Horse Blanket 101

Problem Solving for the Top 5 Questions about Horse Blankets

Information provided by The Blanket Lady, Sandy Rovane  530 333 2778

(have had several blankets cleaned and repaired and she does a great job)


  1. How do you measure your horse to get the correct blanket size?


    1. The easiest way is to measure from the center of the horse’s chest, over the point of the shoulder, to the center of the tail.
    2. Even though this will give you the size of your horse, not all blankets will fit your horse. Did you know there is American and European sizing? American sizing is in 2” increments, 66, 68, 70, etc….European sizing is in 3” increments, 66, 69, 72, etc. If you horse falls in between sizes, go to the next largest size.
  2. How do you know the Blanket fits the Horse?
    1. When your horse walks if you see the blanket pulling in the front, it is too tight and you will get shoulder and wither rubs.
    2. If he blanket gaps in front, it is too big and will slide back behind your horses’ withers.
    3. The blanket should be no more than halfway to the horses’ knees and hocks, if it is longer the horse could get his leg caught in the surcingles when getting up.
    4. The ends of the blanket at the hindquarters, when gently pulled together, should meet at the sides of the horse’s tail. If they overlap on the tail the blanket is too big. If you can see a few inches of rump on either side of the tail, it’s too small. (Horse Illustrated – Nov 2011)
    5. My favorite blankets are Horse Sense and International Rider 1200 denier for winter use. We have been repairing blankets for over 17 years and we hardly repair these blankets and when we do it is usually to reattached hardware.
  3. What does all that denier mean? Make sure you look at the total package.
    1. Outer Shell
      1. Denier is the strength of the outer shell. The larger the number the stronger the shell. 1200 denier is my preference for out rain and temperature.
      2. Is it nylon or polyester? Nylon is stronger. Polyester holds up better in the sun. Ripstop nylon refers to a high-denier fabric woven in a cross pattern so that in the event of a tear, it is prevented from spreading. Ballistic refers to a thick and very tough synthetic fabric. The lower the number the softer the material; the higher the number the stiffer the material, which translates to heavier. Ballistic was originally used in military jackets and bullet-proof vests.
      3. Is the blanket waterproof or water-resistant? Water-resistant will provide some protection from moisture, but are not designed to fully repel water when exposed to downpours, snow, or sleet. Waterproof means that the blanket fabric has been treated to repel the water.  Beware of blankets with a top seam as they have a tendency to leak.
    2. Interior
      1. Nylon glides over the horse, allowing air circulation. Considering the moist climate under the blanket, it is an ideal place for bacteria to grow. Anti-microbial fabrics reduce or eliminate this problem. Beware of the blankets with a mesh lining as they trap hair, shavings and manure and are a pain for my washing machine to launder.
  4. Can you re-waterproofing a blanket?
      1. Yes and No. There are a few wash in waterproofing available. These are generally effective for increasing or restoring the waterproof and will not negatively affect the breathability factors of the fabric. There are also many sprays, but this reduces the permeability, making it less breathable and can damage the integrity of the material.
  5. How should I clean my blankets? Hose washing does more damage than paying me to launder as by machine laundering the inside as well as outside is clean and increases the life of the blanket as well as the thread rotting.
    1. To start with, have more than one blanket, so you can rotate them out. Horses sweat and dirt gets into the pores of the material, reducing the permeability.
    2. When you remove the blanket, it is best to turn it inside out to dry. If there is any dirt, brush it with a stiff brush, and if you need to clean it, rinse with a hose and hang over the fence to dry. NEVER put blankets in a dryer; the inside fabric can get too hot and melt or even shrink. Also, depending on how the insulation is installed it could bunch up ruining the insulation properties.
    3. If you need to have the blanket washed it is best to use a professional service "ie" The Blanket Lady 530 333 2778 that has large commercial capacity washers that are made to handle large volumes of water, dirt, and hair.
    4. Even though there are larger front loader home machines, they are not equipped to handle the volume of water and hair a horse blanket holds. Did you know that a horse blanket can hold up to 75 lbs of water, putting intensive stress on your home machine spinning cycle?
    5. If you do wash your own blankets, use only a front loading machine, use soap for horse blankets or use a very mild soap, like Cold Water Tide or Nik Wax blanket laundry products, use half the recommended dose, double rinse and hang to dry. Because some horses have allergies, NEVER use scented soap.

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