3 ways to prevent blanket injuries

Protect your horse from common blanket-related problems this winter with these simple measures.

Of all the things your horse could injure himself with, his blanket seems an unlikely candidate. But don’t rule it out. Blanket injuries and mishaps do happen and they can be serious. Here are three things you can do to avoid them:

Chestnut horse wearing a dark green blanket.
Even a blanket that fits well can pose an injury risk if it’s not adjusted correctly.

1. Check the fit: Most blanket injuries are a consequence of poor fit. A too-large blanket can shift out of position and slip down around legs, entangling them in the hind-leg straps. If the material does not rip quickly, tendons can become dangerously constricted. Blankets that are too small may cause pressure sores or rubbing injuries.

Click here for four winter-footing hacks.

2. Adjust the straps properly: Even a blanket that fits well can pose an injury risk if it’s not adjusted correctly. Belly straps are meant to fit flush with the skin, allowing just enough room for a single hand to slip in with your palm against the horse. Leg straps need to fit with enough space around the hind legs to avoid rubbing, but not so much that a leg can get trapped when the horse lies down. A good rule of thumb: Make sure you can put one hand, width-wise, between the strap and the leg.

3. Inspect it regularly: If a blanket fits well and is adjusted correctly, it’s not likely to injure a horse unless it’s damaged. Regularly check the stitching around buckles and fasteners to make sure they are secure. Also assure the integrity of the trim around the edges of the blanket. Finally, if your horse’s blanket becomes damaged—by a fence line, tree branch or mouthy pasture mate—remove it immediately and repair or replace it. 

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