With winter barreling down upon us once again, now’s the time to get out the blankets you cleaned and stored last spring.
According to Kelly Nicholls, North America’s Commercial Manager and spokesperson for Horseware Ireland, “It’s not uncommon for a horse’s body to change from one season to the next. Just because a blanket fit last year doesn’t mean it will this year, and since he’ll most likely be wearing it for several months, making the necessary adjustments this fall can make a difference in his comfort level throughout the winter.”
NIcholls highlighted the points below to help you determine whether or not your blankets can go another round of frosty weather.
Look for these signs of change in your horse:
- Fluctuations in weight, up or down
- Training, which can increase muscle mass
- Idleness, which can reduce muscle mass
- Growth spurts
- Age, which over time will alter his shape, i.e., diminished top line, sagging belly
Does it fit?
- Start at the top edge, which should sit comfortably in front of the withers covering a few inches of mane with the lower edge angling down to the point of the shoulder without pulling. You should be able to slide your hand inside the blanket along the withers to the back and around the shoulders to the chest without restriction.
- The same holds true for the hips. Slide your hand under the blanket over the rump looking for tight areas.
- Even though most belly straps are adjustable, check to make sure that the settings from last season still allow enough room for you to slide your hand easily between them and the horse.
- Back leg straps can be tricky--too tight and they can irritate delicate skin on the inside of the legs, but too loose from stretched-out elastic can cause entanglements. If they’re attached with removable clips, you might be able to replace them.
- Check the overall length. It should cover the barrel ending just below the elbow and stifle to prevent drafts.
It’s too big if the outside edge extends more than halfway to the knee, hock and the tailhead, especially if it has a flap, which can inhibit the horse’s ability to lift his tail properly resulting in a real mess.
Conversely, a too small blanket will cause rubs, particularly at the shoulder, and it will be tight at the chest despite loosening the front closure. Plus, the belly and leg straps probably will need to be lengthened to the limit, although you’ll risk chafing.