Monday, January 4, 2010

Blankets on Parade

It got down to 6F last night (about 15F inside the barn), and by the time I got back from the barn the temperature was up to 12F on the way to the high teens, but with a wind chill slightly below zero because of the wind. It didn't feel too bad to me, and the horses went out, and seemed happy about it. The skies are mostly cloudy today - we're supposed to get some snow flurries - when I first got to the barn the low light caused the clouds to have that dark blue pregnant look they sometimes get - they look as though they're very heavy. With the temperatures rising a bit, I'm hoping the horses can stay out all day. Those that tend to get particularly cold, like Noble and Dawn, are wearing their Polarfleece coolers under their heavy blankets, and we'll see if that allows them to stay comfortable.

Several people asked me to post on blanket fit, both the sizing issue and the fitting of the straps, so I took some photos of some of the blankets some of the other boarders and I use - I consider all the blankets shown to be properly sized and fitted. Dawn is in an older Rambo Wug heavyweight blanket (Horseware Ireland - their less expensive Rhino line of blankets isn't bad either, although I've found them somewhat less durable). I'm a big fan of the Rambos - they are extremely durable and well-made - but the downside of this is that they're also quite expensive. For some reason, although Dawn is 12, her blanket is now too tight in the chest and shoulders, so I've improvised an extra couple of inches at the front closure using clips that came off some old elastic leg straps - I save stuff like this for just this sort of need. When blankets go on sale, I'll see if I can get her a new one that is like Noble's and fits better. The things I don't like about this older Rambo are its very heavy weight, and the fit in the shoulders - Rambos use a very secure and easy to fasten two clips into one ring fastening at the front, but this design, plus the lack of shoulder gussets, means the fit can be somewhat constrictive in the shoulders. Here's Dawn in her purple glory, with my younger daughter (home for the holidays) - her real owner - in the first picture:

Dawn's blanket is at least 3 or 4 years old, and Noble just got the latest version of the same heavyweight blanket, also a Rambo Wug, but its design has been improved. There's better contouring in the withers and back, the weight has been greatly reduced without sacrificing warmth by using newer materials, there is a better velcro attachment at the chest, and the blanket hangs better due to the "leg arches" (as they call them) and the new three belly strap arrangement, which also provides more coverage on the underside. Here's Noble, also in purple:

Here is Noble demonstrating how I fasten the belly straps - tight enough to constrain the sides of the blanket but not so tight as to pull, but not so loose as to hang:

Here is Noble showing how I have fastened his tail strap (the Rambos don't have rear leg straps) - just tight enough to keep the sides from being blown up by the wind (Noble gets his tail strap very dirty, and if we get a day when he's not wearing this blanket I'll clean the tail strap so he doesn't get rubs from it):

And here's Noble showing how the front closure on the new Rambo looks:

Maisie wears another blanket I've had good experience with - this is a Brookside - the only one I've ever had but it was relatively inexpensive and it's been very durable - Lily wore it for several years first and she was outside 24/7. I'm not sure if the heavyweight turnout is still available - I used to like their relatively inexpensive rain sheets but I'm not sure they make them anymore. It fits Maisie well, and is appropriately contoured and with good shoulder gussets, although the coverage on the sides isn't as long as I'd like due to her size. The rings to attach the belly straps are convenient, although I've found that they tend to catch on things like eye hooks on doorframes and gate latches - I've had to have several broken rings repaired. Here's Maisie in silver and black (note the tiny Charisma and Blackjack in the background of the second shot):

Here's how I fasten Maisie's belly straps - the same as Noble's but this blanket doesn't wrap around the way his does and has only two straps:

And here's how I fasten Maisie's rear leg straps - I go with one strap from the rear ring to the side ring on the same side, and then do the same with the other strap but run it through the first strap on the way (I find this arrangement works better to prevent leg rubs than just doing an "x" with the leg straps crossing from one side to the other):

Several of the boarders have Weatherbeeta Orican heavy blankets, and I'd have to say that the experience with those has been mixed. A particular weakness seems to be the hardware - the snaps are small and tend to break or get stuck in the open or closed position. And the fabrics don't seem as durable as I'd like. They also introduced this odd double withers pad arrangement, I suppose to keep the blanket in place, but they do seem to slide around more than some other brands even with that. I also am not fond of how they fit in the neck, even with the high neck version. I do use Weatherbeeta rain sheets, and have been relatively satisfied with those, and have found them a decent value.

