by Olivia Kile April 13, 2020 4 min read
If you’ve gone through our blanketing blog and you’ve come to the conclusion that a blanket is necessary for your horse, the next step is ordering it! The horse world is always inundated with trends from rider’s clothing, helmets and footwear to horse blankets and sheets.
New fabric technology is always emerging as the next best thing, but one thing to remember to ask yourself without getting caught up in the details: is my horse comfortable? When shopping for waterproof blankets and sheets, a proper fit makes all the difference.
It may seem obvious to some, but many people don’t realize that they are measuring incorrectly, resulting in a false reading. It is a common mistake to start at “1”, but this would skew your measurement to an extra inch. Always start at the “0” line to include the first fraction measurements below 1 inch.
First, grab a friend who has experience handling horses. It will be much easier to get an accurate measurement when you don’t have to worry about spread eagle-ing it to stretch out the tape across your horse’s body. Make sure your horse is safely handled by someone else or on the cross ties with someone still at their head to prevent movement. This person may also help hold the first end of the tape too.
After you have your horse safely secured with someone at their head, make sure they are standing as squarely as possible. If your horse has their leg stretched way forward or the hind leg out behind them, you’ll get a reading that ends up in a blanket that is too big.
Note that individual brands will fit each horse differently. Just like buying clothing at different stores, horse clothing brands have their own fit and shape to them. Even two of the same number size blankets from two different companies could fit completely opposite from the other. One could be too large and one could be way too small. Measuring your horse will give you a safe number to go by when first purchasing. Some brands may even measure to and from different points, but the center of chest to edge of the tail is the basic recommendation.
After you purchase your new waterproof horse sheet, flysheet, scrim or whatever your horse will be wearing, make sure it fits! A blanket that is ill-fitted may rub or pose a danger by getting hung up on a fence post or loose nail. There are several points to check when fitting turnouts or stable clothing. The most important areas to check for fit are the neck/ withers, chest, belly straps, leg straps and overall length.
When checking the neck and withers for fit, you should be able to easily slide your hand between the horse and the blanket, but not move the garment all around. There should not be any uncomfortably tight sections, resulting in rippled fabric, nor big gaps that could let wind and precipitation in. The withers should not be restricted with tight fabric as this results in discomfort and cuts down on their freedom of movement. Horses with “shark fin” withers commonly have this issue.
This horse would be more comfortable in a blanket that is cut for wither relief or a high neck that travels past the withers and onto the neck.
The chest and shoulders are important parts to have free movement and decrease restriction. Here and the base of the neck are common places for rubbing to occur from improper fit. A blanket or sheet that is too tight could block the horse’s point of shoulder from moving forward, restricting the horse’s movement and causing rubs. When fastening chest buckles, you shouldn’t have to yank the fabric across your horses’ chest.
Belly and leg straps are important to be a suitable length for safety. Too often horses are turned out in the field and end up passing a hoof onto a strap, causing a fall hazard. Excessively loose leg and belly straps are similar to turning a horse out with a lead rope still attached to a halter. Leg and belly straps should be close to the horse’s body, but not create tension on the straps nor allow for low hanging loops. Both belly and leg straps should be evenly adjusted on left and right hooks using the sliding adjuster.
A properly fitted blanket is much less likely to do this:
The overall length of the blanket should look neat and tidy. Too big, and it might be hard to tell if there’s a horse under there. Too small, and your horse will look like they’re wearing a crop top! All blankets, sheets and anti-fly clothing should come in front of the chest and fall just behind the quarters.
Pictured is a blanket that is too short:
Making sure your horse is in a blanket that fits is critical to their comfort and safety from the stall to the pasture!
Olivia has a passion for all things equestrian and equine health and still enjoys riding. Olivia earned a bachelor's degree in Equine Science from Delaware Valley University and currently works as a sales and marketing assistant at Breeches.com
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