Since I seem to be on a weather kick lately, I’ll stay on it long enough to discuss blankets. It’s a subject I feel strongly about, because for most horse owners, in most situations, horse blankets are a waste of money.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at the horse catalogues, through. According to the companies that make horse blankets, and the options each particular type offers, you’re doing your horse an injustice by not outfitting him with the latest, greatest, most expensive blanket available. I should have made that a plural—they think your horse deserves more than one. I think a review of the basic types is in order.
The first blanket is called a fly sheet. These are primarily for horses kept in stalls—at least during the daytime—and are, as the name implies (a sheet provides less warmth than a blanket), a very light-weight summer blanket primarily used to keep flies off your horse. Since most flies congregate around a horse’s face and front legs, and since most fly sheets don’t cover those portions of a horse’s anatomy, I find them fairly useless. In addition, if you keep your horse in a stall during the day and turn him out at night, when most insects (the exceptions are mosquitoes) are snoozing, you probably have fly spray in your barn. All in all, a waste of money.
The second is a cooler. They’re usually made of wool or some other breathable material that wicks sweat away from the horse’s skin and allows it to dissipate—and the only reason a horse will get that hot is if you show him or compete with him strenuously enough that he lathers up and sweats. Coolers have minimal fastenings (no buckles), and they’re designed to “drape,” not “fit.” Unless you show your horse, you don’t need one.
Winter blankets are the third and most popular category. Unless your horse is old and ailing, or does not grow a winter coat on his own, he doesn’t need you to buy one for him. Mother nature has already taken care of that. Unless you have your horse body-clipped for some reason, there’s no reason to buy him one. Do you think cow horses that spend the winter roaming around on thousand-acre ranches in Montana wear blankets?
I mean—c’mon. Do real men eat quinoa?