And here's Fred in his Rider's brand turnout from Dover - this is a durable blanket that is a good value, but it doesn't have much in the way of contouring, although it has excellent shoulder gussets (their rain sheets are also a good value):

Fritz insisted on getting in on the act, and here he shows us the front closure on the Dover blanket, which he also wears:

My daughter has a Baker turnout blanket for her mare Miranda, and is pretty satisfied with it - the fit is good, although it could have more depth in the sides, and it may not be as durable as she would like - there's one tear already despite it being 1,200 denier (of course this can happen to any blanket, and does) and the front straps are showing signs of wear.

That's it for blankets in review, and have a great day, and may it include horses!


  1. I have about 13 blankets for my one horse:-) I just buy one if it is a bargain...seem to have lots of Orican weetherbeetas. I think my favorite is a Horsewears. Since I buy the clearance and sale items...I don't get the nice colors you pictured...mine tend to be mint green, pink, grays w yellow....all the blankets no one else wants. I think I need to do an "ugly blanket parade:-)"

  2. Excellent post. Why are all your blankets so clean when mine are so filthy from their mud rolling?

  3. I'm with Lori, my blankets always look so dirty, because my horses have pig genes. I hate those dirty tail straps. All your horses look very toasty in their blankets. I bet they're happy to have them in this weather.

  4. Had serious trouble with a Rambo rubbing my horse's shoulders so badly we actually thought he was lame. Haven't tried any of the newer Rambos due to the cost.

  5. Your blanket review sounds much like mine! Love the Horseware line (as long as it is the higher denier ones, a few of the Amigo's are only 600D), like certain WB's and certain Dover blankets. I have a horse here that has a Brookside turnout blanket. It is the only one I've ever used (I have over 100 blankets on my farm right now!!) but I have been perfectly satisified with it. It is going into winter #3 this year although it gets used lightly, but it is in good shape, fits well, and is very waterproof.

  6. I use the Brookside blankets, they are very durable, since I have pasture horses. Brandy has worn hers for 4 seasons now. I do get some holes repaired each year, and have it waterproofed again. But I love how they fit, and they do hold up very well. My horses live in mud for many months, so I must have a blanket that stands up to it.
    For my filly, I bought a Weatherbeeta, I am impressed with it so far. I would buy another one of those again.
    At the farm I work at, the horses are kept stalled 24/7, except for short turnouts/training. They all wear stable blankets, not the turnout kind.
    Great, informative post!

  7. Great post, Kate, thanks! I like your way of linking the leg straps but still keeping them on the same sides, instead of making the X. Panama doesn't get leg rubs from the straps, but perhaps it would be worth trying anyway. Hmmm...

    Oh, and you do the straps -- particularly the belly straps -- the same way I do, with about the same amount of slack in each strap!

  8. Very good post, Kate! Great pictures!

    We have had really good luck with the HUG blankets. Lena had a Weathabeata last year that rubbed her chest hair off, so we decided to try the HUGs and have been very pleased. Good range of movement in front, and no wither pressure, either.

    I do, however, hate tail flaps. Lena has one, Bar does not. Not on purpose, that's just how they came.

  9. Thank for this information - I've never blanketed a horse but am in the market for a good blanket for both our horses. We'll be buying on clearance, so we will be joining the ugly blankie parade too...

  10. Love the information and the pictures. This is one of the most informative articles on this particular subject I've seen. I'm surprised, too, at what good shape your blankets are in. I used to blanket all the time, but a couple years ago decided not to and stowed away my blanket collection. Since mine are in constant turnout together, they tend to rip each other's blankets way too much from the constant herd bickering. As it is now, they always have the option to go inside the barn and outside they huddle together a lot and share warmth. It doesn't rain much here either. The down side is, they're dirtier without their blankets.

  11. Thank you for this post; it was really helpful! I never really learned how to properly fit a blanket for a horse, it was just trial & error and seeing how other people did theirs. I realized I don't do my belly straps tight enough, and neither do most of the people I know! I like the picture of Dawn & your daughter. They look like they go together.

  12. Lori - those blankets are clean because they never see mud, or at least unfrozen ground. These are all heavy turnouts that we only use when things are pretty cold - otherwise many of the horses go out naked, or if precipitation is expected, in rain sheets. But you should see the rains sheets - nasty!

  13. Kate, you should be on commission! Lucky for you no mud but sooo cold, brrr

  14. Thanks for posting the pics & commentary - very helpful! As has reading the additional comment been.

  15. anyone using BIG D blankets? i love'em...and I thanks for the tip for linking the leg straps to avoid rubs.


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