Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Back a post or two ago, NCCatnip asked about blanket care and storage. I have to say that is a Great topic to cover! We buy them to keep the horses warm, but what do we do to take care of them? Taking care of your horses blanket keeps you from having to buy a new one every year. Considering the prices some are commanding- that can get pretty expensive.
As far as washing them goes, I know plenty of people who used to go to the local laundromat and hog the huge machines in the back. Packing the blankets in garbage bags to hide what they are, enter through the back door- hoping not to be noticed and sorta went under cover to have a clean horse blanket.
One farm I was at had a washer and dryer set up in a spare tack room. This was for blankets, polo's, English pads, coolers, shipping boots, wraps of all kinds, sheets and even the heavy stable blankets as needed. It was a Heavy Duty machine and it certainly did the trick! Anything that fit, in it went.
One thing I have found, is that Craigslist is a great place to find washers and dryers. Washers being more useful than the dryers, often cheap- $50-$100 for one that works, sometimes even freebies can be found. People are always moving and dumping appliances or selling the old ones when they buy new ones. Finding one for a price you are willing to pay and you are on your way to not worrying about sending the blankets out again.
Once you find your washer and bring it home, you will need a place to put it. Somewhere within a reasonable distance to power and water, drainage being another consideration. In the garden area of the local hardware store and you will find a Y shaped fitting for around $10. Ace Hardware has them online in a few different styles and you can have one shipped right to your door. Connect the garden hose to the Y, both of the washer hoses to the Y and your set up is almost complete.
For another $30, a swimming pool hose can be purchased for attaching the drain hose to. Slip the drain hose inside and clamp them together. Be sure to keep the hose going up as if it were going into the drain in your laundry room. Otherwise it will let all of the water out during the wash or soak part of the cycle. If you are using Eco friendly soap, you can then run the pool hose out to nearby plants and water the landscaping while getting clean horse blankets and pads... Yay! You are now multitasking at it's best!
When you plug the machine in, be sure the power cord has what is called a 'drip loop'. Basically it is a part of the cord being lower than the plug. If the water lines spring a leak and the cord gets wet, the water will run down the cord and drip off instead of going into the outlet. This can prevent a hellacious shock as well as electrocution or at the very least blown circuit breakers and tripped GFI outlets.
If this is just not an option where you are, I have found throwing the blankets over a hitching rail or fence and spraying them with the hose and a nozzle can work just as well. Wetting both sides evenly keeps the blanket from slipping off while you are working on it. When the top is clean, grab the wither area and pull straight back along the fence line to 'flip' it over.
It takes a bit more effort on your part, but the what about horses has ever been known to be easy? If the dirt or manure is a bit stubborn, get out your body brushes squirt some shampoo on it and get to work scrubbing. After rinsing it all clean and making sure the soap has been removed- you can leave it on the fence to dry, If you are in a warm enough climate to do so.
In the spring this may not be so much of a problem, but if you need the blanket that night you can wring as much water out as you can by rolling, twisting and squeezing it as best you can. I try to lay it over the fence, lining side out and front on one side of the fence, back on the other. This way the water runs down and if anything is left wet- it's the very front and back edges of the blanket.
Once the blanket is clean, if you wish to store it for the summer, I have found that the plastic bags your own bedding comes in- comforters for larger blankets- works really well. I can usually fold a few blankets and fit them nicely inside for storage.
This is actually two blankets and there is still plenty of room for a couple more. The black one is the blanket in need of repairs as can be seen by the piece of the lining hanging out there. I have pictures of this process and I will be featuring it soon for those who are willing to give it a shot. The green one is a yearling size Weatherbeeta turnout sheet.
I lay them out on their side fold the straps all up inside. Fold the front third of the blanket towards the back. It should reach to about the flank area. Fold the back third into the middle- back of the blanket reaching the girth area. Now fold the top down, folding it all in half and put it into the bag. Zip it shut and it's ready to be stored wherever it will be handy but out of the way until it is needed again.
You may choose to put a cedar block inside the bag, scented air freshener packets or even mothballs, but as long as you put the bags where there is no bug problems, it should be ready for use when you pull it out of the bag in the spring.
Strange how we are discussing putting the blankets away, when we are more likely to be pulling them out for use. Maybe a recap in the spring? It could happen.