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post #1 of 11 Old 10-17-2015, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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How to choose blankets?

Yes, it's me again, the newbie with all the questions! As some of you know, I've just bought a lovely arabian gelding for my daughter (see avatar). Harley is an easy keeper and has always been kept outdoors without a blanket. His previous owners preferred to let him grow out a long coat to deal with our harsh Canadian winters. I tend to agree with this approach.

He is currently boarded and will be brought in at night once the cold weather arrives.

So, keeping that in mind, I still feel he needs a) a cooling sheet, and b) a rain sheet. The cooling sheet is a no-brainer, but I wonder what your thoughts are on the best ones. I am thinking a fitted one would be best. What do you look for in a good cooling sheet? And yes, I know how to measure the horse.

My rationale for the rain sheet is that while I want to let his coat grow out, being very wet for long periods of time when it's cold out seems like a bad idea. Tonight, for example, there is a very cold rain/wet snow coming down and the temperature is right around freezing. I brought him in around 5 pm and decided to keep him in for the night since most other boarders had done the same. Things like freezing rain are a common occurrence here and can chill you to the bone. It's worse than a cold, dry day.

So what should I look for in a light rain blanket that will only be used occasionally? Looking forward to reading your advice!
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post #2 of 11 Old 10-17-2015, 08:52 PM
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I think this article is pretty on point - Horse Blanketing Questions and Answers from EQUUS Magazine | EQUUS Magazine

I think your idea for a cooling sheet is a good one. I've never delved into that area of things myself, so I can't recommend one. I should probably get one "just in case" though so I'll be watching what others have to say!


As far as the rain sheet goes, I hesitate to agree with you. [does he have shelter in his turnout/pasture area?]
Yes, being wet and cold is a bad combo. Yes, if he were mine, I would want to provide protection too. Yes, a blanket is a good idea.
BUT.
The thing that keeps a horse warm in cold temperatures is primarily the loft of their hair. Heat generated from digestion plays a role too, but hair loft is a biggie - it's why wet horses have a hard time staying warm, wet hair can't loft!
What happens when you put a blanket/covering on top of lofted hair? The hair is weighed down and potentially/probably loses a portion [if not all] of its lofting potential.
Therefore, because you are removing hair loft from your horse by putting a blanket on him, it's important to replace that missing loft with blanket fill. A rain sheet, without fill, won't replace hair loft. It will smoosh down the hair in various areas without replacing that heat loss.

In my opinion, you should choose a heavier weight waterproof blanket if your plan is to use it when temperatures are near freezing, or below. You need to choose a blanket with more fill to replace the hair loft he looses by having a blanket on. Basically you're taking his hair-abilities away, so you need to replace that hair somehow. More fill means more replaced hair.

A thicker blanket also has the side benefit of not getting soaking wet as fast - I have a selection of rain sheets and I have yet to meet one that is truly waterPROOF. They seem to tend towards being water resistant which is great...until it's 35*F and your horse has been standing out in the rain for 12 hours, his blanket is soaked through, he's totally wet, he's shivering, and you feel like a real jerk.
At least with a heavier blanket, you have an extra safeguard against the blanket getting soaked through [plus he'll be warmer and happier!].

You will get a lot of varying opinions about rainsheet or not. Some think a rainsheet is just fine no matter the temperature if your horse has a good winter coat. And that's just fine, to each his own.
I just know that in the wet state of Oregon, a rainsheet at near freezing temperatures does not ever cut it.


I have a variety of blankets for my gelding [mostly inherited from my last horse because, luckily, they wear the same size! ]. He rarely sees any of them, of course, because [unlike my last elderly horse] he spends most of his time being too fat and not caring about the weather.

However, when he does start caring about the weather, I have one of these and really like it a lot: Tough-1 600 Denier Turnout Blanket - Horse.com
I had always avoided Tough-1 in the past because I thought they were cheap junk, but I have been really impressed with the fit, details, and craftsmanship of this blanket. It's, for the most part, much better than the Weatherbeetas I used to only ever buy!
I also have a 400g Pessoa blanket [talk about fancyyyyy] for his heavyweight blanket and, despite being over 5 years old, that thing has zero signs of age. But it was well over $200 new [I got it during a clearance sale for 60% off!] so I'd hope it was built to last!


Good luck! Blanketing can be really tricky, but rewarding!

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

~
Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #3 of 11 Old 10-17-2015, 11:28 PM
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I'm someone who also does not like to blanket, but I do use the same two types that you are asking about.

