Last updated: March 21, 2023
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As a horse owner based in South Louisiana, I’m used to mild winters that don’t require much in the way of cold-weather tack. However, this winter has been anything but typical, with temperatures dipping lower than usual.
Unfortunately, our horses don’t have thick winter coats like those in colder climates to protect them from the elements. As someone who’s accustomed to using cooling sheets and lightweight turn-out blankets to keep my horses comfortable in hot weather, I’ve had to research and find the best winter blankets to keep them warm and healthy during this frigid cold spell.
In this blog post, I’ll be sharing everything I’ve learned about the best winter horse blankets and how to choose, fit, and care for them, so you and your equine friends can stay warm and comfortable this winter season.
The Importance of a Good Horse Blanket
As temperatures begin to drop, it’s crucial to ensure that your horse stays warm and comfortable during the winter months. Horses are naturally equipped to withstand cold weather, but extreme temperatures, wind, and precipitation can still pose a risk to their health and well-being.
A good winter horse blanket can be a lifesaver during the colder months, providing your horse with the extra insulation they need to stay warm and dry. Blankets are especially helpful for horses that are elderly, thin or have health issues that make them more susceptible to the cold.
As a horse owner used to dealing with hot weather gear like cooling sheets and lightweight turn-out blankets, I initially felt out of my element when it came to choosing the right winter horse blankets for my equine friends.
However, with a bit of research, I discovered that many of the same factors I consider when choosing warm weather gear – like material, weight, and breathability – also apply to winter horse blankets.
In fact, by finding the right balance of warmth and ventilation, a good winter horse blanket can be just as comfortable for your horse as a cooling sheet is on a hot summer day.
Types of Winter Horse Blankets
Winter horse blankets come in a variety of types, each with its own set of features, advantages, and disadvantages. In this section, we’ll explore the three main types of winter horse blankets: stable blankets, turnout blankets, and combination blankets.
A. Stable Blankets
Stable blankets are designed for indoor use and are perfect for horses that spend most of their time in a stall during the winter. These blankets are typically made of a heavier material than turnout blankets, as they don’t need to be as waterproof.
Stable blankets come in a variety of weights, from lightweight to heavyweight, and are available with or without fill. They’re also available in different sizes to fit horses of all shapes and sizes.
- Provide extra warmth and comfort for horses that spend a lot of time indoors.
- Come in a variety of weights and sizes to fit different horses
- It can be less expensive than turnout blankets
- Not designed to withstand outdoor weather conditions
- It may be too heavy for some horses, causing them to overheat.
- Require more frequent washing and cleaning.
B. Turnout Blankets
Horse turnout blankets are a popular option for horse owners looking to keep their horses warm and comfortable during the winter months. Turnout blankets are designed to be worn outdoors, providing protection from wind, rain, and snow.
When selecting a turnout blanket, it’s important to consider factors like the weight, material, and insulation of the blanket. Look for a blanket with a high fill weight and durable, waterproof outer material to provide maximum warmth and protection from the elements.
It’s also important to consider the fit and coverage of the turnout blanket. A properly fitting blanket should provide full coverage of the horse’s body without any gaps or areas that could allow for drafts or exposure.
Some turnout blankets also come with additional features like detachable neck covers or leg straps for added protection and stability. Be sure to choose a turnout blanket that has the features and design that will work best for your horse and your specific weather conditions.
- Provide excellent protection against harsh weather conditions
- Come in a variety of weights and sizes to fit different horses
- It can be more durable than stable blankets.
- It can be more expensive than stable blankets.
- It may be too heavy or restrictive for some horses.
- Require more maintenance to ensure waterproofing and breathability
C. Quarter Blankets
Quarter blankets cover only the hindquarters of the horse, providing targeted warmth where it’s needed most. These blankets can be a great option for horses that are prone to getting cold in their hindquarters, such as those with arthritis or other joint issues.
By keeping this area warm and protected, quarter blankets can help alleviate pain and stiffness, making it easier for your horse to move around comfortably during the winter months. One of the benefits of quarter blankets is that they can be used when riding.
While some quarter blankets are designed to be used with saddles and saddle pads, not all of them are suitable for riding. If you plan on using a quarter blanket while horseback riding in colder weather, it’s important to choose one that’s specifically designed for this purpose.
Look for a quarter blanket that allows for proper range of motion and a comfortable fit while wearing a saddle. By selecting the right quarter blanket, you can ensure that your horse stays warm and comfortable while riding in colder temperatures.
- Targeted warmth: Quarter blankets provide focused warmth to the hindquarters of the horse, which can be especially beneficial for horses with arthritis or other joint issues.
- Layering options: Quarter blankets can be used in combination with other types of horse blankets for added warmth and insulation.
