It may seem early to be thinking about blanketing your horses, but it’s not. Now, while temperatures are still warm, is the time to pull your horse’s winter gear out of storage and confirm everything still fits and is in good condition.
Start by putting each blanket on the horse you intend to use it on this winter, even if it’s the same horse who wore it last year. Changes in a horse’s weight and body condition can dramatically alter how a blanket fits. Check the fit of the blanket by running your hand between it and the horse along the shoulders, withers and hips. Your hand should slip through smoothly, without being “squished” or pinched. Then, allow the horse to lower his head and graze, making sure the chest buckle doesn’t press into the base of his neck.
If the blanket fits, make sure it’s in good shape for the season ahead.
1. Check the stitching on all the straps, giving them a good tug to see if they hold.
2. Inspect the hardware to make sure it’s not bent or otherwise broken.
3. Look for small tears in the lining and outer shell—even a tiny tear can quickly become a giant one if it gets caught on a stall wall or discovered by a mouthy horse.
4. Check the condition of fleece or padding along the withers and other contact points to ensure it can still provide protection to the skin.
Click here to learn about winter shelters for pastured horses.
If a blanket no longer fits or is in poor condition, take steps immediately to replace or repair it. As winter approaches, selection in tack stores will become increasingly limited and repair services may not be able to complete needed work in time.
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