Tuesday, November 22, 2022

winter wardrobe 2022-23

Whoa, winter arrived in Maryland this week. Luckily NOT in the form of mass precipitation (sorry, Northwestern NY...) --- but definitely with temperature drops. 

Naturally, that brings us to everybody's favorite time of year: Blanketing Season!

thing you might not know about charlie: homeboy is disinclined to pose, kthxbai
So. Let's talk horse wardrobes, yes?

To start off, I use a basic rubric to decide what Charlie will wear. There's obvi gray area when conditions straddle the boundaries (whether by temperature or precipitation), but by and large -- this guide works for us. 

my blanketing guide - how does it compare to yours?
Since context matters for this sort of thing, here are some considerations:
- Charlie is stalled overnight, and outside during daytime 
- Blanketing is not included at our barn. He'll typically wear whatever I put him in for ~24hrs
- I tend to prefer a chilly horse to an overheated horse, and Charlie runs hot. YMMV

Harrison Hall shoulder bib / rub guard, going into its 3rd winter
So, how does that translate to actual blankets? My ideal blanketing wardrobe includes some super waterproof outer shells with a selection of different liner weights. Sadly, said ideal wardrobe clocked in at ~$750+ last time I built a dream cart LOL, so.... I work with what I've got...

Number 1 Required Item: a rub guard for Charlie's gigantic shoulders. This bib style guard is head and shoulders (lol puns) above the elastic slinky style, imho. It lays loose around his neck, eliminating any binding or rubbing, and Charlie does not go a blanketed day without it. 

flashback pic to an older version of the Mio Turnout sheet, this year's version is all navy with red trim
Next up - Sheets! I have.... wow, so many sheets.... For real tho, if you're going to have extras of anything... Let it be the waterproof outer shells.

The Mio turnout is a cornerstone of Charlie's wardrobe --- tho the actual sheet itself gets replaced about every 18mos (or sooner if your horse is hard on blankets) bc it is NOT very durable. 

What it lacks in sturdability tho, it more than makes up for in being suuuuper waterproof. It's basically a glorified tarp cut to horse size. It's perfect for those borderline days in spring/fall, and makes an amazing top layer during heavy precipitation.  

Dover Rider's International zero fill turnout sheet
This year, I added a second variation of basically the same idea -- this time from Dover. This sheet was brand new with tags for $40 at After the Races' booth at the Maryland 5*. They had a whole basket full of 84" blankets and coolers etc that I'm assuming were donations. 

Obviously I'm always all about supporting Charlie's alma mater, plus -- what a deal!

wet pony is wet. and wants his hay plz!
This will be my first season with this particular brand, but based on first impressions I expect it'll function like the Mio. Maybe won't be super hardcore, but very useful to have on hand -- esp during periods where we get a lot of precipitation (wet blankets take forever to dry, ya know!). 

this weatherbeeta was a handmedown back in 2016... is kinda beat up but still kickin'
For "medium" and "heavy" days, Charlie has an ancient Weatherbeeta with a high neck. I don't even know how old this thing is, but.... It's old. It's been repaired six ways from Sunday, and is not at all waterproof anymore. But... It's warm, and the high neck makes a big difference esp on windy days.  

Horseware of Ireland 100g blanket liner (old picture)
Adding a 100g blanket liner to the mix rounds out the wardrobe. This liner gives me tons of flexibility to mix-n-match with everything else. It's not a particularly durable piece of material... but it's so useful, I've replaced it no fewer than 2-3 times. 

I also have two other sheets (a Smartpak and an Amigo) that are.... Not particularly waterproof anymore. But are just a little bit heavier (still sheets, tho), and tougher than the Dover and Mio above. They are good both on their own and with the liner on dry days. Basically... I'm a big fan of sheets bc winter is wet here in Maryland, so having interchangeable outer layers is critical for keeping the horses dry.

Dover Rider's International zero fill neck cover (old picture)
also this pic is a nice example of layering -- charlie is wearing the Mio as a waterproof layer on top of his medium, with the neck cover. yea he looks homeless... but he's warm and dry!
Last item in Charlie's closet is a zero fill neck cover. Charlie wears this maybe half a dozen times a winter. It's old and kinda ratty, but I'm grateful for it on the days it gets used (high wind or heavy precipitation days, etc). 

as far as i'm concerned, these products (or versions thereof) are critical winter essentials
Whew, ok. Let's wrap up with some products that are essential winter-specific kit for us. 

First -- I've written extensively about battling static with Charlie. Aside from always wearing gloves, the best protectors against nonconsensual zaps are liberal use of grooming sprays and hand lotion. I'm cheap, so I use hair products meant for actual children LOL, and am a huge fan of this Mane 'n Tail Hoofmaker lotion. 

coat defense powder in action 
Meanwhile, I have three primary uses for the Coat Defense Powder:

1. Dry shampoo (as in the gif above). Work it in and brush it out for a nice healthy shine
2. Treatment for low grade skin funk and irritation (tho I would not consider this "medicated" enough for anything really established). 
3. It works like 'baby powder' under blankets. I use this powder across Charlie's topline to keep things fresh and dry when he's blanketed for days on end. 

handsome sir!
So. Very long story short, Charlie has an established winter wardrobe and routine built around his unique circumstances and the array of products I already own. Things might look different if I started again from scratch (with unlimited budget, natch). But it is what it is, and it works for us. 