A cooler is extremely useful. I use it the most after a ride where the horse has sweated and it will take awhile to dry out her long winter coat. I also use it when I misjudge the weather and find a shivering horse...it helps the horse warm up and dry out quickly. Fleece coolers do not have to be any particular brand and sometimes you can get them on sale for only $25. I use the type that does not go all the way up the neck, but either kind works well.

Horses do extremely well with cold temperatures as long as it is dry. They also do fine if it is wet and not too cold. Where my horses have problems is when it is rainy and the temperature is either near freezing or it is very windy, which blows the heat away from their body.
If you buy a rain sheet with no filler at all, it is light enough for the horses to fluff their hair up underneath. Rain sheets keep horses dry, and that means they can stay warm. I prefer sheets rather than blankets with filler, because I've always found the issue to be a wet horse rather than a cold temperature. Also, if the temperature fluctuates during the day, horses do not get too warm under a sheet.

I ALWAYS buy a sheet that is 1200 denier or more. The denier is the toughness of the sheet, and if it is at least 1200 denier it will last much longer. Otherwise, one bite from another horse will rip a hole in your sheet.

My favorite go-to for blankets is Horse Supplies, Horse Tack, Horse Sheets, Fly Sheets and much more from Schneider Saddlery. Their prices are reasonable, the sheets are highly rated, and I've had my current Stormshield brand rain sheets for three years and they're still intact. They also have different sheets made for different types of anatomy such as high withers and high neck set. I've found the belly band ones work well for my horses since they never come unfastened when they are galloping around.
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post #4 of 11 Old 10-18-2015, 08:18 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Wallaby and gottatrot! To answer your question Wallaby, no, he does not have a proper shelter in his paddock. A few trees, but not enough to reliably keep him dry. I do understand what you're saying about horses puffing up their coats to stay warm, but I want to avoid something too heavy because I am not confident that the BO will be taking it on and off at the right times. It's likely he would end up wearing it all day even if the rain stopped and the temperature warmed up during the day and then he would get hot and sweaty. Like when I send the kids to school with heavy coats and it turns out to be a warm sunny afternoon (where's the emoticon for "stinky"?).

gottatrot - I noticed fleece blankets are popular as cooling sheets. The purpose of this sheet, as you point out, is to ensure he is cooled down gradually on colder days. When I had my last horse (30 some years ago yikes!), I just had a big wool blanket. The selection of blankets now is considerably larger! So does anyone like fleece and why? Wouldn't it be bulkier than a thin sheet? How does this affect washing it? Fleece tends to attract hair, etc., so I am picturing a very hairy blanket that would make a mess in the washing machine! Maybe I'm wrong.

Thanks also to both of you for your tips on where to buy blankets. I am in Canada, so I have to take shipping into consideration, but ordering online sometimes gives more selection than what I can find locally. I will also check out the selection locally so brand names and specific details (denier, straps) really help me! At my local tack shop the owner suggested a WeatherBeeta rain blanket, but the cheapest one was 175$ so if I can get the same quality at a lower price, that would be good. I don't want to get a blanket that will fall apart though, so if I have to pay more, I will.
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post #5 of 11 Old 10-18-2015, 08:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
Thanks Wallaby and gottatrot! To answer your question Wallaby, no, he does not have a proper shelter in his paddock. A few trees, but not enough to reliably keep him dry. I do understand what you're saying about horses puffing up their coats to stay warm, but I want to avoid something too heavy because I am not confident that the BO will be taking it on and off at the right times. It's likely he would end up wearing it all day even if the rain stopped and the temperature warmed up during the day and then he would get hot and sweaty. Like when I send the kids to school with heavy coats and it turns out to be a warm sunny afternoon (where's the emoticon for "stinky"?).

gottatrot - I noticed fleece blankets are popular as cooling sheets. The purpose of this sheet, as you point out, is to ensure he is cooled down gradually on colder days. When I had my last horse (30 some years ago yikes!), I just had a big wool blanket. The selection of blankets now is considerably larger! So does anyone like fleece and why? Wouldn't it be bulkier than a thin sheet? How does this affect washing it? Fleece tends to attract hair, etc., so I am picturing a very hairy blanket that would make a mess in the washing machine! Maybe I'm wrong.

