Pricier Stable Blankets May Last For Years

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You can find a stable blanket that fits well, looks good and keeps your horse warm for under $100, as we saw last month. However, if you can spend $50 or $100 more, you may buy a blanket that will last five or more years and thus may be cheaper in the long run.

With winter stable blankets, we found you pretty much get what you pay for. More expensive blankets are more likely to fit well and not slip or rub. They have better construction and materials and are less likely to show wear. They are often lighter and less bulky while still providing plenty of warmth. They also have more choices in features and colors.

Choice, however, comes with a price. If you want custom features, you can’t buy something right off the tack-store shelf. The blanket likely will be made in the United States or Canada, and you will pay for each special item you want. You can call these companies directly and get what you want and, if you need to replace a strap five years down the road, it’s likely they will have it.

We discussed blanket-feature basics in “Economic Choices For Stable Blankets,” August 2000, but we want to emphasize again that waterproofing and breathability involves an extra membrane that is laminated to the outer shell. This makes a blanket suitable for turnout, raises the price considerably and is overkill in a stable blanket, especially the waterproofing.

Breathability does not mean that air goes in and out but rather that moisture — meaning sweat — can get out if the horse gets overheated. Certain weaves, fabrics (like cotton and fleece) and added loft impart varying degrees of breathability. But remember, there is no industry standard for “waterproof/breathable.” Manufacturers can claim whatever they want.

That Familiar Plaid
Baker blankets have been around for over a century, and the famous tan plaid is still popular, so popular that you see more Baker wannabes than the real thing. What makes Baker distinctive isn’t the plaid, however, but its triple-weave construction. Bakers were once made with cotton, but for the last 15 years they’ve been acrylic (acrylic doesn’t shrink, fade or rot as the cotton did). Otherwise, they’re pretty much the same blanket.

It’s not unusual to see a Baker that is several decades old, torn and faded, but patched and still in service. The weave wears like iron and is easy to mend, the antithesis of planned obsolescence. Almost all the other stable blankets now have three-layer construction, with a nylon outer shell and a lofted insulation, as if the owners want their horses to match their own ski parkas.

The effect is prettier and often warmer. It can also be more bulky and less convenient and even too warm — stable blankets don’t have to block wind. And they are harder to mend if they get damaged.

Convenience
Blankets that are routinely cleaned will also last longer and, of course, are healthier for the horse. But it’s a pain. We recommend that a liner be worn under the blanket that can be quickly and easily washed at home to help with skin health. Many stable blankets can be washed in a front-load home unit and some in a top-load unit. The less bulky and stiff the blanket, the easier it is to wash.

The blanket you choose, especially the leg straps, may also be dictated by whether your horse will wear it all the time — with a waterproof cover to go outside — and whether it will be changed by the helpers at a boarding stable. Leg straps are simply more time-consuming for barn help.

Next month we will look at polar fleece as a versatile alternative to the traditional stable blanket.

Baker Original
• MSRP/Sizes: $160, 68-84”.
• Materials: Triple woven acrylic.
• Colors: Tan plaid/blue straps, blue tartan/green straps.
• Features: Two front buckles with metal-reinforced holes, bias surcingles, contoured hip. Options include detachable leg straps, closed front, cut-back withers.
• Comments: Runs small. Fit well. Did not slip. Slight rubs. Kept horse warm. Good breathability. Not heavy/bulky. Straps long enough to use over saddle in trailer. No wear shown. Takes a long time to dry when wet.

Big D Kodiak
• MSRP/Sizes: $149, 68-96”.
• Materials: 600 denier nylon shell, Du Pont virgin fiber insulation, nylon show coat liner.
• Colors: 6 plaids, 10 solids, trim/piping choices.
• Features: Closed-front or two front buckles, grommets on flaps, low reinforced belly strap, reinforced attached nylon same-side leg straps. Can monogram.
• Comments: Fit well. No slipping or rubbing. Kept horse warm. Good breathability. Easy to handle. Well-made. Good value.

BMB Southwind
• MSRP/Sizes: $124, 48-80”; $134, 82-86”.
• Materials: 430 denier, coated nylon shell, kersey insulation, ripstop nylon lining.
• Colors: 11 colors, 14 trims.
• Features: One front buckle, reinforced low belly strap and nylon attached leg straps. Options include closed front, English cut, cut-back withers, piping, monogram.
• Comments: Fit well. Did not slip. Suitable for moderate temperature range. Kept horse warm. So-so on breathability.

BMB Pan-American
• MSRP/Sizes: $156, 48-80”; $166, 82-86”.
• Materials: 430 denier coated nylon shell, Hollofil insulation, ripstop nylon lining.
• Colors: 11 colors, 14 trim/piping choices.
• Features: One-buckle front, low belly strap and attached nylon leg straps with surcingle closures and vinyl reinforcement. Options include closed front, cut-back withers, tail cover, belly band, English cut, piping, monogram, matching hood and shipping boots.
• Comments: Fit well. Did not rub. Kept horse warm. OK on breathability. Laundered well. Good value.