- Comfortable fit: The cutout design of quarter blankets allows them to sit comfortably on the horse’s back without interfering with the saddle or restricting movement.
- Durability: Many quarter blankets are made with durable materials that can withstand the wear and tear of regular use.
- Limited coverage: Because they only cover the hindquarters, quarter blankets don’t provide all-over warmth and protection like other types of horse blankets.
- May not be suitable for all horses: Some horses may find the sensation of a quarter blanket uncomfortable or restrictive, so it’s important to introduce it gradually and monitor your horse’s behavior and movement.
- Added expense: While quarter blankets can be a useful addition to your winter horse gear, they do represent an additional expense compared to other types of blankets.
- May require additional care: Depending on the material and design of the quarter blanket, it may require special care or cleaning instructions.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Winter Horse Blanket
Choosing the right winter horse blanket can be a daunting task, with so many different options and factors to consider. Here are some of the most important factors to keep in mind when selecting a winter horse blanket:
Horse Size and Shape
The first factor to consider is your horse’s size and shape. Make sure to measure your horse from the center of its chest to the center of its tail and from the withers to the ground to ensure a proper fit. Some blankets are designed to fit certain breeds or body types better than others, so keep that in mind when making your selection.
Blanket Material and Insulation
The material and insulation of your horse’s blanket will play a big role in keeping them warm and comfortable during the winter. Look for blankets made of high-quality materials that are both durable and breathable. Common materials include nylon, polyester, and canvas. Insulation can range from no fill to heavyweight fill, depending on your horse’s needs and the climate in your area.
Blanket Weight and Fill
Blanket weight and fill are important considerations when choosing a winter horse blanket. The weight of the blanket will depend on your horse’s activity level, temperature, and climate. Choose a fill that’s appropriate for the temperature in your area and the warmth your horse needs. A heavyweight fill may be necessary for horses that spend a lot of time outside in very cold temperatures.
Waterproofing and Breathability
Waterproofing and breathability are key features to look for in a horse blanket. A waterproof blanket will keep your horse dry and comfortable in wet weather conditions. Breathability is important to prevent your horse from overheating or becoming too sweaty under its blanket.
Durability and Ease of Cleaning
Finally, consider the durability and ease of cleaning when choosing a winter horse blanket. Look for a blanket that’s well-constructed and can withstand wear and tear. Check the manufacturer’s care instructions to make sure the blanket is easy to clean and maintain.
By considering these factors, you’ll be able to choose the best winter horse blanket for your equine companion, keeping them warm and comfortable all winter long.
Top Picks for Best Winter Horse Blankets
When it comes to selecting the best winter horse blanket for your horse, there are countless options available. To help narrow down your search, we’ve selected our top picks for the best winter horse blankets based on customer reviews, quality, and overall performance.
The WeatherBeeta brand is a popular choice among horse owners for its high-quality, durable blankets. Their ComFiTec Ultra Cozi blanket features a 360g fill, a waterproof and breathable outer layer, and a removable neck cover for added protection. It also features reflective strips for added visibility, making it a great choice for horses that spend time outdoors.
- High-quality, durable construction
- Removable neck cover for added protection
- Reflective strips for added visibility
- Waterproof and breathable outer layer
- It may be too heavy for some horses
- It can be more expensive than other brands.
Horseware Ireland is another popular brand among horse owners, known for its high-quality, comfortable blankets. Their Amigo Bravo 12 turnout blanket features a 250g fill and a waterproof and breathable outer layer for added protection. The blanket is made of durable polyester material and features a shine-enhancing lining to keep your horse looking great.
- High-quality, comfortable construction
- Detachable neck cover for added protection
- Durable polyester material
- Microfiber lining for added comfort
- It may not be suitable for extremely cold temperatures
- It can be more expensive than other brands
As an avid horse owner myself, I can attest to the quality and ease of use of Horze’s winter horse blankets. The Glasgow Heavy Weight Waterproof Winter Turnout Horse Blanket is the one I personally own and use, and I am extremely satisfied with it. It features a 350g fill and a waterproof and breathable outer layer for added protection, as well as adjustable leg straps and a tail flap to keep it securely in place.
- Waterproof and breathable outer layer
- Adjustable leg straps and tail flap to keep the blanket securely in place
- Need to check your horse regularly to ensure it doesn’t overheat.
By considering the features and pros, and cons of each of these top picks, you’ll be able to choose the best winter horse blanket for your horse.
How to Properly Fit a Winter Horse Blanket
Once you have the right size blanket, it’s time to adjust it for a proper fit. Start by laying the blanket over your horse’s back and fastening the front buckles. The blanket should fit snugly against your horse’s chest but not be too tight.
Next, adjust the surcingles around your horse’s belly, making sure they’re not too loose or too tight. If the blanket has leg straps, attach them to your horse’s hind legs. The leg straps should be adjusted so that they’re not too tight but not too loose either.
