The average horse has two things going for him - a nice layer of fat under his skin for insulation and a naturally thick coat to trap and retain heat. Your natural horse is built for outdoor living and, left to his own devices, can be reasonably comfortable in a wide range of conditions. There are several factors to think about when considering the comfort of the equine athletes under your care, and there is a wide range of products to help you take good care of them.

When to Blanket Your Horse

Horses are individuals, just like we are, and each one will have his needs, quirks, and preferences. That’s why the decision to blanket can sometimes seem complicated. A thin-skinned Thoroughbred may prefer an extra layer, while a rugged draft may not. Likewise, his feed will factor into how hot his system is running. Bottom line: only you can decide what is right for your horse, but here are some general guidelines to take into consideration:

  • Your horse has a full body clip: A horse without his natural coat may be uncomfortable when the temperature drops below 50 degrees F. Some horses are sensitive and may shiver even in relatively mild or breezy conditions. Beware of over-blanketing. During seasonal changes when the daytime temperature fluctuates, a light sweat under the blanket will do more harm than good. We check all our horses throughout the day, particularly in spring and fall, to ensure they are not getting too warm. If you run your hand under the blanket and feel heat or dampness, remove the blanket immediately or switch to a lighter one. If you are not around to monitor conditions, err on the side of leaving him a little too cool in the morning rather than running the risk of him becoming too warm later in the day.

  • Rain is in the forecast: When your horse’s coat is wet, its natural insulation power is greatly reduced, and he runs a much greater chance of becoming chilled. A blanket can help protect him from the elements, especially if he does not have access to a run-in shed or barn. Resist the urge to run out and blanket him after it starts raining! Trapping a wet coat under a blanket will only increase his chill. Bring him inside and make sure he is dry before applying a blanket.

  • Your horse has not been acclimated to your weather: If your horse has recently moved to a cooler location (from Florida to New England, for example), he may benefit from an extra layer of insulation while he gets used to his new environment, particularly if he has been clipped recently.

  • Your horse is old or very young or is in poor health: Several factors can keep a horse from adequately regulating his body temperature. A horse will often shiver to help keep himself warm, but the action of shivering requires extra metabolic energy. If your horse has a medical condition or is underweight, a blanket may help reduce the amount of energy he has to expend to stay comfortable.

Blanket Warmth and Temperature

All Blankets come in various weights, meaning the amount of fill material used as insulation. You can think of this like you would your comforter at home. Maybe you have a light blanket without much substance for the summer and a thicker comforter in the winter with a lot of polyfill inside. When it comes to horse blankets, a Horse Sheet has no insulation; a lightweight blanket may only have 80 – 180 grams of insulation. A medium weight, or mid-weight, usually has between 200 and 300 grams of fill, while heavyweight blankets have between 380-440 grams. An extra-heavy weight stable blanket has 500 grams.

As a general guide at Schneiders, we recommend using a waterproof turnout sheet with no insulation when the temperature is between 50°F - 65°F if your horse is clipped, or as needed if they have a full coat, to at least protect from the wind and rain during poor conditions. This will keep your horse dry and warm. A lightweight blanket (approximately 80-120 grams of fill), is suitable when temperatures are between 40°F - 60°F if your horse is clipped or 30°F - 50°F if they have a full coat. A mid-weight (approximately 200 – 300 grams) is a good choice when it is between 35°F - 50°F for a clipped horse or 30°F - 45°F with a full coat. Heavyweight blankets (over 380 grams) are a great way to keep your horses nice and toasty when temperatures drop below 20°F - 40°F when clipped or 15°F - 30°F with a full coat. Use the handy chart below to help determine which blanket weight is right for your horse.

Temperature Guide for Blanketing Horses

Liners can be layered on with another horse blanket when you have a short period of colder than expected temperatures. Liners come in 180-280 grams and are available in horse and pony sizes. Just layer any liner in combination to turn a sheet into a lightweight blanket, a lightweight into a midweight, a midweight into a heavyweight, or a heavyweight into an extra heavy blanket.

