1. Check the fit of blankets each year, even if the horse has worn that particular garment before. Changes in a horse’s weight and fitness can alter a blanket’s fit. A blanket that is too small can pinch or rub painfully, while one that is too large can become an entanglement hazard as it slips out of place. For a quick check of a blanket’s fit, slip your hand between it and the horse’s withers. Your hand should slide in easily. Do the same type of check at the shoulders and over the hips. Finally, watch the horse graze while wearing the blanket to make sure he can lower his head fully without a chest buckle pressing painfully into his skin. Adjust the belly straps so they hang no lower than three inches below the horse.
2. Consider getting your horse “underwear.” Even properly-fitting blankets can lead to hair loss on a horse’s shoulders from friction as the horse walks. Stretchy Lycra garments worn beneath blankets can help prevent this.
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3. If you have multiple blankets of different weights for your horse, consider marking them according to the appropriate conditions for their use. For instance, you can sew a brightly colored patch on the shoulder of each blanket marked with the temperature range for which it can be used. You could also attach a luggage tag with the same information to a buckle. Such easily referenced information will make blanketing easier for barn help or friends lending a hand.
Click here for the answers to the most common blanketing questions.
4. If temperatures fluctuate, blanket for the anticipated high of the day. A horse who sweats underneath a too-heavy blanket can become dangerously chilled when the temperature drops again.
5. Remove blankets daily, or at least every other day, to get a good look underneath. Skin diseases, weight loss and even injuries can go unnoticed under blankets and will be more difficult to deal with if they are not discovered right away.
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