Horse blanket

Last updated
A winter turnout blanket with tail cover, suitable for severe weather 'Cavalli della Madonna' im Marstall des Klosters Einsiedeln 2013-01-26 14-11-05 (P7700).JPG
A winter turnout blanket with tail cover, suitable for severe weather
Blankets are often used when shipping horses to prevent chills and even out temperature changes. Here, one of the Budweiser Clydesdales is wearing a horse blanket. ClydeWithBlanket.jpg
Blankets are often used when shipping horses to prevent chills and even out temperature changes. Here, one of the Budweiser Clydesdales is wearing a horse blanket.

A horse blanket or rug is a blanket or animal coat intended for keeping a horse or other equine warm or otherwise protected from wind or other elements. They are tailored to fit around a horse's body from chest to rump, with straps crossing underneath the belly to secure the blanket yet allowing the horse to move about freely. Most have one or two straps that buckle in front, but a few designs have a closed front and must be slipped over a horse's head. Some designs also have small straps that loop lightly around the horse's hind legs to prevent the blanket from slipping sideways. [1]


Protection from the elements

Standard horse blankets are commonly kept on a horse when it is loose in a stall or pasture as well as when traveling. Different weights are made for different weather conditions, and some are water-resistant or waterproof. Modern materials similar to those used in human outdoor wear are commonly used in blanket manufacture.

Blankets are sometimes used to keep the horse's hair short. If horses are blanketed at the beginning of the autumn, especially if kept in a lighted area for 16 hours a day, they will not grow a winter coat. Blankets also protect horses that are kept with a short clipped hair coat for show purposes. When a horse is given a full body clip, or even a partial "trace clip", it needs to have a blanket kept on at all times if the weather is cool because the horse no longer has the natural insulation of a longer hair coat. If a blanket is put on a horse at the beginning of the winter in order to suppress the growth of a winter coat, or if the horse is kept clipped in cold weather, the blanket cannot be taken off until warmer weather arrives in the spring. If a horse is subjected to cold weather without either a blanket or a natural hair coat to keep it warm, it may become ill, and vulnerable to sicknesses such as influenza.

A hood, showing openings for eyes and ears Pferdedecke Kopfteil.jpg
A hood, showing openings for eyes and ears
Horses wearing knotted cord fly sheets, 1910 Horse and buggy 1910.jpg
Horses wearing knotted cord fly sheets, 1910

Heavy blankets for warmth make up the bulk of the horse blanket market, but lightweight blankets may be used in the summer to help the animal ward off flies and to prevent the hair coat from bleaching out. Such blankets are usually called a "sheet" or a "fly sheet". They are usually made of some type of nylon or strong synthetic fiber, but with the capacity to "breathe" so that the animal remains cool. Most have a smooth nylon lining in front to prevent hair from wearing off on the shoulders. They are becoming increasingly popular, particularly with the rise of insect borne diseases such as West Nile fever.

A horse wearing a summer fly sheet with attached neck cover, light blankets ward off insects and prevent coat bleaching FlySheet1.jpg
A horse wearing a summer fly sheet with attached neck cover, light blankets ward off insects and prevent coat bleaching

Any blanket may be supplemented with a neck cover or a full hood. Neck covers are often attached directly to the blanket. Hoods are a separate piece of horse "clothing", which cover the neck and come down the head to just above the muzzle of the horse, with holes cut for the eyes and ears. Summer weight hoods and neck covers help keep away insects and are also frequently used to keep a horse clean before a horse show. Winter weight hoods are used for warmth. [1]

Saddle blankets

A police horse wearing a quarter sheet Policja konna Poznan.jpg
A police horse wearing a quarter sheet

A blanket or pad used under a saddle when a horse is being ridden is called by many names, including a saddle blanket, saddle cloth, numnah, and saddle pad. They usually do not cover the horse's entire body, though a hybrid design that is a cross between a saddle blanket and a horse blanket, called a quarter sheet, is a blanket placed under the saddle but which covers the horse from shoulder to hip while riding. Quarter sheets are sometimes used in cold weather to keep a horse's muscles loosened up when warming up for competition, or on horses that may have to stand around when under saddle and run the risk of stiffening up if their muscles get chilled.

