California cool is what our winter months bring us. Warm days and cold, sometimes frosty, nights and mornings along with bouts of rain and mud defines our Central Coast winter weather. This poses a few challenges to the way we care for our horses. Horse blanket options for our equine friends is something we must consider.
Many of us body clip our horses, which makes a good winter blanket necessary, but even the unclipped horse who is not stabled will appreciate some help with keeping warm and dry during a heavy rain.
My horse was a princess when it came to wet and cold weather; she would bang on her gate if not blanketed when the first drops of water began to fall from the sky. She was never clipped, yet still demanded her blanket when the temperatures dropped. I’m sure that we all know a few horses who, despite having indoor areas or covers, still enjoy standing outside in the rain, so a winter blanket can keep those coats dry and help to avoid things like rain rot and other skin conditions.
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Hot New Horse Blanket Features
We asked Brie at Riding Warehouse to help us with up-to-date horse blanket information, and, as usual, she had some great things to share. Let’s first consider some new horse blanket features. Some brands have come out with some handy features over the years.
Comfortable for High-Withered Horses
“One of the issues I have experienced on certain horses is that the blanket rests right on, or just behind the withers, applying uncomfortable pressure. Horseware’s ‘Wug’ design alleviates this issue as it sits higher up on the neck. This design is especially helpful for narrow or high-withered horses,” responded Brie.
“Shoulder gussets are also crucial to ensure that your horse’s freedom of movement isn’t compromised. Many companies play with this feature by moving the gusset’s position and creating leg arches. Overall, these features are an improvement to blankets as they improve fit and comfort. Shoulder rubs can be a thing of the past!” The Weatherbeeta ComFiTec has shoulder gussets and really fun designs.
Wet But Not Too Cold Out – A Horse Blanket Perfect for the Central Coast
For those days when it’s wet, but not too cold, there have been some great innovations to keep our horses comfortable. “The Big D Sussex Lite Waterproof Blanket blanket features smooth interior seams with wide shoulder gussets to provide snug comfort without lumps or bumps to rub off shoulder hair. To prevent sagging, velcro closures and double logo buckles keep the blanket right where it’s supposed to be while fleece lining at the withers provides cushioning and shields against hair loss from rubbing. With waterproof DuPont™ Teflon® fabric protection to repel the worst elements, the material is still breathable so your horse can run, buck, and play while remaining comfortable and cool! ”
Consider the Level of Warmth Necessary
Not all blankets are created equal when it comes to warmth. The degree of temperature protection can be wide-spread, and is dependent on the grams of fill. Brie explained this in more detail. “For warmth, you want to look at the number of grams of fill. On the central coast, typically a lightweight or medium weight waterproof turnout blanket is just fine. However, if you body clip in the winter, you may need something with more fill. We have several blankets that are both warm and waterproof in many price ranges so you can take your pick!”
Got A Horse Who’s Hard On Blankets?
Horses can be destructive; they break fences, they bite and kick each other, and they wear out blankets. What options are there for a hardy blanket? Brie suggests, “The first thing I look for when looking for a blanket that is especially tough and resistant to rips and tears is one that has a high denier. The higher the denier, the tougher the outer shell. For older, gentler horses or those turned out alone, this isn’t as important. Weatherbeeta’s ComFiTec UltraTough II Blankets are made to withstand the most playful and destructive horses as well; the triple weave outer shell is particularly strong for a 1200 denier blanket. It is also cut to be more fitted, which prevents shifting and rubbing, prolonging the life of the blanket and ensuring that it stays in place.”
Rain Sheets to Keep Dry
Not all horse blankets need to be warm. Some horses, like ones who have access to a stable, may just need help staying dry when standing out from under the shelter.
This is where a rain sheet is needed. “A rain sheet is essentially a waterproof sheet with zero grams of fill. However, even just a layer of material does keep your horse a bit warmer even if there is no fill. Keep this that in mind, as you will still want to pull the sheet off during the day if it is warm. Rain sheets are common here on the central coast as our winters tend to be mild but wet. Wet hair prevents the vital air flow that fluffs up the horse’s coat to provide warmth.
Even if you provide a wonderful shelter, many horses still seem to want to stand outside. Simply look for a blanket that is waterproof and has 0 grams of fill,” Brie suggests.
Let It Rain! Your Horse Can Be Warm and Dry
Brie had a few more thoughts to help our horses enjoy the anticipated wetness, “A good fitting waterproof blanket and access to a good shelter with dry footing (although they may choose not to use it) is definitely the key to keeping your horse comfortable in the rain. Be sure that the blanket is well cared for and relatively clean throughout the season to ensure that it is comfortable for your horse to wear long-term. Riding Warehouse carries a blanket wash product from Nikwax, and also a waterproofing spray from Dry Guy.”
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