November 27, 2021 6 min read
Shopping for turnout blankets for your horse is almost like shopping for jeans for yourself. You may think you’re a size 10, only to find out you’re actually a size 9 in one brand and an 11 in another. Just like jeans, the sizing and fit of turnout blankets can vary greatly between brands and styles. One blanket may be the right size but the wrong cut which creates gaps at the shoulder or tightness over the withers. Understanding if your turnout blanket correctly fits your horse is crucial to your mission to find the perfect blanket.
When checking the fit of your horse’s blanket, move to a quiet area, drape it over your horse’s back, and adjust it so that it hangs evenly on both sides. Before you close any of the buckles or adjust any of the straps, you need to check the four main points of contact: the withers, shoulder, stifle, and tailbone.
Let’s start with the stifle. Your horse’s blanket should fall just below your horse’s stifle or elbow. If the drop of the blanket is too long, your horse will look like he’s wearing a bed sheet and, more importantly, it could restrict his movement. If it’s too short, your horse’s belly will be unprotected from the elements and left out in the cold. The drop of the blanket should be well above the knee and a few inches below the stifle.
Next examine your horse’s shoulder. The chest closure of the blanket should line up with the point of your horse’s shoulder. The point of the shoulder aligns with where the neck attaches to the chest. So a front closure that falls at the point of the shoulder ensures your horse has ample room for grazing activities and won’t find the buckles jammed into his throat. Close the blanket to check the shoulder area for any gaps. A well-fit blanket should follow the contours of the neck and shoulder, as rain and cold air could easily penetrate these spaces.
The third point of contact is at the withers. Here the blanket hangs off the back of your horse’s neck and shoulder. If it’s pulled too tight it will cause rubs and hair loss at the mane. This can also be quite painful. You should be able to easily slide your hand along the withers. You should be able to feel if it’s too snug and pressing down into your horse’s neck. If it is, you need a bigger blanket or a different cut.
Last but not least, move to a safe position at the rear of your horse and examine the tail flap. The seam where the tail flap meets the back of the blanket should fall along your horse’s dock. If the seam is hanging below the dock and onto the tailbone, the blanket is too big. On the other hand, if the seam is sitting back on the rump and you can easily see the tail and thighs, the blanket is too small and won’t fully protect your horse from the elements.
Fitting a turnout blanket to a horse with a low set neck can be a challenge. Look for blankets with buckles that are set lower across the chest as these won’t dig into your horse’s neck while they graze. High set buckles can’t accommodate a low neck and will cause issues with fit throughout the blanket. Buy turnouts that have a v-shape or contoured cut to the neck. This means that they slope with the angle of your horse’s neck and close in a v-shape instead of straight across.
Stock horse breeds like Quarter Horses and Paints tend to have large beefy shoulders that serve them well when chasing down cattle and working on a ranch. However, it does make it a bit harder to find turnout blankets to accommodate their shoulders. When shopping for blankets for a stock horse, you want to look for a broader fit with built-in shoulder protection and an adjustable chest closure. If your horse has both a low-set neck and a large shoulder, look for a blanket that has a wide neck opening and is cut at a sloped angle.
High withers don’t just make for an uncomfortable bareback ride, but they can also make it a challenge to find a blanket that won’t rub or cause pressure at the withers. Look for blankets that have additional padding or a shaped wither area for pressure relief. Sharkfin withers can also cause a turnout blanket to gap at the neck if it is not fitted properly, so you may want to choose a combo or high neck. A high neck blanket doesn’t just ensure there won’t be any gaps at your horse’s shoulder, but it also takes pressure off the withers and distributes the weight of the blanket over a greater area.
Just like people, horses come in all shapes and sizes. If your horse is of the curvier variety, you may have noticed that blankets tend to cause rubs on the point of the hip and at the shoulder. Adjustable chest closures will be your best friend as they will give your horse a little extra room in the chest without extending the length of the whole blanket. Pay attention to the size of your turnout blanket’s shoulder gussets. Big horses require larger gussets.
Not all of our horses are blessed with a full figure. Breeds like Arabians and Thoroughbreds can be extremely dainty and narrow. If turnout blankets hang off your horse’s sides, gap at the neck and are all around too wide, but fit lengthwise, then you probably have a narrow horse. If traditionally cut blankets tend to hang low on your horse or gap at the neck, look for ones with an adjustable neck, leg straps, and surcingles.
At Breeches.com, we offer brands like Horze, TuffRider, Jacks and more to fulfill all of your turnout blanket needs. We have a variety of shapes and sizes so you can find the perfect fit no matter your horse’s conformation. For more information on turnout blankets, check out this guide.
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