If you decide to blanket your horse this winter, there are literally hundreds of choices out there – stable sheets, turnout blankets, coolers and more. Most horse owners have an extensive “wardrobe” for their horses – something for every occasion. But you can easily get by with just three essentials - a “capsule wardrobe” as they say in the fashion world.
1. A fleece cooler or Irish knit anti-sweat sheet. There are other materials available, but I’ve found these to work the best. If you prefer something different, look for one that wicks away moisture from your horse and insulates against chill. These are the blankets you use after exercising your horse in the winter. He may still be a little damp however these blankets help continue to dry him off while keeping him warm.
2. A light weight turnout sheet. Skip the stable blankets and wool sheets. Even if your horse isn’t turned out during the winter now, someday you may be in a place where he is. Turnout sheets are waterproof so he can go out in less than perfect conditions and still stay dry and warm. Look for ones that say that they are “breathable.” Your horse may go out in the a.m. in a cool drizzle, but if it suddenly turns sunny, you don’t want him to start sweating in his cover-up. Breathable fabrics allow moisture to escape to avoid this.
3. A medium to heavy weight turnout blanket. The weight of this depends on your winters. Again, this should be a waterproof, but breathable fabric.
With these three blanketing essentials, you can mix and layer to meet the weather needs of your horse:
- Just a cool fall evening? Use the fleece cooler.
- A raining late spring day? The turnout sheet.
- A cold winter rainy day? The turnout sheet WITH the fleece cooler underneath for extra warmth. The waterproof sheet keeps the cooler dry.
- Cool days and cold nights? Put the turnout sheet on during the day, add the blanket as another layer at night.
- Cold days and cold nights? Use the cooler, layer the turnout sheet on top, then add the blanket at night.
Layering has been proven to provide more warmth than just one heavy cover because it traps warm air between the layers for added “toastiness.” The waterproofing of the sheet and blanket will also aid in insulation against the cold.
If you decide to blanket this winter, your horse will appreciate this winter capsule wardrobe.