Buying your horse’s winter wardrobe can be costly and time-consuming. You can avoid having to do this chore every year by properly storing and caring for your horse blankets. Horse blanket cleaning and the use of horse blanket racks can mean the difference between a blanket that lasts for years and one that holds up for only a season. Proper blanket care and storage prevents the build up of acidic urine and manure which will wear down the blanket over time. Your horse deserves to wear a clean blanket at the start of each season, not one that’s stiff with last year’s dirt.
Daily Care for Horse Blankets
Some horses can be very hard on their blankets. A blanket with holes and broken straps is not only unable to keep your horse warm, but it can even be dangerous. Broken straps dangling around your horse’s legs can get tangled or cause your horse to spook. This is why it’s so important to check your blanket for holes, wet spots, and fraying straps every time you go to the barn. If you see a hole or broken strap, get your blanket repaired by a professional horse blanket repair person as soon as possible. You can also buy replacement leg straps like these ones.
Horses are very talented at finding the dirtiest spot in the paddock to lay down and roll. All this dirt, urine, and manure builds up on the exterior shell of the blanket and may actually break down the stitching, waterproofing, and integrity of the fabric over time. You can extend the lifespan of your blanket by taking the time to brush all that dirt, hair, and manure off the blanket on a daily basis. This can be easier to do when the blanket is still on your horse– but be careful. Make sure your horse won’t mind the sound of the brush on the blanket before you start.
Short-Term Storage: Horse Blanket Racks vs. Bags
All equestrians face a similar challenge when it’s blanket season: how will you store these blankets in a spot that’s out of the way, neat, and easy to get to? If you board your horse, ask the staff before coming up with your own solution. Many barns will have a specific method they prefer you use. For example, some boarding barns have horse blanket racks right on the stall door for easy access.
There are two common solutions for storage: horse blanket racks and blanket bags.
There are many different types of horse blanket racks. Some are hanging tiered bars (like this) that are secured high up on the wall. Horse blankets will hang vertically from these either by the neck or the tail strap.
There are many benefits to this type of rack, such as air flow to every part of the blanket, which will speed drying after a rainy day.
To use these racks, you’ll have to fold the blanket and then place it over the bar. The end result looks very neat and makes it easy for staff to quickly grab the blanket.
Unfortunately, they do not allow the blanket to dry as thoroughly as the hanging bars.
Storage bags are a little more time-consuming but keep blankets organized and out of the way. Clips behind the bag attach to the bars of a stall door or hooks on the wall.
Before putting your horse blanket in a storage bag, it’s important to make sure that it’s completely dry, otherwise mold and mildew could grow in the bag.
At the End of the Season: Horse Blanket Cleaning and Waterproofing
Horse Blanket Cleaning
When it comes to washing, a horse blanket is just as cumbersome as a large heavy quilt-- plus ten times the amount of dirt. Occasionally boarding barns may have an old washing machine that is designated for blankets, saddle pads, and other horse laundry. This can be a huge benefit to boarding, especially when you consider the thorough cleaning your own personal machine would need after horse blanket cleaning.
If you don’t want to clean your personal washing machine after use and you don’t have the option of using your barn’s machine, ask around at your local laundromats. Some laundromats will allow you to use their machines for horse blanket cleaning. Be aware that this can take a big toll on their business as they’ll have to clean the machine afterwards and the heavy blankets place more wear and tear on the machine. It’s polite to call ahead first and confirm that they will allow you to wash your horse blanket in their store.
Whether you decide to use your personal machine, your boarding barn’s washer, or a laundromat, make sure you’re not using your regular laundry detergent. Detergent can strip the blanket of its waterproofing and is generally too harsh for horse blankets. Instead, use a product like Woolite. Try and use a front loading washing machine as these generally do not have an agitator. After it’s washed, dry all of your blankets in the sun and over a railing.
If washing it yourself sounds too complicated, use a professional horse blanket cleaning service instead. The cost to have your blanket cleaned will vary based on the weight of the blanket, your location, and if waterproofing or repairs are needed. A professional blanket service will ensure that your horse blanket gets the care it needs.
Waterproofing Your Blanket
A blanket that is no longer waterproof will be unable to do its job. The last thing you want is for your horse to stand around, soaked and carrying a heavy wet blanket on a frigid winter night. Most equestrians will only have to waterproof their blankets once a year. Often this is done at the same time as horse blanket cleaning.
There are several different ways to go about waterproofing your blankets. The easiest and most effective way is to have it done by a professional. Professional horse blanket cleaners will have access to the best products and know exactly how to use them to ensure the waterproofing “sticks.”
If using a professional for horse blanket cleaning and waterproofing isn’t in your budget, you can choose to do it yourself instead. There are two different types of waterproofing products: washes and sprays. It’s important to read the directions on the product of your choice before using.
Most washes require you to clean your horse blanket before washing it again with the waterproofing wash. Make sure the blanket is thoroughly rinsed before adding the product and all horse blanket cleaning detergent has been washed away.
Waterproofing sprays don’t require a washing machine. As long as your horse blanket is cleaned, you can apply the spray directly to the blanket. Make sure you’re in an outdoor area and follow the directions on the back of the product.
When choosing a waterproofing product, choose one that is pet-safe and has minimal odor. It’s best to use a blanket-specific waterproofing product to ensure that it will adhere to the fabric.
Horse Blanket Storage for the Summer
At the end of blanket season, you’ll face a new challenge: how are you going to store your expensive blanket where it won’t be damaged by mice or mildew? To start, ensure that your blanket is clean before storing it for the summer months. Otherwise manure and urine will have plenty of time to eat away at the fabric and destroy the waterproofing. Storing damp blankets can lead to the growth of mold or mildew and possibly ruin the blanket. Make sure all of your blankets are bone dry before storing!
You can buy blanket storage bags, like this one from Tough-1. However, for long-term storage most people prefer to pack them away in clear plastic bags, like the packaging for quilts or sheets. This way you can quickly glance at the bag and see which blanket is inside and if there’s any mold or mildew forming. You can take this method one step further by using vacuum-sealed storage bags which will compress the blankets and minimize the amount of space they take up.
Be sure to store your clean, packaged blankets in a mouse-proof area. The fleece or fuzzy padding at the top of the withers on blankets is perfect nesting material and mice will ruin your blankets when building their nests. To be sure these four-legged pests don’t destroy your blankets, some equestrians will actually bring their blankets inside their house for long-term storage. Hard storage containers or tack trunks are excellent places to store your packaged blankets.
Everything You Need for Horse Blanket Care
Online at Breeches.com, you can find everything you need for your horse’s winter wardrobe– from the blankets themselves to replacement parts to great storage options. We want you to have everything you need to ensure your horse’s blankets last for many years to come at accessible prices you’ll love. For more information on horse blankets, check out this blog.