Finally, adjust the neck cover if your blanket comes with one. Ensure the neck cover fits snugly against your horse’s neck but doesn’t restrict their movement or breathing.
Checking the Fit Regularly
It’s important to check your horse’s blanket fit regularly, especially if they’re growing or changing shape. If you notice the blanket starting to get too tight or too loose, adjust it as necessary. Look for any signs of rubbing or discomfort, and adjust the blanket to avoid any chafing or irritation.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to properly fit your horse’s winter blanket, ensuring they stay warm and comfortable throughout the winter season.
Maintenance and Care of Winter Horse Blankets
To ensure your horse’s winter blanket lasts for many seasons, it’s important to properly care for and maintain it. Here are some tips on how to care for your winter horse blanket:
Cleaning and Storing the Blanket
Cleaning your horse’s winter blanket regularly is essential to keep it in good condition. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions carefully when washing the blanket. Use a mild detergent, and avoid using fabric softener, bleach, or hot water. Once washed, hang the blanket up to dry completely before storing it.
When storing the blanket, make sure it’s completely dry and free of any debris. Store it in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or moisture. Consider using a blanket bag or container to protect the blanket from dust and pests.
B. Inspecting the Blanket for Wear and Tear
Regularly inspect your horse’s winter blanket for any signs of wear and tear. Look for any holes, tears, or loose stitching, and make note of any areas that need repair. Check the buckles, straps, and Velcro closures to make sure they’re still functioning properly. If you notice any damage, make sure to repair it promptly to prevent it from getting worse.
C. Repairing Blankets or Replacing Them When Necessary
If your horse’s winter blanket needs repair, consider whether it’s worth repairing or if it’s time to replace it. Small repairs, like patching a small hole or fixing a loose strap, can often be done at home. However, if the blanket has significant damage or is too old, it may be time to invest in a new one.
When shopping for a new winter horse blanket, consider the factors we discussed earlier, including your horse’s size and shape, the material and insulation, and the waterproofing and breathability. Look for a high-quality, durable blanket that will keep your horse warm and comfortable throughout the winter season.
By properly caring for and maintaining your horse’s winter blanket, you’ll be able to keep it in good condition and extend its lifespan for many seasons to come.
How to Layer Horse Blankets for Extra Warmth
When the weather gets extremely cold, layering horse blankets can provide additional warmth and protection for your equine friend. Here’s what you need to know about layering horse blankets:
When to Use Layering
Layering horse blankets is most effective during extremely cold temperatures or when your horse is clipped or has a thin coat. It’s important to remember that layering too many blankets can actually make your horse too hot, leading to discomfort or even health issues. So, layering should be done only when necessary and based on the weather conditions and your horse’s needs.
How to Layer Different Types of Blankets
When layering blankets, start with a thin, moisture-wicking blanket as the base layer. This will help keep your horse dry and prevent any moisture from getting trapped between the blankets. Next, add a thicker, heavier blanket on top of the base layer for added warmth.
If your horse needs even more warmth, you can add a third layer, but be careful not to overdo it. When layering different types of blankets, make sure they fit together properly and don’t bunch or shift around. Use the top blanket’s surcingles to secure all the layers together and prevent them from sliding around.
If you’re a western or southern cowboy, you may be familiar with the use of fly sheets during the warmer months to protect your horse from flies and other pests. But did you know that fly sheets can also be used as a layering option during the colder months?
Pros and Cons of Layering Blankets
The main benefit of layering horse blankets is the added warmth and protection it provides. This is especially important for horses in extremely cold climates or those with a thin coats. However, there are also some drawbacks to consider.
Layering can make your horse too hot, which can lead to sweating and dehydration. It can also be cumbersome and time-consuming to put on and take off multiple blankets.
Overall, layering horse blankets can be a helpful tool in keeping your horse warm and comfortable during the winter season. Still, it should be done with caution and based on the weather conditions and your horse’s individual needs.
Winter Health Issues for Horses: How Blankets Help
The winter season can be tough on horses, and it’s not uncommon for them to experience various health issues during this time. Here are some common winter health issues for horses and how blankets can help prevent and alleviate them:
Horses with respiratory issues, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), are especially susceptible to winter weather conditions. Cold temperatures, dry air, and dusty hay can all aggravate respiratory issues, making it difficult for horses to breathe. Wearing a properly fitting blanket can help keep your horse’s airways warm and prevent them from breathing in cold air or dust.
During the winter, horses may experience digestive issues, such as impaction colic, due to dehydration and lack of movement. Drinking enough water is essential for preventing impaction colic, and blankets can play a role in keeping horses hydrated. By keeping your horse warm and dry, blankets can help prevent sweating and water loss, allowing your horse to retain more fluids.