Bucas Celtic Quilt
• MSRP/Sizes: $158, 66”, 72”, 78”, 81”.
• Materials: Nylon shell, 300 g poly insulation, white cotton lining.
• Colors: Black Watch plaid.
• Features: Extended neck, one front closure and one low belly strap, tail cord.
• Comments: Runs small. Fit OK. Didn’t rub. Slipped a bit. Simple rectangle design with darts in rump. Thick but light. Kept horse warm. Good breathability.

Chaskit Midseason
• MSRP/Sizes: $239. Custom sizes.
• Materials: 430 denier coated nylon shell, ??” quilted polyfill insulation, nylon lining.
• Colors: Black, red, royal, navy. Trim choices.
• Features: Two bronze snaps with adjustable D rings at chest, patented “Self-Righting” nylon “spider” strap system that runs between front legs through side ring and between hind legs, forward-cut withers, can be custom fit.
• Comments: Strap system is unlike any blanket we’ve seen but easy to use once we got used to it. Suitable for moderate temperature range — similar model has 1” insulation. Fit well. Did not slip or rub. Easy to launder. Good choice for horse whose blankets always shift.

Classic Cover-Ups Horses In Black
• MSRP/Sizes: $159, 69-87”. Pony sizes available.
• Materials: 1,000 denier Cordura shell with Teflon fabric protector, Gore-Tex, 12 oz. Hollofil insulation, nylon lining.
• Colors: Black.
• Features: Two front surcingle closures with elastic, low bias surcingles, high neck, long drop, tail flap, Polarfleece withers, powder-coated hardwear. A waterproof/breathable membrane option is available.
• Comments: Fit well. Did not rub or slip. Kept horse warm. Breathable. Nice hardwear, tough material. Excellent coverage.

Classic Cover-Ups Extreme
• MSRP/Sizes: $199, 66-86”, pony sizes.
• Materials: 1000 denier Cordura, 12 oz. Hollofil insulation, nylon taffeta lining.
• Colors: Black body, trim choices.
• Features: Two front surcingle c losures, one low belly surcingle and detachable heavy-duty elastic leg straps reinforced with leather, Polarfleece withers. A waterproof/breathable membrane is available.
• Comments: Fit well. Did not slip or rub. Kept horse warm. Breathable. Nice hardwear and material.

Dover Rider’s International Pro
• MSRP/Sizes: $109.80, 72-78”; $119.80, 80-84”.
• Materials: 1200 denier polypropylene shell, 400 g Hollofil insulation and ripstop nylon lining.
• Colors: Navy, green, royal.
• Features: Two adjustable front snaps with Ds and Velcro, low bias surcingles with elastic and PVC reinforcement, withers fleece, high-cut neck, tail cord.
• Comments: Fit OK. Did not slip or rub. Kept horse warm. So-so on breathability. Bulky. Tough shell but stained easily. Generous length through back. No leg straps or D’s for hood.

Dover Rider’s International Supreme
• MSRP/Sizes: $112.70, 72-78”; $119.70, 80-84”.
• Materials: 1200 denier polypropylene shell, 400 g polyfill insulation, nylon lining.
• Colors: Navy with hunter trim and burgundy piping.
• Features: Two adjustable front buckles with Ds, snaps and Velcro, bias surcingles, detachable nylon leg straps with loop end, contour hip, withers fleece, tail flap, optional matching neck cover.
• Comments: Fit well and did not slip. Slight rubs. Kept horse warm. Good breathability. Generous length through back.

Glover Arctic Quilt
• MSRP/Sizes: $134, 68-82”; over 82” extra cost, under 68” lower cost.
• Materials: 1000 denier Cordura shell, 16 oz. polyester fill insulation, nylon lining.
• Colors: 6 colors with black trim. Other trims optional.
• Features: Two front buckles, single girth strap, attached reinforced leg straps. Options include closed front, belly band, matching hood, headless hood, shipping boots, tail wrap, shipping boots. Custom sizing available.
• Comments: Fit well. Did not slip. Trim caused some rubs. Kept horse warm. Good breathability. Strong material. Bulky to handle. Leg snaps stiff but ease with use. Replacement warranty at 65% of price for first year.

Glover Canadiana Storm
• MSRP/Sizes: $179, 68-82”, over 82” extra charge, under 68” lower charge.
• Materials: 1000 denier Cordura shell, quilted polyester insulation, nylon lining.
• Colors: Navy with green trim, green with navy trim.
• Features: Two heavy-duty front buckles, reinforced belly strap and attached reinforced nylon leg straps, rain cap at withers, tail guard, waterproof/breathable membrane. Matching hood and headless hood available.
• Comments: Fit OK. Did not rub. Suitable for colder climate — very warm, held in heat and moisture. Waterproof (no back seam). Bulky. Leg snaps stiff but ease with use.

