As the colors change and the temperature begins to drop, it's time to think about pulling your blankets out of the barn loft. The correct blanket will help keep your four-legged friend comfortable and warm as the temperature changes, but over- or under-blanketing can lead to trouble.
Upper level event riders Daniel and Kaitlin Clasing share their tips to help you pick the right blanket for the weather and make sure it is properly fitted.
Daniel and Kaitlin Clasing's Top 10 Tips for Blanketing
Touch your horse! Whenever your horse is blanketed, stick a hand under their blanket and feel the tips of their ears. It’s good to have a guideline for blanketing based on temperature but at the end of the day you need to know your horse and what makes them the most comfortable.
With unclipped horses, less is more. Horses are very good at providing protection against the elements if given the chance. Over-rugging clipped horses can lead to skin issues as they can easily overheat and sweat under their blankets.
You can do a lot with a good quality rain sheet. Remember, sheets keep the horses dry while fill keep the horses warm. If you have a blanket with fill that isn’t waterproof you can always throw a sheet on top if you want your horse to stay both warm and dry.
If you’re working out of a busy barn, blanket for the high temperature at the start of the day. As long as horses have access to forage and can move around they can keep themselves warm. Think of those spring or fall days where the temperature can vary up to 20 degrees. It’s easy to think you’ll have time to switch blankets as the day goes on, but if the day gets away from you it’s better to have the horse under-blanketed at the start of the day the over-blanketed as the day goes on.
Layer wisely! If your horse is fully clipped and you find it necessary to layer blankets, do so with efficiency in mind. Check the weather for the next day. If tomorrow you will want your horse in a medium but tonight it’s cold enough to have him in a medium and heavy, put the heavy on top. Layering with weather for the next day in mind makes outfit changes much simpler.
Don’t skimp on coolers. In our barn, if you’re wearing a second layer the horse gets a cooler after work. It’s important to keep the horse’s muscles warm and give them a chance to cool down properly. And don’t be afraid to layer coolers. A scrim under a fleece or wool cooler provides a breathable layer in between a damp horse and the moisture-wicking layer.
Blanket care is worth the additional cost. Clean blankets help keep skin healthy. Plus, a small tear can easily become a huge hole that renders the blanket unusable. Keeping up with blanket repairs will protect your investment.
Pay attention to fit. Poorly fitting blankets are frequently the cause of tears or rubs and are also unsafe for your horse. A shoulder guard can help with rubs, but at the end of the day, a properly fitted blanket with properly adjusted straps is your best defense.
Store blankets for longevity. Once they are cleaned I like to set the blankets up on a pallet and cover them with a tarp. This keeps the blankets off the ground in case there is any moisture and covered so minimal dust builds up.
Keep yourself and your horse safe when blanketing. This may be the most important! Always halter your horse before blanketing so you have control. Secure your blanket in this order: chest straps, tail or leg straps, belly straps last. This way if your horse does become startled and move off suddenly the blanket won’t shift as badly and make the problem worse!
Five-star eventer Kim Severson taught a show jumping clinic in January at Milestone Sport Horses in Lovettsville, Virginia where she instructed riders on the importance of forward riding for successful jumping. In this exercise, which Severson progressively adds additional pieces to, riders are instructed to focus on the quality of their canter.
On Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Central time, join Eric Dierks for a live stream interview with David O'Connor. David was an alternate for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and riding Wilton Fair, was part of the U.S. team at the 1990 World Equestrian Games, where he placed 35th individually and the team finished fourth.
Billy Jackson was introduced to horses at a young age through his local 4-H program. “One of my mom's close friends was a large animal vet and she really encouraged me to stay with it,” Jackson said. As an adult, he is a Marketing Project Manager, and when he’s not at work, he’s a lower level eventer based at Poplar Place Farm.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
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