Winter Turnouts: It`s All Fit

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It is harder than you may think to find a turnout blanket for your horse that will fit him well. Getting the right size and the right style of blanket will ensure that you get properly functioning turnout blanket that will shift less — if it even shifts at all — and won’t rub your horse’s shoulders. However, you will have to actually get out the tape measure to do it.

When we began this trial, we asked our testers to tell us their horse’s blanket size. Then, we went out to the barn ourselves and measured those horses. To our surprise, more than half of the horse owners didn’t know their horse’s correct blanket size, and most guessed larger than their horse measured.

When we asked each tester why he or she gave us a size different than the center-of-chest-to-tail measurement of their horse, we were told: My horse is hard to fit because he’s long in the back” or “broad in the chest,” “deep in the barrel,” or “has square shoulders.” Basically, you name it, and we’ve heard it.

When we received the turnout blankets, we took every blanket and tried it on every horse it might possibly fit. For instance, every size 80” blanket we received was tried on every 78”, 80”, and 82” horse participating in the survey.

Amazingly, we found that the majority of the turnouts we tested fit fairly well both up and down a size. While most of our testers thought their horses were a size larger than they measured, we found that if you were to misjudge your horse’s size, you’re more likely to get a good fit by getting a smaller blanket size.

We strongly recommend taking the few extra minutes to measure your horse from the center of his chest, around the shoulder, across the length of his barrel, to the center of his tail. Use this measurement to begin your blanket search and look for a blanket that is available in his size. If your horse’s measurement falls in between sizes, considering going down to the closest size. For instance, if your horse measures a 79”, try a 78” first not an 80”.

Styles And Weights
There are nearly endless possibilities of materials, colors, and other features in blankets, but when you get right down to it, there are two basic styles of turnouts to decide between: the contoured fit and the Euro cut.

The traditional contoured blanket fits more closely to the shape of the horse’s body, most notably in the hindquarters. Often this style of blanket will even have a seam, known as a dart, in the hip area.

The Euro cut design is more square and has been a popular style in Europe long before becoming strong here. The Euro cut features a more boxy appearance, longer sides and no back seam, like the Rambo turnout blankets. Within these two styles, of course, are numerous options: tail flaps, hind leg straps, front closures, surcingle types or shoulder gussets.

In New England, where our test took place, the winter of 2001-2002 presented many challenges. Overall, we had an unseasonably warm winter. However, we weren’t without bad weather and cold nights. The warm daytime temperatures often meant that there was rain instead of snow and, once the sun went down, the temperatures often dipped well below zero.

Warm daytime temperatures, in the 30s to low 40s, may be too warm for a heavy turnout blanket, especially if it doesn’t breathe well. We had surprisingly few problems in this area. Likewise, your turnout will have to be warm enough to keep your horse comfortable at night, when the temperatures may go below zero. However, the new technology in fabrics and better-made horse clothing make this possible.

Not surprisingly, the multi-layered system blanket from Kensington was a tester favorite, due to the versatility offered in the face of ever-changing weather and temperatures, even including a fly sheet you use to protect the winter blanket.

However, it has a closed-front liner, so when you have the liner attached to the medium-weight blanket, it must be removed over the horse’s head. Of course, this does have the advantage of no extra set of buckles pressing on the horse’s chest.

Bottom Line
With only a few exceptions, all the turnouts in this trial were fabulous, so choosing the best was not easy.

The Kensington System blanket performed well. However, it’s expensive unless you need the additional layers and its versatility. If you’re interested in system blankets, we recommend you refer to our August 2001 article on system blankets.

If you’re looking for a traditional contour-cut blanket, we like the Wilsun DryHorse Turnout Rug, which also topped our 1998 winter turnout-blanket trial.

If you prefer the Euro cut, we suggest you go with the Miller’s Everest Fahrenheit Extreme II.

For bargain hunters, we found Best Buy the toughest call. However, at $89.95, the Toklat Timberline narrowly beats Schneiders’ $119.95 Storm Shield SuperQuilt.

Details on the 25 turnout blankets in our trial are in the sidebars below.

Also With This Article
Click here to view ”Special Blanket Needs.”
Click here to view ”Blanket Comparisons In Order Of Price.”
Click here to view ”Materials: What Is This Stuff'”

Contact Your Local Tack Store, Favorite Mail-Order Company Or: Action Company, 972/542-8700; Classic Cover-Ups, 610/932-9400; Dover Saddlery 800/989-1500 www.doversaddlery.com; Equibrand Corporation, 800/654-7864 www.classicequine.com; EquiSpa Chaskit 800/456-7408, www.chaskit.com; Glover Equine Products Ltd., 800/565-6646, www.gloverequine.com; Horseware/Triple Crown/Rambo, 800/887-6688, www.horseware.com; Hug Closures www.blanketnet.com 866/484-3487; Kensington Protective Products Inc., 909/469-1240, www.kensingtonhorseproducts.com; Libertyville Saddle Shop 800/872-3353, www.saddleshop.com; Chaskit, 800/456-7408, www.chaskit.com; Miller Harness Company, LLC, 800/553-7655, www.millerharness.com; Saratoga Horseworks, Ltd., 800/848-1914, www.horseworks.com; Schneiders 800/365-1311, www.sstack.com; Thornhill, 800/445-3998 www.thornhillusa.com; Toklat Originals www.toklat.com; WeatherBeeta USA 877/927-4337; Wilsun Equestrian 800/942-5567.