Kensington Roustabout Jr.
• MSRP and Sizes: $139.95, 60-86”.
• Materials: 600 denier ripstop polyester shell, 240 g Hollofil insulation, taffeta lining.
• Colors: Hunter with black trim, tan piping or navy with black trim, tan piping.
• Features: Two front buckles, low bias surcingles with rings and snaps, long sides, withers fleece, detachable elastic leg straps, tail flap. Optional detatchable protective top mesh layer and waterproof/breathable laminate added to shell. Quarter-horse cut available.
• Comments: Blanket sizing runs large. Fit well. Did not slip or rub. Kept horse warm. OK on breathability. Long back and sides make this an excellent choice for larger horses. We found the surcingle snaps especially convenient. Good hardwear. Good value.

Libertyville Thermo Master Dublin
• MSRP/Sizes: $136.75, 72-84”.
• Materials: 840 denier nylon shell with hydrophilic membrane, 280 g high loft polyester, cotton lining.
• Colors: Navy with red trim, kelly/blue.
• Features: Two surcingle front closures with elastic and self-grip, low bias surcingles, high-cut neck with fleece, shaped rump, tail cover, deep-cut sides, attached nylon leg straps.
• Comments: Generous sizing. Slipped some. Did not rub. Kept horse warm. Fine for breathability. Excellent coverage. Did not stain or hold odor. Appropriate for turnout and low temperature range.

Libertyville Thermo Master Blackwatch
• MSRP/Sizes: $112.50, 68-84”.
• Materials: 1000 denier woven polypropylene shell, 16 oz. poly insulation, poly lining.
• Colors: Blackwatch plaid.
• Features: Overlapping front closure with two snaps, one low reinforced belly surcingle, attached nylon reinforced leg straps, tail flap, four-panel construction, matching hood available.
• Comments: Fit OK. Slipped and rubbed a bit. Good breathability. Did not stain. Stiff to handle. Appropriate for low temperatures.

Miller’s EquiLite 100
• MSRP/Sizes: $134.95, 60-84”; $129.95, 48-66” (Blackwatch only).
• Materials: 420 denier nylon shell, Thinsulate insulation, ripstop nylon lining.
• Colors: Bluewatch plaid with navy trim, Blackwatch plaid/hunter, hunter/wine-chamois trim, navy/gray-white trim.
• Features: Two front buckles with elastic lining in straps, single surcingle with elastic insert, detachable elastic leg straps with loop end, stainless-steel hardware, withers fleece, ID label.
• Comments: Fit nicely. Slight slip and rub. Lightweight. Easy to handle. Suitable for moderate temperatures. Kept horse warm. So-so breathability. Laundered well.

Miller’s Thermalite
• MSRP/Sizes: $124.95, 68-84”.
• Materials: Acrylic shell, Thinsulate and 220 g polyfill insulation, nylon taffeta lining.
• Colors: Three plaids.
• Features: Two front buckles, bias surcingles, high-cut neck, elastic detachable leg straps with loop end, withers fleece, ID label.
• Comments: Fit well. Did not slip or rub. Suitable for moderate temperatures. Kept horse warm. Did well on breathability.

Royal Riders High Sierra
• MSRP/Sizes: $190, 68-86”, custom.
• Materials: 1000 denier Cordura shell, 12 oz. Hollofil insulation, nylon ripstop taffeta lining.
• Colors: 7 colors, 13 trim colors.
• Features: Choice of front (leather-reinforced grommet, sewn straps or closed), one leather-reinforced belly strap, leather-reinforced attached nylon leg straps with swivel snaps, standard or Quarter-Horse cut, contour rump. Options include cut-back neck, hood, belly band, shoulder gussets, tail flaps, detachable or webbing leg straps, piping, double binding, monograms.
• Comments: Fit well. Did not rub. Kept horse warm. So-so on breathability. Brushed clean easily. Laundered well. Nice hardwear. Well-made.

Royal Riders Solution
• MSRP/Sizes: $165, 68-86”, custom.
• Materials: 420 denier nylon shell, 12 oz. Hollofil insulation, ripstop nylon taffeta lining.
• Colors: 5 colors, 13 trim colors.
• Features: See Royal Riders High Sierra.
• Comments: Fit well. Did not rub. Kept horse warm. So-so on breathability. Nice hardwear. Well-made.

