EQUUS - - EQ Hands On -

Your horse sure looks sharp in his new win­ter blan­ket. You can cross your fin­gers and hope it makes it to spring in­tact, or you can take the fol­low­ing four steps to help min­i­mize the risk of tears and other dam­age.

1. Make sure it fits. A blan­ket that is too big is more likely to be stepped on or snagged. Not only is that bad for the blan­ket, but it can cause in­jury to your horse. A too-snug fit strains seams and fas­ten­ers, mak­ing them more sus­cep­ti­ble to wear or fail­ure. Keep in mind that weight gain and loss can af­fect a blan­ket’s fit from year to year.

2. Ad­just the straps prop­erly. In ad­di­tion to se­cur­ing the chest and belly straps com­fort­ably, make sure they are po­si­tioned as the man­u­fac­turer in­tended. Most turnout blan­kets are de­signed so the straps cross each other un­der­neath the horse’s belly, and not do­ing so can strain the stitch­ing or lead to slip­page. Also, if the blan­ket has straps be­tween the hind legs, use them. This may mean or­der­ing re­place­ments if yours are long gone, but they will sta­bi­lize the blan­ket to keep it safely in place.

3. Keep it clean(ish). A horse’s blan­ket is never go­ing to be as clean as the one on your bed, but let­ting it get en­crusted with filth will shorten its use­ful life­span. Al­low wet mud and muck to dry, then re­move the dirt with a stiff brush. Hind-leg straps can get par­tic­u­larly gross, but those can be fairly eas­ily washed and dried quickly. You can “spot clean” ar­eas on the blan­ket with wa­ter on warmer days, but it’s help­ful to have a backup blan­ket avail­able for your horse to wear if a mid­win­ter trip to a horse-friendly laun­dro­mat is needed for a full wash­ing and dry­ing.

4. Store it prop­erly. When your horse isn’t wear­ing his blan­ket, store it on a rack, bar or even folded on top of a tack trunk, out of reach of other horses. Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to toss it on the floor of the aisle or over a stall wall where it can be stepped on, chewed up or oth­er­wise dam­aged.

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