Other designs

A horse wearing a cooler 50mile-massage.jpg
A horse wearing a cooler

A cooler or a mantle, is a large, nearly square blanket with ties that is draped over a horse that is hot and sweaty from an intense workout, or one that has just been bathed and is wet all over. It is commonly made of wool or synthetic fleece, though a few designs are made of woven cotton. It is worn as the horse is being walked to cool down and allows enough air circulation for the horse to dry, but slows the rate of drying to prevent the horse from becoming hypothermic. It is designed so it can be tied shut in front; most designs have a small browband which can be used to keep it positioned well up on the neck, and it may have a loose cord that goes beneath the tail to prevent the wind from blowing it off from the rear, but usually it has no other straps or attachments. It is intended to be used on a horse while the animal is being led or held by a person, and not left on an unattended horse. In windy weather, a loose surcingle may be added to prevent the cooler from blowing completely off. [1]

A traditionally-shaped blanket of loosely crocheted cotton, called an anti-sweat sheet, is used to absorb moisture. [2] Often used alone to wick moisture from the surface of the horse, if placed under a cooler, it is removed when it becomes wet.

A barrier blanket is sometimes used in Australian Thoroughbred racing. This blanket weighs about 40 kilograms and is placed over the horse prior to entering the starting stalls. It is then tied to the back of the stalls after the horse has been loaded and remains in the barrier as the horse jumps. Quite a few horses respond positively to it and are more easily loaded and are calmer in the stalls. [3]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Price The Whole Horse Catalog rev. ed. p. 192-194
  2. Anti-sweat sheet photo
  3. Racing Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine

Related Research Articles

Tack is equipment or accessories equipped on horses and other equines in the course of their use as domesticated animals. Saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits, harnesses, martingales, and breastplates are all forms of horse tack. Equipping a horse is often referred to as tacking up. A room to store such equipment, usually near or in a stable, is a tack room.

Spray deck Flexible waterproof cover for a boat

A spraydeck is a flexible waterproof cover for a boat with holes for the passengers' waists. Spraydecks are used to prevent water from entering the boat while allowing passengers to paddle or row.


A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse. As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, the "bridle" includes both the headstall that holds a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse, and the reins that are attached to the bit.

Blanket sleeper

The blanket sleeper is a type of especially warm sleeper or footie pajama worn primarily during the winter in the United States and Canada. The garment is worn especially by young children.

Rug (animal covering)

A rug (UK), blanket, or coat is a covering or garment made by humans to protect their pets from the elements, as in a horse rug or dog coat.

A martingale is any of several designs of tack that are used on horses to control head carriage. Martingales may be seen in a wide variety of equestrian disciplines, both riding and driving. Rules for their use vary widely; in some disciplines they are never used, others allow them for schooling but not in judged performance, and some organizations allow certain designs in competition.

Girth (tack)

A girth, sometimes called a cinch, is a piece of equipment used to keep the saddle in place on a horse or other animal. It passes under the barrel of the equine, usually attached to the saddle on both sides by two or three leather straps called billets. Girths are used on Australian and English saddles, while western saddles and many pack saddles have a cinch, which is fastened to the saddle by a single wide leather strap on each side, called a latigo.

There are many aspects to horse management. Horses, ponies, mules, donkeys and other domesticated equids require attention from humans for optimal health and long life.

Horse showmanship

Showmanship is an event found at many horse shows. The class is also sometimes called "Fitting and Showmanship", "Showmanship In-Hand", "Showmanship at Halter" or "Halter Showmanship" It involves a person on the ground leading a horse, wearing a halter or bridle, through a series of maneuvers called a pattern. The horse itself is not judged on its conformation. Rather, the exhibitor is judged on how well he or she exhibits the animal to its best advantage, with additional scoring for the grooming and presentation of both horse and handler.