Royal Riders Quilted Plaid
• MSRP/Sizes: $195, 68-86”, custom.
• Materials: Woven acrylic shell, 12 oz. Hollofil insulation, nylon ripstop taffeta lining.
• Colors: Hunter or navy plaid.
• Features: See Royal Riders High Sierra.
• Comments: Fit well. Did not rub. Kept horse warm. OK on breathability. Nice hardwear. Well-made.

Saratoga Horseworks Breeze
• MSRP/Sizes: $224, 68-86”.
• Materials: 1200 denier Propex shell, 4 oz. Primaloft insulation, ripstop nylon lining.
• Colors: 6 colors.
• Features: 2” chest straps with elastic insets, Velcro on chest, bias surcingles with elastic insets, nylon side-release buckles, contour cut rump, tail cord, no leg straps or hood Ds, stall-front storage bag. Options include single surcingle with leg straps, Triad waterproof/breathable membrane insert, piping, embroidery, warmblood cut, leg Ds, cut-back neck.
• Comments: Fit well. Did not slip despite no leg straps. Suitable for moderate temperatures. Kept horse warm. Fine on breathability. Light weight. Easy to handle. Well-made.

Valley Vet Brookside Trend Setter
• MSRP/Sizes: $129.95, 68-80”; $132.95 82-86”.
• Materials: 600 denier polyester, needle-punched synthetic-felt insulation/lining.
• Colors: Burgundy with black trim, forest green/navy, navy/burgundy.
• Features: Two front buckles with adjustable Ds, low belly strap with surcingle closure, elastic detachable leg straps, withers fleece, removable tail cord.
• Comments: Fit well. Did not slip. Kept horse warm. So-so on breathability. Easy to handle. Laundered well.

Wilsun New Market Thinsulate
• MSRP/Sizes: $194, 68-86”; 46-66” special order.
• Materials: 1000 denier Cordura nylon shell, quilted Thinsulate insulation, ripstop nylon lining.
• Colors: Eight colors with choice of trim.
• Features: Choice of front closures (surcingle with elastic, plain surcingle, buckle and billet, three-way adjustable, or closed), style choice (bias surcingles, straight surcingles or body roller, regular or cut-back neck), leg Ds, tail strap. Extra charge for leg straps, detachable tail strap, fleece withers, belly band, leather front closure, piping, embroidery, hood.
• Comments: Runs large. Fit well. Did not slip. Tail strap on our test blanket caused wear against fabric. Light weight. Easy to handle. Suitable for moderate temperature range. OK on breathability.

Wilsun Stable
• MSRP/Sizes: $183, 68-86”; 46-66” special order.
• Materials: 1000 denier Cordura nylon shell, 370 Hollofil insulation, ripstop nylon lining.
• Colors: See Wilsun New Market.
• Features: See Wilsun New Market.
• Comments: Runs large. Fit well. Did not slip. Kept horse warm. OK on breathability. Very well made. Wide variety of options.

Wilsun Thermolite Thinsulate
• MSRP/Sizes: $180, 68-80”.
• Materials: Quilted acrylic plaid shell, quilted Thinsulate insulation, ripstop nylon lining.
• Colors: Green plaid and trim.
• Features: See Wilsun New Market.
• Comments: Runs large. Fit well. Did not slip. Lightweight. Easy to handle. Suitable for moderate temperature range. OK breathability. Well-made. Wide variety of options.

Bottom Line
We were generally impressed with the quality and selection of these blankets, especially those made in the United States and Canada that offer many custom options, and it’s hard to pick one over so many fine choices.

Nevertheless, we’ll give our top pick by a narrow margin to Saratoga Horseworks’ Breeze. We love the way it fits, stays put without leg straps, its lightweight ease and its convenient nylon buckles. At $224, however, it’s also one of the most expensive.

We’re also impressed with the Big D Kodiak, especially for the way it stays put. In this company, it’s a bargain at $149, although we’d replace the attached leg straps with the detachable straps for $6 more. Other good values in the moderate price range are the Kensington Roustabout Jr. at $139.95, especially for large horses, and the BMB Pan American at $156.

Out Best Buy goes to the venerable Baker. Although it has an MSRP of $160, it wears like iron. If you don’t change horses you also won’t have to change blankets for many years, even decades. And when you go shopping for a Baker — or any blanket carried by multiple retailers — it pays to shop around for the best price.

Contact your local tack shop or: Baker 800/631-2236; Big D 707/864-3077; BMB 888/262-8225; Bucas Ltd. 011-353-2131-2200; Chaskit 800/456-7408; Classic Cover-Ups 610/932-9400; Dover 800/989-1500; Glover 204/534-7050; Kensington 909/469-1240; Libertyville 800/872-3353; Miller’s 800/553-7644; Royal Riders 800/437-6676; Saratoga Horseworks, Ltd. 800/848-1914; Valley Vet 800/356-1005; Wilsun 800/942-5567.