Okay, so a few things happened over the weekend that kept me from getting some things accomplished. One of them being getting pictures of our horses and the blanketing process... But I did manage to get a couple of other projects going instead, so I found some sense of a level of accomplishment.
In light of the fact that many have stated they do not normally blanket, there is still the need to look at blankets in general, as some people do not know much about them other than the go on the horse to help keep them warm. We may not blanket regularly- meaning every horse, every year, but having blankets on hand when needed is a comforting thought considering the opposite- scrambling to find one that fits in an emergency.
What I find in many situations is people buying a blanket and not knowing what they are looking for or at. Buying it, then figuring out it isn't even worth half the money they spent on it. Nothing sends people over the edge faster, than paying for something that just doesn't work.
Just like with horses, the type of blanket you are buying depends on what you are using it for. If the horse is going to be kept in a stall, inside a barn, then it may not necessarily need to be waterproof. If you are planning to turn the horse out while wearing their blanket and you live anywhere on planet earth where rains or snows- waterproof qualities are pretty high on your list of requirements.
A lot of blankets now use Denier to relay the information of the outer lay of material known as the shell. But what does Denier mean? What are those numbers anyways? From the words of wise geek-
"Denier is a measurement that is used to identify the fiber thickness of individual threads or filaments used in the creation of cloth, carpeting drapery material, and similar products. Originally, the concept of denier was applied mainly to natural fibers, such as silk and cotton. Over time, the unit of thickness for synthetic fibers such as rayon and nylon also came to be identified as denier.
Along with being a measure of the thickness of the individual fibers of yarn or thread, denier also acts as a unit of weight. The standard for computing the weight is to weigh nine thousand meters of the material that will be used to create a product. That weight per nine thousand meters is registered in grams. The higher the numbers of grams per nine thousand meters of material, the higher the denier count."
So the short form of this would be- the higher the number (600, 800, 1200...) the more threads or filaments you will find in the designated measurable area of the material. Many times the higher thread count fabrics are stronger, more durable and more weather resistant.
Breathability is another important quality to consider. In speaking with a friend in a colder climate state, they have had horses freeze up, under their blankets because the blanket does not breath, the horse sweats and the sweat turns to ice. Not a good situation for the horse, not good for the owner who thought they were doing the right thing and not good for the blanket company because their customers will soon look for something else.
The amount of fill or insulation in a blanket is another important factor to consider. Warmth trapped in pockets of air between layers can be great insulation. Many of the older style blankets used foam padding as insulation. While it may work in some areas, it doesn't work in all areas. A lot of what is seen in blankets now is a material such as fiberfill or batting, which is commonly used in quilts and other such blankets that you may find on your own bed. Information on horse blankets lists the ounces of insulation material used to describe the thickness and insulating properties. The higher the number, the greater the insulation properties and the more likely the build up of heat if the blanket lacks breathability.
Another consideration is the lining of the blanket. Ripstop nylons and even taffeta are used to prevent hair loss due to rubbing. Some blankets and sheets are lined with fleece and some with a thick wool felt. My issue with fleece is it seems to hold and gather static electricity, in turn zapping either you, your horse or both when it comes time to apply, shift or remove the blanket. There's a real confidence builder for a youngster or an otherwise already skittish horse...
So what the blankets are made up of is pretty important when you are considering spending your hard earned money on one. You want something that will work, that will provide warmth and that will be comfortable for you horse. Fit issues will be the next post. Because it doesn't matter how great the blanket is, the workmanship that goes into it, the materials it is made from or how much it costs if it just doesn't fit right. Just ask you horse.