Horse Blankets: What You Need To Know

October 21, 2021

Do you sometimes wish you could bring your horse inside during the winter, share a cup of cocoa, and just watch the snow fall? Us too. The closest we get is trudging outside in our winter boots, with a hot beverage, to commiserate and agree that we can’t wait till Spring.

Whether your horse is clipped or unclipped you may need a blanket to help them ride out the winter season. Depending on where you’ve chosen to call home, you may have to blanket your horse. Blankets can be very useful when the temperatures become so low that you require a snowsuit and waders to get to the barn, especially if you like to show.

Read on to learn about how to measure your horse for a blanket and why your horse needs a blanket this winter.

Horses grazino in field wearing blankets

Why does my horse need a blanket?

You may be asking yourself “why does my horse need a blanket if they already have hair?” The answer could be several different reasons. Is your horse a hard keeper? Low temperatures cause horses to burn more calories, which pushes them to eat more food. Some horses have a higher metabolism and are considered hard keepers. This means that they can’t keep weight on without special supplements and extra food. Using a blanket that is correctly fitted will help keep your senior horse from dropping too much weight.

Is your horse elderly? Horses who are elderly don’t have the same system as they once did and may not be able to digest their food properly. If you show in the summer or spring a lightweight blanket or fly-sheet blanket can help keep the mud and stall mess off them when they roll.

Horse walking in snow wearing blanket

When does my horse need a blanket?

This depends on when the temperature drops or if you’ve shaved them or not. Some horses need a little extra help when it comes to keeping warm during the winter. If you live in temperatures of 20 degrees or colder, a blanket will be necessary. When the weather starts warming up transisioning your horse to a lighter blanket or sheet is a must, especially if your horse is allergic to flies. A thin flysheet will help prevent those nasty bugs from biting. Flysheets are breathable and good for late spring through mid-fall.

Only blanket your horse if they are completely dry. If there is moisture in the hair when you put their blanket on it could cause rain rot. Rain rot is caused by bacteria that is on your horses’ skin. It arises when your horse becomes wet for long periods. It is extremely contagious so, make sure that you’re not sharing blankets if your horse is housed with anyone besides themselves.

Horse wearing dirty blanket in paddock

How do I measure my horse for a blanket?

It is important to make sure that your horse has a blanket that fits properly. Too small and it won’t be effective or will rub. Too big and they could become entangled in it. Like Goldilocks and the 3 bears, it needs to fit just right. Blankets are measured and sized by inches. When you go to purchase your blanket if your horse measures 72 inches you’ll want to search for a size 72.

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You’ll need:

  • A flexible tape measure
    You can get a horse measuring tape or use a seamstress’ measuring tape.
  • A pen and paper
  • A helping hand


Step 1: Ask your friend to hold your horse, or tie them so they won’t be able to go anywhere

Step 2: Bring out your tape measure.

Step 3: Place the tape measure in the center of their chest, inch side up.

Step 4: Bring the tape measure around their side so that it is in a straight line.

Step 5: Measure to the tail and make sure to record the number so you don’t forget.

Horse wearing turn-out in pen

What blankets are best for different temperatures?

There are many different styles of blankets. Knowing your horse and how they do over the changing of the seasons will come in handy when purchasing a blanket. You wouldn’t put a heavyweight blanket on your horse in the summer, and you wouldn’t put a flysheet on your horse in a snowstorm.

Purchasing a blanket for a clipped horse will be different than for an unclipped horse. When you are staring at the mountain of blankets at your local Wilco Farm Store you’ll see on the label a number followed by the letter “D”. The “D” stands for Denier or density. Which is how thick the thread is used to create each blanket.:

  • Light: 210-420D
  • Medium: 600D
  • Tough: 1200D+

The larger the number the more durable the blanket is going to be. The inside of the blanket is filled with a material that is similar to what you would pull out of a stuffed animal. The more material, the cozier it will be.

Below 10 degrees

If you are in a region of the United States that gets below 10 degrees in the Wintertime, whether or not your horse is clipped, you will need a heavyweight blanket. If your horse is clipped you will need to add a sheet or liner and a neck covering.

Weatherbeeta, Comfitec Plus Dynamic Detach-A-Neck Heavy Turnout Blanket

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10-20 degrees

If your horse is unclipped a mid-heavyweight blanket is best for this scale of temperature. If your horse is clipped a heavyweight blanket with an extra sheet or liner is appropriate.

20-30 degrees

At this point, your horse still has a nice thick winter coat. Depending on which end of the 10-degree difference you are, and if rain or snow is accompanying the cold temperatures you will only need a mid-weight to lightweight blanket. However, if your horse is shaved or partially clipped you will still want to stick with the heavyweight blanket.

30-40 degrees

When the weather hits the 30-40 degree mark we could be anywhere between late winter and early spring, or even mid-fall. If your horse has their winter coat still intact or is just starting to shed out, they will only need a lightweight blanket. If they still have lots of winter hair and it’s 40 degrees outside, don’t put a blanket on them unless necessary.

If your horse is clipped they will still need that extra help keeping their core temperature from dropping. Make sure you’re using a mid-heavyweight blanket

50+ degrees

If it is 50 or more degrees outside your horse does not need a blanket. If your horse is allergic to flies or you are trying to keep them clean for show, a lightweight blanket or flysheet will be just fine.

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Didn’t find the style of blanket you were looking for here? Browse our website or stop into your local Wilco Farm Store for more options.

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