Your horse’s first line of defense against the oncoming chill
Turnout blankets are waterproof and safe for use inside and out in the turnout or pasture. In addition to being waterproof, turnouts also tend to have a heavier denier, which means they’re tougher and can stand up to outdoor elements, like rough ground (or rough pasture mates!).
Light Turnout Blankets
A light turnout blanket provides ample waterproof protection without added warmth. When deciding if this weight is right for your horse, think of it like your rain coat. It doesn’t necessarily provide much warmth, but in a storm it protects you from the wind and rain, keeping you warmer than you would be if you were soaked to the bone.
The same goes for your horse—use this light layer to keep him dry in mildly cold weather, so he doesn’t risk catching a chill.
Now you’re probably wondering what exactly “mildly cold” means. Well, it means different things to different horses. One of the biggest factors is whether or not your horse is body clipped. Going back to the rain coat analogy for a moment, think about wearing it over a tee shirt versus a thick wool sweater—what you’ve got underneath can really affect your comfort level. If your horse is body clipped, a light turnout is generally good for temperatures in the 40s, while unclipped horses should be comfortable from 40 degrees down to the low 30s.
Denier: A unit of weight that measures the fineness or density of fiber filaments. The higher the denier (D), the stronger the fabric weave. However, not all “deniers” are created equal. Nylon is heavier than polyester, so it’s stronger at a lower denier, meaning 1000 D nylon is stronger than 1000 D polyester, accounting for the difference in price.
Polyester: This synthetic fabric isn’t as tough as nylon, so polyester blankets are usually cheaper. If your horse isn’t too rough on blankets, this is a great way to save money!
Ballistic Nylon: A term used for any nylon made with a “ballistic weave,” which is a dense basketweave pattern, originally designed for WWII-era flak jackets.
Ripstop: A special weave designed with reinforcements that prevent tears from expanding.
Medium Turnout Blankets
As the mercury drops a little further and winter starts settling in, your horse is going to need protection from more than just the wind and rain. He’s going to need some extra insulation to keep him warm and cozy. Enter the medium turnout blanket. Ranging from about 150 –250 grams of fill, medium turnout blankets are more substantial than their lightweight counterparts, so they’re perfect for chillier temperatures. Keep in mind that every horse is different, but generally speaking medium weight turnouts are great for temperatures in the 30s if you horse is clipped, and digits down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit if he’s got a full coat underneath.
Since your horse’s medium weight turnout will likely be his most-used piece of apparel, it’s a great idea to have a spare on hand in case his needs a wash or gets torn by a mischievous pasture pal.
Heavy Turnout Blankets
Like heavyweight boxers, these blankets mean business! They’re the warmest of the warm, and usually the toughest of the tough, because when winter’s at its worst, you want to know your horse is covered.
Heavy turnout blankets pack an impressive 300– 400 grams of fill and are designed for the dead of winter. If your horse is clipped, he should wear a heavy when temperatures are in the 20s. If he’s not clipped, this layer is appropriate for weather down into the teens. If your winter weather dips below that, think about adding a neck rug or hood, and take a peek at our layering tips on the next page.
While we’re on the subject of bundling up, let’s talk about over-blanketing.
Remember, your horse can’t shed a layer after he runs around in the sun. Instead his body heat gets trapped, causing him to overheat and sweat. So try not to project your feelings about the bone-chilling weather onto your horse (and don’t assume that thicker layers equal more love). Instead, stick to the temperature guide and the advice of your barn manager, trainer, or veterinarian. Your horse will thank you!
Courtesy of SmartPak