Blanketing Your Horses Simplified
Owning a barn in the winter is full of challenges. From plowing snow to keeping water buckets from freezing, you’ll have plenty of work ahead of you. But one chore – blanketing – is particularly time-consuming. These five tips can help to simplify your blanketing to save you time and frustration.
Minimize Your Blanketing
Perhaps the best way to simplify your blanketing program is to minimize the amount that you need to blanket your horses. If a horse has the winter off from riding, or is retired, let them grow their coats out and go without blankets as much as possible. The fewer the number of horses who need blankets, the easier the chore will be throughout the winter.
Test Blankets Early
Different brands of blankets have different fits, so if you have a new horse in your barn, start trying on blankets before you actually need to use them. This is also a good time to check over your blankets for any repairs that may be needed.
Fold Blankets Right
If you don’t yet know how to fold a blanket neatly so that straps aren’t hanging out at all angles, take a few minutes to learn. This simple technique can minimize the space that blankets take up, while also tidying up the entire appearance of your barn. Plus, there’s no wrestling with uncooperative straps when you’re hanging the blanket on the blanket bar or removing it to put it on your horse.
Beat Static Electricity
Static electricity can be a pain – literally – in the winter when you’re changing blankets. It can also make young or sensitive horses reluctant to stand still for blanketing.
You can use a variety of grooming sprays designed to help prevent static shock. When you go to remove a blanket, fold it back on itself twice, then lift it off of the horse, rather than pulling it down the horse’s side. These strategies can help to minimize static shock so both you and your horse will be more comfortable.
Decide on a Strategy
You’ll need to think about when you start to blanket, and which blanket weights are appropriate for different temperatures. If you have a heated barn, this may mean removing blankets when horses come indoors and using them only for turnout. If your barn is a more open design, then your horses may need blankets both indoors and outdoors, depending on your climate.
Some horse owners rely on SmartPak’s Blanketing App, which can make blanketing suggestions based on your horse’s condition (such as clipped versus unclipped) and the weather forecast in your area. Other owners decide to come up with their own blanketing strategy.
Regardless of how you come up with your blanketing strategy, share it with everyone who will be caring for your horses. Different horses may need different blankets at different times, so it’s best to have a written strategy for each horse in a central area. This can help to prevent unknowingly and suddenly changing up a horse’s blanketing strategy, which could leave a horse too warm or too cold.
Hopefully you’ll have a mild winter and your blanketing chores will be minimal. But if they aren’t, these tips can help to reduce your workload.
Do you blanket your horses in the winter?