Arthritis and Joint Pain
Cold temperatures can worsen arthritis and joint pain in horses, leading to stiffness, discomfort, and reduced mobility. Blankets can help keep your horse’s joints warm and reduce inflammation, providing relief from arthritis symptoms. Additionally, blankets can help protect older horses from slips and falls, which can be especially dangerous during icy conditions.
Lack of Winter Coats
Horses naturally grow a winter coat to help protect them from the elements during the colder months. However, some horses may not grow a thick enough coat or may not grow a winter coat at all. In these cases, it’s important to provide your horse with the appropriate winter horse gear to help keep them warm and comfortable.
A good winter horse blanket can provide the warmth and insulation that your horse’s coat would normally provide, helping to regulate their body temperature and prevent them from getting too cold.
When choosing a winter horse blanket for a horse without a winter coat, it’s important to consider factors like the weight, material, and insulation of the blanket. Look for a blanket that’s specifically designed for colder temperatures and that has a high fill weight to provide maximum warmth.
It’s also important to monitor your horse’s body temperature and behavior when using a winter horse blanket, especially if they’re not used to wearing one. Check for signs of overheating or discomfort, and adjust the blanket as needed to provide the right level of warmth and ventilation.
Here is a good YouTube video showing how to put a winter blanket on a horse.
Other Winter Horse Gear to Consider
In addition to winter horse blankets, there are other winter tack accessories that can help keep your horse warm and comfortable during the colder months. Here are some other options to consider:
A. Neck Covers and Hoods
Neck covers and hoods are designed to provide extra warmth and protection for your horse’s neck and head. They can be especially useful for horses with thin coats or those that have been clipped. Neck covers and hoods come in different materials and weights, so choose one that’s appropriate for the weather conditions in your area.
B. Leg Wraps and Boots
Leg wraps and boots can help protect your horse’s legs from cold temperatures, mud, and snow. They can also provide additional support for horses with joint issues or injuries. When choosing leg wraps or boots, ensure they fit properly and are made from durable, waterproof materials.
C. Ear Covers and Fly Masks
Ear covers and fly masks can help protect your horse’s ears and eyes from cold winds, rain, and snow. They can also help keep insects away during the winter months. Choose ear covers and fly masks that fit your horse properly and are made from breathable materials.
D. How Winter Tack Keeps Your Horse Warm and Comfortable During the Winter
By combining winter blankets with other tack like neck covers, leg wraps, and ear covers, you can provide your horse with the ultimate protection against the cold and other weather-related issues.
These stable supplies can help keep your horse warm, dry, and comfortable and prevent common winter health issues like respiratory problems, arthritis, and joint pain. Consider investing in a variety of winter horse tack to give your horse the best possible care during the colder months.
As we come to the end of this article, let’s recap the importance of keeping horses warm during the winter months. Harsh weather conditions, including extreme temperatures and precipitation, can pose a risk to your horse’s health and well-being. A good winter horse blanket is a crucial tool to help protect your horse from the elements and keep them warm and comfortable.
When choosing a horse blanket, consider factors like your horse’s size and shape, the material and insulation, and the waterproofing and breathability. And once you’ve selected a blanket, make sure to properly care for and maintain it to extend its lifespan and ensure it stays in good condition.
We hope this article has provided you with helpful tips and information to choose the best winter horse blanket for your equine companion. If you found this article useful, please share it with other horse owners who may benefit from this information.
Remember, by properly preparing your horse for winter with a good quality blanket, you’ll be able to keep them healthy and comfortable all season long. Happy winter riding.
How often should I wash my horse’s blanket?
It’s important to wash your horse’s winter blanket regularly. How often you wash the blanket depends on how often your horse wears it and how dirty it gets. A good rule of thumb is to wash the blanket every two to four weeks or whenever it gets visibly dirty or smelly.
How do I know if my horse is too cold or too hot under their blanket?
Check your horse’s body temperature by feeling its ears, chest, and underbelly. Signs of overheating include sweating and a rapid heart rate, while shivering and a slow heart rate indicates being too cold. Adjust the blanket based on your horse’s needs and weather conditions.
Can I use a human blanket on my horse in a pinch?
Using a human blanket on your horse is not recommended. Human blankets are not designed for horses and may not provide the necessary warmth, protection, or fit. Additionally, human blankets may not be durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of horse use and may be difficult to clean.
Meet Miles Henry
An avid equestrian and seasoned racehorse owner, Miles Henry brings his extensive experience to the equine world, proudly associating with the AQHA, The Jockey Club, and various other equine organizations. Beyond the racetrack, Miles is an accomplished author, having published various books about horses, and is a recognized authority in the field, with his work cited in multiple publications.
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