Hopefully you are able to put away most of your horse blankets until next year. Quality horse blankets can be expensive so you want them last as long as possible. Instead of just tossing them in a pile in the corner of the tack room until next fall, take these steps now and they'll be good as new next time you are ready to use them.
Check for Wear And Fit
Horses are tough on blankets. It’s not uncommon to find a leg strap missing or a rip in the lining. If you’re handy you may be able to tackle some repairs yourself. Otherwise, let a blanket repair shop do the work. Also check how the blanket fits on your horse. Did you notice any rubbing on the shoulder? Are you upgrading from a 14.2hh pony to a 16hh horse? If your blanket is still serviceable, consider selling it or donating it to a horse rescue.
Storing a muddy, dirty blanket during the summer can cause the blanket’s material to deteriorate. Dirty buckles and snaps can be difficult to open come the fall. Before cleaning your blankets, allow them to dry and knock off as much of the dirt as possible. It’s usually easiest to send your blankets to a blanket cleaning service. Many of them can also do repairs and will re-waterproof those that need it. Some lightweight sheets can be washed at home and some laundromats will allow you to use their machines. If you’re washing waterproof blankets, make sure that you’re using an appropriate blanket wash – laundry detergent will strip the waterproofing – and only use a washing machine without an agitator. There are also waterproofing solutions that you pour right into the washing machine. Always allow blankets to thoroughly dry before you store them.
Keep Hardware from Old Blankets
When it is finally time to toss out old blankets, make sure to cut the metal hardware off before you throw out the blanket. Save the metal hardware and use it to make repairs on your future blankets. Sometimes providing these to the blanket repair person can save you some money.
Store Blankets in Plastic Totes
Once your blankets are cleaned, store them in heavy-duty plastic totes to protect them from mice or other rodents. You may wish to seal your blankets in vacuum packed bags to cut down on space. Tossing a few dryer sheets can help to further deter mice while also leaving your blankets smelling fresh and clean.
Invest in Blanket Drying Bars or Racks
Keeping blankets dry during blanket season can help prevent mold and keep them smelling a little fresher. Being able to quickly dry out your blankets also means that you will have a dry blanket to put on your horse during periods of wet weather. Consider investing in blanket drying bars/racks for your barn or including a tack storage room further promoting fast, thorough blanket drying.
Take good care of your horse blankets to help prolong their life. Remember to buy the best quality blankets that you can afford and always keep them properly cleaned and stored so you can get the most use out of them!