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Tips for Horse: Caring for Your Horse Blankets

How to Care for Horse Blankets

 

In the best of all worlds, we’d all have a horse blanket fairy that takes our nasty turnout blankets away in the spring, repairs all the rips, washes them, re-proofs them, and stores them away neatly. Unfortunately, for most of us, “summer storage” means piling our blankets in the corner of tack room and dragging them out again when the temperature drops. 

Before you resort to buying new blankets, take a good look at your old ones.

Wash - Ideally, blankets would be repaired before washing, as washing may exacerbate any ripping. Unfortunately, horse blankets are frequently just too nasty to consider repairing until they are clean. For a moderately dirty blanket, a good rinse with the hose is your best bet. This will remove surface dirt, but not hurt the waterproofing. However, most blankets will need a more serious cleaning with soap. For this, make sure you use blanket wash, not detergent! Regular detergent will remove waterproofing from your blanket. Don’t use it! A standard washing machine can generally handle one blanket at a time; overloading your washer can damage the machine.  Make sure to buckle the surcingles and cover the Velcro, or the spin cycle will tangle the blanket.   Also, run the blanket through an extra rinse cycle. You want to make sure all the blanket wash is rinsed out.

Dry – DO NOT put your horse blankets in the dryer! Like detergent, the high heat of the dryer can damage the waterproofing. Hang your blankets outside and let them dry naturally. Be careful with heavy weight blankets; they need to be fully dry or they might mildew. 

Repair – Some blanket damage is repairable, some is not.   Small holes in the turnout can be repaired with a blanket repair kit, such as Rambo’s Stormsure. Follow directions on the label. You can also repair buckles and surcingles. Most blanket manufacturers sell replacement parts, and you can re-attach surcingles using a heavy duty sewing machine.   Velcro that no longer stays attached can be refreshed with Velcro brushes, and double check that you have all the rubber buckle keepers for your T-Lock buckles. Rips and tears are more difficult. Once the outer fabric on a blanket starts to tear, you may be able to temporarily repair it with heavy duty waxed thread, but it will probably not last long.   Time to buy a new blanket!

Waterproof – As long as you don’t use detergent, or a dryer, a good quality turnout blanket should stay water proof for at least two seasons, possibly three. If the blanket remains in good condition, you can extend its useful life with waterproofing.   Follow the directions on the label, and make sure the blanket is completely dry before using it on a horse.     

Blanket beyond repair? When selecting a new blanket, look at your old one and determine what did and did not work. Did it rub your horse’s shoulders? It may not have fit well; be sure to measure before buying a new one, and consider a different shoulder style, such as a HUG.   Did your horse destroy it in one season? Look for a blanket with a sturdier outer fabric, such as a Rambo.  Do you live in an extreme climate and have too many blankets? In that case, replace your old blankets with a liner system that has one outer blanket and multiple liner options. Do you blanket lots of horses daily? Look for “Euro” cut blankets that do not use leg straps. That’s two less buckles per blanket. Saves a lot of time and frozen fingers!          

 
 

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