Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Horse Blanket System

Only horse people could have multiple points of view on how to do something as simple as putting a blanket on a horse. On this I think we can agree- a horse blanket usually has two buckles together at the front, two belly straps and two straps and a specific end for the head and tail. That is about where our ability to universally agree comes to an end.

What size of blanket (a little too small vs a little too big), the length of straps (loose or tight), to cross or not to cross (the back straps), not to mention other variables like blanket type, material, weight or whether to blanket at all etc. are just a few of the many subjects that are left to personal opinion.

Do you have a system for how take on and off a blanket?...which buckles to do up or undo first? I do. I even have a system to how I fold the blanket as I take it off so that I'll be able to put it back on with ease.

Personally, to take off a blanket, I start with the back straps, then the belly, then the front. My theory is that if things go wrong (my horse blows up) while I'm taking off the blanket I'd rather the blanket stay on in the front than dangle off the rear where it will set my horse off further by "chasing" her as it trails behind. When putting on a blanket I start at the front and work my way back.

Once the blanket if fully unbuckled I take the front piece and fold it back over the withers, then flip that over so that it is a folded section sitting on the rear, then I take it off... when i put it back on I place the blanket over the rear and unfold it as I pull it up towards the front.

I prefer very short belly straps, my theory being that the closer the strap is to the belly the less likely it is that my horse can get her foot stuck in it. I cross the back straps and prefer them short as well, so that the loop falls just a few inches below where the buttocks meet. In the front I pull the lower chest strap fairly snug but leave the top strap (that closes the neck) three or so holes longer... I figure the bottom buckle will keep the blanket forward while the top buckle will allow plenty of neck room.

As I've mentioned before I think it is really important that when I blanket I constantly monitor that the weight of the blanket is appropriate for the temperature. Most importantly I think it is critical that if a horse is going to be outside in the rain the blanket must be absolutely waterproof, not just water resistant. There is nothing worse than having a wet horse under a wet blanket.

But then that is just MHO (my humble opinion). I'd love to hear yours!


  1. Your back to front for taking off and front to back for putting on is the safest method, I think. I like my belly straps relatively short, but not so short that they pull on the top of the blanket - that can be uncomfortable. For hind leg straps (some of my blankets just have a tail strap), I run the strap from the rear back to the same side, with the two straps looped through each other - this works better IMO than crossing over to keep the straps from rubbing the insides of the hind legs. I keep these straps reasonably short too - but no wedgies!

  2. Yep, I think your system is fairly universal and makes the most sense for safety's sake.

    I'm not a blanketer, but sure have had to start learning a bunch about coolers. Who knew there were so many different kinds?

  3. I will go with a closed front blanket over an open front blanket any day. They just seem to fit better, last longer, and it gives the less hardware to break. You just have to make sure your horse is good about things going over their head.

    I agree with Kate on the back legs - not completely sure but it sounds like she does the same thing as me I cross them but then give them another twist in the middle so the straps are returning to the side but looped around each other between their legs. This hold them away from legs and keeps the straps from rubbing the insides of the legs.

    ALSO I take a band (that I would use to band their manes) and double it around the interconnecting metal where the straps connect back on to the blanket so they can't come undone without some effort.

    I like the blankets with the big thick back leg straps as opposed to the little elastic ones with the hooks for this reason and it's been my experience showing and blanketing horses for 20+ years these leg straps last longer (but are a pain in the ass to replace when broke).

    I too like the singer shorter belly strap as opposed to the longer ones that cross.

  4. Although I have both open front and closed front blankets, I put them all on over the head because it saves time and it desensetizes my horses to things brushing their ears and faces.

    I don't cross leg straps ever since I read a manufacturer's warning saying legs strags shouldn't be crossed claiming if the horse gets caught on something more harm can be caused to the blanket and the horse. And I like my straps relatively short so the blanket doesn't shift but not too short so they rub.

    I also really like the blankets that have the adjustable neckline.

  5. Like you, I fasten straps from front to back when putting the blanket on, and undo them back to front taking it off. I have all of my straps relatively short with the thought in mind that they are less likely to catch. I don't loop or cross leg straps. I do fold my blanket back simlar to the way you do when you take it off, then usually throw it over the fence until I'm ready to put it back on. I use a closed front liner since I think doubling up hardware at the chest is a bit much. My turnout is open front, though. As for keeping up with temperature changes, I went with a midweight turnout and separate liner to try to accomodate the widest range of temperatures and so far it seems to be working out well.

  6. I am kinda new to the whole blanketing thing, and its all kinda awkward for me and my horse. I try to undo and do up the same wya, I didnt cross the back straps and they havent rubbed yet and the belly straps are fairly close to the body and so far (a week) it still is on and no rubs.

  7. I do the same as you all, go front to back putting them on, and then back to front taikng them off - all go over the head. All my blankets now have tail flaps ( see the article about Desi's wild brumbie tail)I use the small straps that hook at both ends, easy on and off from any angle, and I only cross those straps if the blanket is a mare- otherwise they can be peed upon and that is gross. They are also cheap to replace when they strech too much or gawd forbid.. snap! I give a clookie after the blanket and the ponies learn to duck their heads and stand like good ponies before they get their cookie. I have found I like the blankets that come way up over the wither to keep it from rubbing a sore there.
    Favorite Brand- Scheneider and Big D, For the sleezy or slinky I like the Robin Hoods. They have a mesh one for sunner that is gret!

  8. The only thing I do that would be considered "spoiling" is when I'm done the workout and I'm reblanketing, I leave his cooler on, put the blanket on over top. The blanket by the time it goes back on is cold, and he's nice and toasty under the cooler after working. Its like putting on a cold jacket! EW! So, leave the cooler on, do up the front straps, then I go around and pick his feet, give his legs a good brush, oil his hooves, and then I slide the cooler off out the back! His winter blankey is now a little more warm and it's not a shock to my poor baby's back. :) YES he's very very spoiled!!

  9. I'm a little embarrassed to admit this but I never thought about removing back-to-front, I always start at the front for on and off! Not anymore!!! Back to front makes perfect sense and I can't believe I didn't think of it before!