I'm curious -- does your routine look similar? Do you use a similar blanketing guide to the above? Or maybe your horses live in a style requiring a different type of approach? For instance, Isabel's barn provided 2x daily blanketing services, meaning she could have a more curated wardrobe. 

Let me know what you do, tho -- and especially if you have any tried 'n true products or approaches that your horse can't live without! 


  1. Mine has been very wimpy this year. Blanketing is also not provided at mine and he lives outside 24/7 with no shelter. But we're also in the south so it hasn't been too bad. But this year he's been shaking with cold when it's 40 which he never used to do. Vet doesn't know why but it means I've been driving lots since the barn is 50 miles away. I've also bought more of the waterproof ones since wet and cold seems to be the new norm now-40s and rainy when it's usually much warmer.

    1. ugh yea we have a pony like that at our barn, this is our first winter with him and he's proving to just be a little needy in the blanketing department. charlie used to be more of a pansy, but has toughened up with the addition of about 200lbs post-track-life LOL... tho tbh i expect he'll maybe want more coziness as he ages. who knows tho. anyway, the waterproof stuff is really where it's at -- esp if you want to be able to leave something on for a longer period in borderline conditions. That Mio is fantastic and i'm so far pretty happy with this Dover Riders International sheet.

  2. We do not usually see cold like y'all see cold. Also, I have two growing babies and one fat transplant from Ohio. lol Winter around here looks much like summer, with a side of "...Hey, BM, do I need to bring Cessa's blanket up for the storm coming in?" (which is usually a no). I did recently have to replace her blanket, though, because apparently the nice striped Weatherbeeta I had was EVIL AND WRONG and all the other horses chase her out of the herd when she wears it. Curious to see if it's a "nobody wears blankets" problem or if it was just the stripes... if we get blanketing weather this year.

    1. ha! yea there are definitely some funky blanket designs out there that make me wonder what the other horses must be thinking .... LOL.... it's honestly so nice to have horses that are happy without blankets most of the time. about half the horses (if not a little more) at my barn, particularly the ponies, go naked all year round and do just fine. i like keeping charlie semi-sleek tho, and obvi i clip him, so... eh, we blanket and it's fine too!

  3. We do am and pm blanket changes as needed which is helpful in this horrible state where it's 20* overnight and 50s during the day 🙄 Opie is fueled by rage so he runs hot. Even body clipped he only gets out of his high neck medium for a 300g heavy if it's single digits or lower.

    1. lol, i too am nourished by the warmth of my inner rage ;) also yea i don't even own a heavy blanket haha. barn mates who DO have heavies really only ever get to use them mayyyybe once or twice a year lol -- not worth the storage imho!

  4. Gwyn is out for around 8-10 hours during the winter (daylight hours, basically) and since I don't ride that much I don't clip her. I'm much more conservative (?) in how I blanket. We're in the PNW and while it's wet it's also above freezing consistently so she mostly gets a rain sheet that is re-waterproofed yearly by a professional company. Usually I get a couple years out of my sheets, she's not that rough on them like Charlie must be!

    She also has turnout in paddocks that have shelter so if I can, I give her as much autonomy in tolerating weather as I can. So... I have yet to blanket this year! If we go super cold, we go dry. If we're wet, we're mainly warm. So I really look for the conjunction of wet/wind/cool, wet/wind, or wet/cold where her natural coat won't necessarily be enough. Freezing rain = Blanket Snow, not so much. Freezing temperatures alone, she's a woolly mammoth and will be fine.

    1. ha idk if charlie is himself rough on his sheets..... it might just be the other dozen OTTB geldings he lives with LOL, those darned hooligans..... for real, tho, agreed completely on the whole wind / wet situation being the real key piece rather than just temperature alone. i remember one day last winter after a nasty cold snap where the day was supposed to be quite a bit warmer than it had been, and sunny. even tho it was still below freezing when we turned horses out in the morning, we still stripped almost all of them naked to let them get that nice warm sun on their backs throughout the day