Thanks also to both of you for your tips on where to buy blankets. I am in Canada, so I have to take shipping into consideration, but ordering online sometimes gives more selection than what I can find locally. I will also check out the selection locally so brand names and specific details (denier, straps) really help me! At my local tack shop the owner suggested a WeatherBeeta rain blanket, but the cheapest one was 175$ so if I can get the same quality at a lower price, that would be good. I don't want to get a blanket that will fall apart though, so if I have to pay more, I will.
look into Irish knits for cooling. They are a nice option. If it cool and raining he should be ok it's when it's windy that may be an issue. If barn person isn't reliable to take on and off as needed and you are able to do it then I would be ok to use.
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post #6 of 11 Old 10-18-2015, 09:00 AM
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I keep a rain sheet on my horse much of the winter for the same reasons you have listed, though our temperatures are typically a little warmer than yours I think. When it gets close to or below freezing here I typically switch to a mid-weight. I haven't had any issues with the sheet soaking through. Water will eventually work its way past the neck opening a little bit onto the shoulder area, but my horse has always been dry on his back. I'm a Schneider's blanket fan

I have fleece coolers (my favorite is a fitted one with neck; I think it's this one) and like them OK but they do grab a lot of hair and dirt and can get static if you go too long between washes. For after exercise, one cooler works fine, but if you're bathing on a chilly day, I find I need 2 coolers to really get my horse dry (the first one gets saturated pretty quickly).

I had my horse in full training for part of last winter and my trainer used Irish knit coolers, which were much better about collecting dirt and not getting static, but they're typically made of cotton which doesn't retain warmth when wet (I know my avid hiker friends avoid cotton like the plague for that reason) so I have my doubts about using them in the winter.

I like the idea of wool, but it's hard to come by these days and much more expensive than fleece. I'm guessing it would also pick up its fair share of hair and dirt. Something like this looks interesting- fleece with a mesh lining so maybe it doesn't pick up as much stuff? Wick-Dri Cooler
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post #7 of 11 Old 10-18-2015, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallaby View Post
I think this article is pretty on point - Horse Blanketing Questions and Answers from EQUUS Magazine | EQUUS Magazine

I think your idea for a cooling sheet is a good one. I've never delved into that area of things myself, so I can't recommend one. I should probably get one "just in case" though so I'll be watching what others have to say!


As far as the rain sheet goes, I hesitate to agree with you. [does he have shelter in his turnout/pasture area?]
Yes, being wet and cold is a bad combo. Yes, if he were mine, I would want to provide protection too. Yes, a blanket is a good idea.
BUT.
The thing that keeps a horse warm in cold temperatures is primarily the loft of their hair. Heat generated from digestion plays a role too, but hair loft is a biggie - it's why wet horses have a hard time staying warm, wet hair can't loft!
What happens when you put a blanket/covering on top of lofted hair? The hair is weighed down and potentially/probably loses a portion [if not all] of its lofting potential.
Therefore, because you are removing hair loft from your horse by putting a blanket on him, it's important to replace that missing loft with blanket fill. A rain sheet, without fill, won't replace hair loft. It will smoosh down the hair in various areas without replacing that heat loss.

In my opinion, you should choose a heavier weight waterproof blanket if your plan is to use it when temperatures are near freezing, or below. You need to choose a blanket with more fill to replace the hair loft he looses by having a blanket on. Basically you're taking his hair-abilities away, so you need to replace that hair somehow. More fill means more replaced hair.

A thicker blanket also has the side benefit of not getting soaking wet as fast - I have a selection of rain sheets and I have yet to meet one that is truly waterPROOF. They seem to tend towards being water resistant which is great...until it's 35*F and your horse has been standing out in the rain for 12 hours, his blanket is soaked through, he's totally wet, he's shivering, and you feel like a real jerk.
At least with a heavier blanket, you have an extra safeguard against the blanket getting soaked through [plus he'll be warmer and happier!].

You will get a lot of varying opinions about rainsheet or not. Some think a rainsheet is just fine no matter the temperature if your horse has a good winter coat. And that's just fine, to each his own.
I just know that in the wet state of Oregon, a rainsheet at near freezing temperatures does not ever cut it.


