Farmington, Pa., March 14, 2004 -- The Freestyle blanket system, billed as "the new standard" in equine clothing, was dramatically unveiled today by WeatherBeeta at a gathering of more than 100 tack retailers from around the country.
At the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa, Jack Levy, WeatherBeeta's business development manager, revealed the new line -- breathable waterproof garments, offering freedom of movement, that were two years in development and have a combination of 14 individual and joint design patents. The contoured blankets have color panels with taped seams that make a fashion statement as well as a comfort statement.
Levy went down blanket memory lane, recalling the days when blankets were not really waterproof "and no one talked about breathable." Improved blankets that were waterproof and breathable "lost their sexy shape," as Levy put it, becoming boxy in a no-seam design that kept the rain off but often led to rubbed shoulders. Gussets didn't work and tail flaps offered minimal protection for horses who turned their butts to the wind.
"We decided to set out and get the best of both worlds, something that fit, looked sexy and also something that worked," said Levy.
Liz Wilkinson, a WeatherBeeta senior product specialist who helped design the blankets, showed off the details, emphasizing the shoulder fit that will eliminate rubs, coupled with gussets positioned toward the front of the blanket
that let the horse step out without restriction. The long, roomy tail flap stabilizes the blanket and protects the horse from cold winds, while offering enough leeway for him to lift his tail. A belly wrap crafted into the blanket's side keeps the horse warm in a spot too often left open to cold winds.
The top of the line blanket is the Taka, made of 1,680 denier nylon. The Arion is 1,260 denier polyester, while the Orican is 1,200 denier polyester. The Landa is the least expensive blanket, made of 600 denier polyester, and all come in a variety of weights.
The blankets were among dozens of items, ranging from sweatscrapers to saddles, displayed by WeatherBeeta for retailers. In addition to doing their buying for next season, those attending were offered seminars to improve their businesses.
Dr. Tracy Turner, a former University of Minnesota professor, was one of the featured speakers at the Weekend with WeatherBeeta, where he gave a presentation sponsored by EQUUS Magazine. Dr. Turner and saddle designer Ron Bates shared a team of veterinarians' finding through thermography that the Cair saddle air panel system fits a horse even better than a custom-made saddle.
For more information on Dr. Turner's work, check out the June 2004 issue of EQUUS magazine.