The cooler weather of fall is a welcome relief after a scorching summer, but frigid temperatures aren’t far behind. Now is the time to assess the blanket situation on your farm to make sure you’re ready for the first cold snap.
Start by gathering up all the blankets you plan to use this year and spreading each out flat in a well-lit area. Inspect every blanket for any damage that needs to be addressed, such as ripped fabric, fraying seams, torn straps or broken hardware. If you have the machinery and skills to fix these yourself, that’s a great activity for this weekend. If not, start searching for a repair service that can fit you in before the temperatures drop. Your local tack store might have a recommendation. You may also find suggestions in online equestrian communities.
If the blanket is in good shape, check to make sure it still fits the horse who will be wearing it. This is crucial, even if the horse wore the same blanket last year. Changes in weight and fitness can alter how a particular blanket fits.
Put the blanket on the horse and adjust the straps. Then check for clearance at the withers as well as at the front of the shoulders and over the hips. If the blanket fits, you will be able to easily slip a hand between the horse’s body and the blanket at all these locations.
Next, drop a treat on the ground by the horse’s front feet and watch as he reaches for it. He needs to be able to lower his head fully without the chest buckle digging into his neck. Any pinching from a too-small blanket may limit how much hay he eats and lead to weight loss over the winter months.
If you discover the blanket you intended to use doesn’t fit the horse, see if you can swap it with another in your collection. If that’s not an option, however, start shopping right now for a replacement. Inventories will dwindle as winter draws nearer, leading to limited selection and high prices. If the blanket fits, you’re good to go—just hang it nearby so you’ll be ready for the first cold snap.
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