I have a variety of blankets for my gelding [mostly inherited from my last horse because, luckily, they wear the same size! :shock: ]. He rarely sees any of them, of course, because [unlike my last elderly horse] he spends most of his time being too fat and not caring about the weather. :lol:

However, when he does start caring about the weather, I have one of these and really like it a lot: Tough-1 600 Denier Turnout Blanket - Horse.com
I had always avoided Tough-1 in the past because I thought they were cheap junk, but I have been really impressed with the fit, details, and craftsmanship of this blanket. It's, for the most part, much better than the Weatherbeetas I used to only ever buy!
I also have a 400g Pessoa blanket [talk about fancyyyyy] for his heavyweight blanket and, despite being over 5 years old, that thing has zero signs of age. But it was well over $200 new [I got it during a clearance sale for 60% off!] so I'd hope it was built to last!


Good luck! Blanketing can be really tricky, but rewarding!
Hi Acadianartist, Wallaby, All!

My critters wear medium-heavy weight blankets off and on all winter. They have 24/7 access to nice stalls in the barn, but rarely use them in the winter, preferring to stand with their butts to the wind, even in a driving blizzard.

Blankets go on when a storm is approaching, and particularly if we have been having warmer weather ahead of the cold front, as this makes it more likely that they will get wet before the temperature really plummets. They also get blanketed for extreme cold; sub-zero F. temperatures or similar windchill.

They may not need the extra protection, but they _all_ appreciate it; I have had them refuse a blanket in the evening, only to demand one the next morning. (I rarely halter/tie them, but simply call them up to the barn and ask them to stand while I blanket them. If they won't "stand for it", they don't get one; I'm far too lazy to argue about it. Thus they get to "choose".

The weight and pressure of the blanket does compress their fur, so as Wallaby says, the blanket has to make up the difference. And it has to be waterproof and breathable to be effective, otherwise the poor animal ends up wearing a shell of ice; what good is that?

When they are wearing blankets, I check at least twice a day to be sure they are dry and warm underneath. The blankets come off as soon as the weather clears, and I will usually fluff their coats for them with a stiff brush after I take them off.

I have never used a Tough-1 blanket, but have had good luck with the Weatherbeeta "Freestyle", and also with the Rambo. I would put them all in Rambo's if I was affluent; they are that nice. The Weatherbeeta is a close second for half the cost. I haven't found any pressing need for the neck covers, but will be trying one on my geriatric gelding "Banjo" this winter, as he is developing Cushings, and may need the extra protection.

I also keep spares on hand in case one gets damaged or begins to lose water integrity. Scotchguard will usually restore a reasonable degree of water proof-ness. For a little while.

Happy Horses -R- Us :-)

ByeBye! Steve (and The Hay Creek Mob; Coming in for breakfast at -20F)
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post #8 of 11 Old 10-18-2015, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all! Love that winter picture George the mule!

Seems I am no closer to picking out a rain blanket...

However, for a cooling sheet, how about this wool one? I can get it locally and it's reasonably priced.

Fitted Wool Cooler W/ Gusset | BLC0021 | Greenhawk

Or this one (but it's only 840 denier)?

Wool Cooler | BLC0020 | Greenhawk

Pros and cons of a loose blanket vs a fitted one?


Churumbeque, is this what you mean by an Irish knit? It's about 50$ more, but I could live with that if I knew that the quality was much higher.

Curvon Irish Weave Sheet | BLC1627 | Greenhawk

My other local tack store carries WeatherBeeta and there is another place I can check, but they would have a very limited selection.
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post #9 of 11 Old 10-19-2015, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
Thanks all! Love that winter picture George the mule!

Seems I am no closer to picking out a rain blanket...

However, for a cooling sheet, how about this wool one? I can get it locally and it's reasonably priced.

Fitted Wool Cooler W/ Gusset | BLC0021 | Greenhawk

Or this one (but it's only 840 denier)?

Wool Cooler | BLC0020 | Greenhawk

Pros and cons of a loose blanket vs a fitted one?


Churumbeque, is this what you mean by an Irish knit? It's about 50$ more, but I could live with that if I knew that the quality was much higher.

Curvon Irish Weave Sheet | BLC1627 | Greenhawk

My other local tack store carries WeatherBeeta and there is another place I can check, but they would have a very limited selection.
I like the fitted wool one. It's nice that it has shoulder gussets, too

I'm wondering if the nylon shell on the second one would hinder the ability to wick moisture away. (Not sure) I wouldn't worry too much about the denier rating on it, since this isn't something you're going to leave on an unattended horse anyway.
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post #10 of 11 Old 10-19-2015, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks verona! Yes, I like the look of that fitted wool sheet and it's under 100$. I also wondered about the nylon shell on the other one. Not sure what the purpose of the shell might be, since you want a cooling blanket to breathe, don't you?
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