Stable Blankets vs. Turnout Blankets

Stable Blankets

Designed for indoor use only, breathable Stable Blankets add a nice layer of warmth for clipped or short-haired horses who are standing in the stall overnight or being trailered between locations. They can help keep underweight horses from expending extra energy to stay warm and are useful in providing therapeutic warmth between rides or overnight for horses who tend to start stiff or achy. Stable blankets are not waterproof but may have water-resistant properties to help keep them cleaner in the stall. They come in a range of weights.

Turnout Blankets

Worn outdoors to protect your horse from cold or rainy conditions, Turnout Blankets are waterproof and designed to stand up to rough play and a wider range of movement than a stable blanket. They come in several weights and sizes to provide your horse's comfort and dryness. Blanket fit is especially important for a blanket designed to be worn outdoors, so make sure to select a blanket best fitted to your horse’s shape.

How to Measure a Horse for a Blanket

The most accurate and easiest way to determine your horse’s blanket size is to measure along the side of their body, from chest to tail. First, stand the horse square on a flat surface. Measure from the center of the chest, straight back to the very edge of the tail. Make sure to measure along the widest part of their shoulder and hindquarters. The number of inches measured in this way is your horse’s size. Look on the size chart for any Schneiders blanket for this number of inches to order your horse’s perfect size. Please note: Pony turnouts are usually stated in Euro sizing.

35-36 = 36
37-38 = 38
39-40 = 40
41-42 = 42
43-44 = 44
45-46 = 46
47-48 = 48
49-50 = 50
51-52 = 52
53-56 = 55/56
57-58 = 58
59-61 = 60/61
61-62 = 62
63-64 = 64

Size Chart Guide for Horse Blankets

Choosing the Best Fitting Blanket

The size and fit of your turnout blanket are important for several reasons. First, because your horse will be wearing this blanket for hours at a time, make sure it conforms to his shape so that movement is not restricted. Second, identify stress points that might rub skin or cause sores. Finally, look for fasteners that are easy to adjust and provide a secure all-day fit.

See our Blanket Fit Guide for more details.

Horse Blanket Durability 101

Toughest Durability Hard Play

Toughest Durability Hard Play

If your horse is very active and prone to destroying blankets, or if you are turning your horse out in a field in wet weather with other horses who play rough, our ARMORFlex® Warrior line fits your needs with our highest denier outer fabric and our highest level of waterproofing; ARMORFlex® Warrior waterproofing is 5x more than competitive brands and comes with a lifetime Warranty so that you can be assured of total protection. Our StormShield® Nordlund line is also designed for Hard Play and is protected by a 10-year Warranty.

Tougher Durability Playful

Tougher Durability Playful

If your horse is turned out in a herd but plays normally, our ARMORFlex® Challenger line is durable enough for your needs. This line of blankets is 5x more waterproof than competitive brands and comes with a 5-year warranty. Our StormShield® Contour collar Extreme line will also hold up well in this situation and is covered by a 2-year warranty, or our Dura-Tech® Viking Extreme will be effective, but without the protection of a warranty.

Tough Durability Light Play

Tough Durability Light Play

If your horse is turned out alone or you intend to replace blankets more frequently, our StormShield® Classic Contour collar or our StormShield® Blizzard turnout blankets are great choices. These blankets come with a 1-year warranty and are designed for good durability. Alternatively, our Dura-Tech® Viking blankets will be effective without a warranty.

The durability of Stable Blankets depends only upon the horse's personality, as these blankets are used when the horse is alone in their stall. If your horse generally tends towards mischief, or if you want your blanket to last forever, our 1200D Stable Blanket line is a good choice. This line of Stable Blankets is made with a more durable outer layer and is backed by our Lifetime Warranty. Otherwise, our 420D Stable Blankets, which come with a 2-year Warranty, should fit your needs.

Parts of a Horse Blanket

Parts of a Horse Blanket

  1. Neck Cover: Add extra protection from the elements with a detachable neck cover. Our turnout neck covers attach with four carabiner clips.

  2. Front Closure: Closed Front blankets slip over the horse’s head; open Front blankets are more adjustable and come in two types: Double Buckle have two simple buckles, or Double Snap have buckled adjustments with easy on-off snaps.