Collar (animal)

An animal collar is a device that attaches to the neck of an animal to allow it to be harnessed or restrained.

Saddle seat

Saddle seat is a style of horse riding within the category of English riding that is designed to show off the high action of certain horse breeds. The style developed into its modern form in the United States, and is also seen in Canada and South Africa. To a much lesser extent, it is ridden with American action horse breeds in Europe and Australia. The horse breeds mainly used for this flashy style are typically the showy Morgan Horse, and the high stepping American Saddlebred.

Breastplate (tack)

A breastplate is a piece of riding equipment used on horses. Its purpose is to keep the saddle or harness from sliding back.


The saddle is a supportive structure for a professional other load, fastened to an animal's back by a girth. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a horse. However, specialized saddles have been created for oxen, camels and other creatures. It is not known precisely when riders first began to use some sort of padding or protection, but a blanket attached by some form of surcingle or girth was probably the first "saddle", followed later by more elaborate padded designs. The solid saddle tree was a later invention, and though early stirrup designs predated the invention of the solid tree. The paired stirrup, which attached to the tree, was the last element of the saddle to reach the basic form that is still used today. Today, modern saddles come in a wide variety of styles, each designed for a specific equestrianism discipline, and require careful fit to both the rider and the horse. Proper saddle care can extend the useful life of a saddle, often for decades. The saddle was a crucial step in the increased use of domesticated animals, during the Classical Era.

Horse markings Colored areas, usually white, on a horse that differ from the body color

Markings on horses are usually distinctive white areas on an otherwise dark base coat color. Most horses have some markings, and they help to identify the horse as a unique individual. Markings are present at birth and do not change over the course of the horse's life. Most markings have pink skin underneath most of the white hairs, though a few faint markings may occasionally have white hair with no underlying pink skin. Markings may appear to change slightly when a horse grows or sheds its winter coat, however this difference is simply a factor of hair coat length; the underlying pattern does not change.

Horse grooming

Horse grooming is hygienic care given to a horse, or a process by which the horse's physical appearance is enhanced for horse shows or other types of competition.

Horse harness is a device that connects a horse to a vehicle or another type of load.

Glossary of equestrian terms List of definitions of terms and concepts related to horses

This is a basic glossary of equestrian terms that includes both technical terminology and jargon developed over the centuries for horses and other equidae, as well as various horse-related concepts. Where noted, some terms are used only in American English (US), only in British English (UK), or are regional to a particular part of the world, such as Australia (AU).

Tail (horse)

The tail of the horse and other equines consists of two parts, the dock and the skirt. The dock consists of the muscles and skin covering the coccygeal vertebrae. The term "skirt" refers to the long hairs that fall below the dock. On a horse, long, thick tail hairs begin to grow at the base of the tail, and grow along the top and sides of the dock. In donkeys and other members of Equus asinus, as well as some mules, the zebra and the wild Przewalski's horse, the dock has short hair at the top of the dock, with longer, coarser skirt hairs beginning to grow only toward the bottom of the dock. Hair does not grow at all on the underside of the dock.

Saddle blanket A blanket underneath the saddle to protect the horses back

The terms saddle blanket, saddle pad, and saddle cloth refer to blankets, pads or fabrics inserted under a saddle. These are usually used to absorb sweat, cushion the saddle, and protect the horse's back. There are lighter types of saddle cloth, such as the shabrack, used primarily for decorative purposes, often placed over the top of a more utilitarian pad.

Cowboy bedroll

The cowboy bedroll was an American Old West precursor to the modern sleeping bag, which carried a man's bed and some personal belongings in a waterproof shell. In Australia, it was called a swag.


Commons-logo.svg Media related to Horse blankets at Wikimedia Commons