  5. We have super temperate winters out here. No rain, seldom any real wind, and sunny days that usually reach at least 60F+. The nights can be chilly, though - under 20F - so I do some blanketing. We generally use only medium fill blankets, no use for the heavy stuff here. I categorize the yard's 21 horses into wusses (all thoroughbreds, anyone showing ribs, anyone with health issues, anyone over 25, anyone under 2), clipped ones, and tough ones (2-25yo non-TBs in good condition with full winter coats). The tough ones don't get blankets at all unless it's raining and under 50F, when they wear rain sheets. The wusses get blankets whenever it's under 40F, and most of them go inside when it rains, otherwise they'll get rain sheets over their blankets (or just wear waterproof ones). The clipped ones get medium fill waterproof blankets anytime it's under 50F or under 60F and raining. I'll use light fleeces on the clipped ones when its under 60F and not raining. Luckily for them, they have me to keep a ferocious eye on the temperature, so we change blankets as often as the weather changes. It is a gigantic pain in my ass and I may or may not be a bit pedantic about it. I also tend to play it by ear a lot - if I feel like it's cold but they're happily grazing with their coats lying flat, I'll leave them naked. Anyone with a coat standing up gets a blanket right away and anyone sweating or hot under their blankets gets a layer taken off. Some days even the tough ones randomly decide that they're cold. Usually, they need less blanketing than their mothers want me to give them, lol.

    1. ha yep, that all sounds pretty reasonable. i have no problem babying the wusses at my barn, tho of course i'm grateful to not currently count charlie among them! we have quite a few "tough" ones too, some of whom will never see a blanket at all for their whole lives.... but ya know. most fall in the middle haha. similar to you, the ones i kinda feel the most for are those who get a bit overdressed bc their mom is cold....

  6. We get a ton of rain all winter, so while the temps don't tend to get overly cold, they do live in rain sheets for most of it. Lately there's been a pretty vocal local group promoting the idea that blankets are unnecessary (and actually cruel) which is fun...blanket shaming is a thing here now. Mine start getting rain scald if they don't have sheets on so I stick with my opinion that we all know our horse's needs best!

  7. Carmen has a medium weight that I use for winter. I like to keep the blankets off of them for as long as possible to let the winter coat come in (my riding is almost nothing in winter so I don't clip). I don't want to blanket Quaid. His coat is incredible right now (probably from growing up in Alberta). I did buy him a rain sheet though because we get a lot rain/sleet here unlike Alberta.

  8. I love the Horseware liner system. All three of the boys have a Rambo turnout sheet, Rambo 100g turnout blanket, hoods, and liners so I just mix and match as needed. I am changing it up a bit this year because Phoenix is having trouble staying warm. He can't eat to stay warm all day since he can't chew hay and lives on regularly provided mashes, plus his topline has deteriorated quite a bit, happens when you live so long! About to use these sales to get him a 250g amigo turnout so I have the option of up to 550g of insulation if needed. Since all his clothes are also quite old I'm also hoping maybe a fresh blanket will just be warmer in general. We shall see!

  9. So... My name is Sarah and I am a blanket hoarder. I have a lot of blankets. In my tack room alone, each horse has his own tub full of blankets. And then I have spares in the basement and garage. It's... a problem. In my defense, I change blankets a lot and like options and no one in hard on them and I have some that are 17 years old, but... yeah. It's a problem.

    Subi is strange this year. He's been running warm for the first time ever (he usually runs cold), but is thinner so I'm struggling with blanketing. He's been switching between a sheet and a 100g (my favorite weight ever) depending on weather. When it does get cold, I'll toss a medium on just so he doesn't waste calories on staying warm. Jiminy and Nay are clipped (but I need to reclip Nay as he grew in his clip) so they get blanketed heavier. I started replacing more of Nay's wardrobe with Rhinos this year as they fit him super well. And then he'll have his weatherbeetas as extras. I do have some odd 50g that I like (pretty much just heavy sheets) and 100g that are great for most conditions. Nay gets to wear a neck 90% of the time (no fill if it's warmer, otherwise matching his 100-200) because he grinds dirt everywhere. If it rains? He won't leave the shed if he doesn't have a neck cover. Princess.

    Finally, Nay doesn't seem to overheat with blankets and likes the extra warmth. With all his gut problems and being on and off hay, I don't worry about him wasting calories on staying warm. I wouldn't mind if Jiminy shivered off some, but he's evil if he's cold...or wet. With a full coat, I struggle with his weight (plus he sweats and gets chilled a lot in the fall or warm days with his full coat) and he tries to murder you all winter. Clip and blanket? Happiest pony in the world. It's very odd.

  10. This is the first year *gasp* that I've actually bought/used turnout sheets. Our barn does have blanketing service but my trainer quite dislikes the on/off battle of the blankets. Suffice it to say, they're in sheets right now until the daily temps dip to 30s/40s (if they get that low) and then they'll go to their midweight blankets. Typically that doesn't happen until January. My horses are absolute pig pens with their blankets and both of them love rolling (in their stalls and in the turnout). Mae's Weatherbeeta has lasted three years (and gets professionally cleaned every year) and I think this is the last year for it. Dalton's in a fancy European brand turnout sheet right now but I got him a Weatherbeeta as well. What's hilarious is that he's SO huge but his blanket is a size 81. And Mae's is a 78. Short-backed baby is what he is


Thanks for leaving a comment! You may need to enable third party cookies in your browser settings if you have trouble using this form.