  3. D-Rings: The D-rings around the neck of our blankets are made to attach to the blanket’s matching neck cover.

  4. Shoulder Gusset: Allow for greater freedom of movement for the shoulder to prevent rubbing.

  5. Adjusta-Fit®: Customize the neck opening of your blanket to fit any width horse.

  6. Drop: The drops of our blankets are graded to the size blanket, but our blanket fits also over different drop lengths to accommodate your horse’s shape.

  7. Belly Closure: Our Bellyband closure offers additional warmth and coverage or our Surcingle closure keeps the blanket in place more securely.

  8. Tail Cover: The tail covers on our turnout blankets add rear protection from wind and rain and are either sewn on or detachable.

Closed Front vs. Open Front Horse Blankets

Horse Blanket Front Closures

Blankets are available with either a closed front or an open front. Closed front blankets are sewn together at the chest, so the front of the blanket lays flat. With Closed front blankets, the neck-hole must be slipped over the horse’s head when dressing, so they are perfect for calm horses who are not too tall. These blankets are also great for layering as there is no extra bulk or seams to rub against the chest.

Open front blankets have a set of buckles or clips at the chest which open for dressing. These blankets are easier to use for tall horses or those requiring more chest area adjustment to deal with unusual width.

Bellyband vs. Surcingles Horse Blankets

Horse Blanket Belly Closures

Schneiders blankets are also available with either bellyband closures for additional warmth or surcingle straps to keep the blanket from turning when the horse rolls or plays in turnout. Bellyband closure blankets also have hardware positioned to avoid poking the horse while he’s lying down.

Proper use of Elastic Leg Straps on Horse Blankets

Horse Blanket Leg Straps

Most blankets also include leg straps to keep the blanket from flapping up on windy days and to help keep the blanket in place while the horse is playing or rolling. Leg straps should be hooked around each leg but linked through each other between the back legs and adjusted so that they are not hanging where the horse can catch a leg through the strap.

How to Safely put on and off a Horse Blanket

If your horse were to break loose or spook while you are dressing him, a half-fastened blanket is less likely to cause harm if its front is fastened, simply because horses generally bolt forward, and the front closure will keep the blanket from flapping up and gathering in front of the horse’s hind legs, further scaring the horse by acting like a bucking strap. Therefore, it is always safest to fasten closures from front to back when putting on a horse blanket. For the same reason, work from back to front when removing a horse blanket, unfastening the leg and belly straps before the chest closure.

How to Put On a Horse Blanket

How to Wash and Repair Your Horse Blankets

Properly caring for your blankets will help extend the blanket's life, keep your horse clean and warm, and allow your waterproof blankets to protect your horse from the weather. Because turnout blankets are coated with waterproofing which can be stripped from the fabric if blankets are washed incorrectly, it is important to follow the care instructions included with the blanket. The best time to clean your blankets is at the end of the winter season so that you can put them into storage clean. There are several strategies for cleaning blankets.

Washing Machine Washing stable blankets, coolers, sheets, and turnout blankets in a specially designed detergent will prolong the life of your blankets by keeping the fabrics clean, breathable, and waterproof. Light and mediumweight blankets will usually fit into a standard machine. For heavier blankets, it will be necessary to have a washing machine with an oversized tub. Some commercial laundromats will allow blanket washing in their machines, but make sure you ask permission first.

Pressure Washing You can wash blankets at home by using your pressure washer with a soap attachment. Use blanket wash designed especially for horse blankets. It’s best to clean your blankets at the end of the winter season so that you can put them into storage fresh and clean.

Schneiders Blanket Cleaning Service Alternatively, we offer a blanket cleaning service where dirty blankets can be dropped off at our store in Chagrin Falls, OH, and can be picked up after cleaning. This service is great if your washing machine is too small for your blankets, if your local laundromat does not allow horse blankets to be washed in their machines, or if you would rather have someone else deal with the washing.

Local Blanket Cleaning Service If you live outside of Northeast Ohio, check for a blanket washing service in your local area. Most blanket washing services also offer simple repairs for small tears or broken straps.

See our Guide to Care for Horse Blankets for more details.

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