Fleece Works Well As A Blanket

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Many manufacturers are marketing fleece for use as liners, coolers and quarter sheets, but some are starting to promote it as a stable blanket on its own. We received three to test as stable blankets, along with more than three dozen conventional models (see August and September 2000). Our Western-style testers, who were already accustomed to fleece, were thrilled to see these arrive, but the English-style testers shuddered at first. They quickly changed their minds.

We like fleece for our horses for the same reasons that we like it for ourselves. It’s warm, breathable, lightweight, compact and stretches with every movement. It’s excellent against the skin, keeping a coat in wonderful condition. With an extra nylon shell added when the temperature gets really low, it’s as warm as a much-heavier blanket.

We found that fleece does an excellent job for both clipped horses and those left with long coats. It also doesn’t cause a coat to lay down flat, so the horse stays warmer. While fleece isn’t waterproof, it does repel outside moisture to a certain extent, such as in a light snow. While we know some people feel fleece has a lot of static electricity, our testers didn’t have any problems.

Velcro seems to work particularly well with fleece, since it moves with the fleece as the horse moves. Straps tend to get distorted.

Fleece does hold bedding more than nylon but not much more than other fabrics. The lower the nap, the easier it is to keep clean. On the other hand, of course, it’s also easy to wash and dry at home. It’s also not inexpensive and can be priced by the quality of fleece and the size, with larger sizes costing more money.

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Statler House

MSRP/Sizes: $129 for 78”; prices vary with full size range.

Materials: 18 oz. Polyester fleece outside, nylon/Lycra lining.

Colors: 7 colors with choice of trim.

Features: Two front buckles, one belly strap, tail cord or detachable nylon leg straps with elastic, 4-way stretch fabric.

Comments: Fit well, didn’t slip or rub. Kept horse warm. Breathable. Wash and dry at home.

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Norman Blanket Cooler

MSRP/Sizes: $94.95-$114.95, sm., med., lg., x-lg. (64-84”).

Materials: Polartec 300, Spandex binding.

Colors: 8 with black trim.

Features: Wide Velcro front closure, wide belly band with Velcro, high shoulder, attached stretch nylon leg straps with swivel hooks, Spandex shoulder guard. Optional full lining and matching hood/shoulder unit.

Comments: Fit well, did not slip or rub. Kept horse warm and did fine on breathability. Laundered well. Large Velcro patches cling together when washing. Great freedom of movement.

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Norman Snuggy II

MSRP/Sizes: $79.95-$153.95, foal, x-sm., sm., med., lg., x-lg.

Materials: Polartec 300, Spandex binding.

Colors: 8 with black trim.

Features: One piece unit with hood, brass zipper from chin to chest, lined mane area, belly band, tail cover, attached leg straps. Full spandex lining available.

Comments: Fit well, did not slip or rub. Kept horse warm and did fine on breathability. Laundered easily. Great freedom of movement. Opens like a jacket so you don’t have to pull hood over the head.

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Bottom Line
We feel that fleece should gain acceptance as a blanket, not just a liner, due to its comfort, coat protection and ease of care. We liked all three blankets, and we felt the blanket cooler by Norman Equine Designs was versatile, easy to use and a very good value.

Contact your local tack shop or: Horsewear by Statler House 780/662-4149; Norman Equine Designs 800/348-5673