Uncovering Common Horse Blanketing Questions and Answers

Updated May 15, 2023
Chestnut horse in the SmartPak Deluxe Turnout Blanket with Earth friendly fabric.

There are many things to know about blanketing; sizing, weight, denier, and straps. What do each of these mean, and how do they apply to your horse? We’ve answered some of the most common horse blanket questions so you can be confident next time you need to blanket. 

Can you blanket a wet horse?

You don’t ever want to blanket your horse when he’s wet. If you can’t bring your horse in for a couple of hours to allow him to dry before blanketing for the night, you’re probably best off leaving him uncovered. Regarding blanketing, horses are more likely to end up too hot than too cold, so it’s better to err on the side of too few layers.

Does the horse’s age affect whether they should wear a blanket and which blanket to use?

 A horse’s age can have an impact on blanketing. As horses grow older, the act of regulating their own body temperature can become more difficult. Also, older horses may have a harder time keeping weight on since they are typically less efficient at utilizing their food and have less fat on their bodies overall. Each senior horse is a unique case, though the decision to blanket or not to blanket should be made individually.

Do you need to blanket hard keepers?

 Thermoregulation uses lots of energy and calories. If your horse is constantly shivering, he will use a lot of energy to stay warm, which could lead to weight loss. If your horse is toasty all winter but is still losing weight, consider putting him on a weight gain supplement. Options such as SmartGain or CoolStance Copra to get him some extra calories. If your hard keeper needs some encouragement to finish his meals, you could also try feeding SmartAppetite, a supplement that coats your horse’s grain and is designed to support a normal appetite. 

Should I blanket my body-clipped 5-year-old even though she is of good weight?

If you’re removing your young mare’s natural layer of protection, you should definitely replace that with a blanket if she is outside or in cold-weather conditions.

Can you tell if a horse is too warm or cold by feeling his skin under the blanket?

 You can use the “skin test” by placing your hand under the blanket around the shoulder or back to see how your horse is feeling. You should move up a layer or weight if he feels chilly. However, if you’re unsure, it’s always best to use too few or too light of a blanket rather than too many that are heavy. If your horse gets too hot, he will start to sweat, which can become trapped moisture, causing a chill when the temperature dips.

What is the best blanket fit for an Arabian?

If you have a narrowly built horse, like an Arabian, streamlined blankets like the Weatherbeeta line and  by Horseware Ireland which usually offer a great fit. SmartPak blankets also feature highly adjustable front closures that fit various body types, including horses that are narrower through the shoulders. Be sure to look for a high neck style to help avoid wither rubs and a smooth lining like nylon (rather than wool or acrylic yarn), which will be much gentler on sensitive coats and skin.

Do you have any recommendations for blanketing unclipped outside horses after workouts?

You will definitely want to plan a long cool-out time for your horse after your rides to allow the sweat to fully dry off before turning him out. Using a cooler or fleece while you’re cooling down will help wick that sweat away. If you turn your horse out with a waterproof turnout blanket, layer over a fleece to help manage moisture by wicking.

What about horse blanket hoods?

Traditional horse blanket hoods refer to full face coverage, and are not usually waterproof. Opt for a neck cover or neck rug if you want extended coverage and waterproofing. Whichever one you choose, you’ll need to make sure it’s designed to match the blanket you’re pairing it with or it won’t attach securely.

What does waterproofing a blanket mean?

Some “after-market” products are applied to fabric to make it waterproof. These can be sprayed on or washed in to create a special coating that essentially makes the fabric waterproof. These products can occasionally have unexpected results when interacting with fabrics, so it’s best to spot-test them in a small, discreet area. Different exterior fabrics require different treatments, so you’ll always want to read the instructions carefully.

What is GORE-TEX®? 

GORE-TEX® is a proprietary waterproof membrane and is one of many ways to waterproof fabric thanks to advances in fabric technology. Many popular turnout blankets offer waterproof guarantees to keep your horse dry and warm.

The information provided in the Horsemanship Library is based solely on our SmartPak authors' opinions. SmartPak strongly encourages you to consult your veterinarian or equine professionals regarding specific questions about your horse's health, care, or training. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or behavior and is purely educational.