn and pulled all of my blankets out of their bags and began to take inventory of what I had, what needed to be washed, what needed to be repaired, and what needed to be replaced all together. This is one of the horseman’s rituals, and it’s better to get a head start on these things than to end up behind.
So, what do you need to know? Well, this year, forecast predictions seem to be all over the place. Some say that we are going to have a dry year, while others swear that we’re in for some heavy storms. Either way, it’s a good idea to prepare your horse’s “winter wardrobe” now. I’m going to go through a few things that will be helpful as a general checklist, and then I’m going to introduce some really great new products out on the market that may make your horse’s “Christmas blanket wish-list”.
Washed and Ready
Some of us choose to wash our blankets at the end of rainy season – i.e. the Spring – before packing them away for the year, while other prefer to launder their horse’s gear right before it’s time to use it – to avoid that “I’ve been packed away in a bag for six months” scent. So, when you’re unpacking your blankets, whether they have been pre-laundered or not, make sure to have a good look at them. Be sure that there are no spiders taking up residence in the lining, or that the mice haven’t decided to chew holes in the fabric; there’s nothing worse than needing your blanket, pulling it out in a torrential downpour and finding that it is in disrepair. If you haven’t already laundered, it’s a good idea to do so now. Some of us just make a midnight run to the local quarter laundry mat, but if that’s not your style, there are services in the area that can help. Consider “Pat Wilson Cleaning and Repair”.
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Repair as Necessary
If your horses are anything like mine, it’s tough to get through an entire blanket season without something getting broken or damaged. It seems as though, aside from rubs and tears, the number one thing to go are those pesky let straps. I like to keep an extra set in the tack trunk as a precaution; having replacement leg straps on hand can be a lifesaver. You will want to check all of those buckles and straps to make sure that they are in working order.
Here’s a little tip that has saved me a lot of heartache and money… If your favorite blanket happens to be one where the front buckles are not permanently integrated, but are, rather, straps that go through holes, those pesky little things get lost quite easily. If you find yourself without your front blanket straps, just go down to the local pet shop and get a couple of the cheapest, thin, nylon dog collars that they have, and you’re set!
There’s nothing worse than having a great winter blanket or rain sheet that you actually paid good money for and then finding that your horse and ripped a small (or maybe large) hole in it, rendering its waterproof qualities useless. Well, fear not, get yourself some Horseware Stormsure Waterproof Repair and you’re good to go! No more tossing perfectly good blankets just because they have a few weathered areas. Along these same lines, after a few seasons, even a blanket that is fully in tact can lose some of its waterproof quality, and instead of buying a new blanket, just get yourself some Dry Guy Horse Blanket Spray and you’ll be set!
Inevitably, some of us are going to find that there is just no salvaging last year’s blankets. This means that we’re going to be on the hunt for something new. Depending upon your horse’s situation, there are basically two type of blankets that most people need – the waterproof turn-out (for those pastured horses, or horses who have access to the outside) and the stable blanket (for horses who stay inside and typically need warmer “clothes”). There are a lot of great new options on the market, and there’s nothing more fun than hopping onto the Riding Warehouse website and seeing what’s new this year. Here are a couple of our favorites:
- Weatherbeeta ComFiTec Essential Standard Blanket 200G. This is a great option for those horses that need a comfortable, waterproof turn-out blanket that isn’t going to rub, is tough, and will provide great protection without causing overheating. Weatherbeeta is tough to beat when it comes to quality, durability and price!
- The Tough 1 1200D Waterproof Turnout Blanket 200G. Another useful option for those horses that need a little bit of extra warmth or protection, have show coats, body clips, etc. This blanket features a “Snuggit” neck, which allows for customized fit, shoulder gussets and a breathable liner. Check it out if you’re looking for something “Tough”
Nobody really knows what we’re in store for here on the Central Coast this winter, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to having the proper “winter wear” for your horse. If you get everything ready or purchased now, it will save you time, energy, money and stress when that first big storm of the season hits – because you don’t want to be down at the local feed store trying to buy a blanket in the rain!
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