Blankets are a big investment for horse owners at this time of year, both in terms of money and time. The extent of your horsey wardrobe depends on where you live, whether your horses are clipped, and how much time your horses spend outside in rain, sleet, snow and mud.
It’s easy to have four or more blankets hanging on the front of the stall and a few more dangling from rods on the wall or over fence rails to dry out. You struggle to pull blankets on and off in the morning and evening or as the weather changes.
There’s a unique appliance available now to make living with wet heavy blankets simply a lot easier. Not only is the Centaur Blanket Dryer a labor-saving device, but it also contributes to the health of your horse since it makes having dry blankets readily available during wet, cold weather. The concept of the blanket dryer is as simple as having a towel warmer in the bathroom: It’s a heated tube over which you hang a wet blanket.
The Blanket Dryer comes in three sizes for two, four or six blankets at a time. We tested the four-bar model from late last winter and over the summer, and even though our 12-stall test barn was in a relatively warm and dry southern state, we found it was in constant use. When the blanket season was past, we used it to dry saddle pads and leg wraps rather than hanging them over fence rails or bashing them in the laundry dryer.
You can hang one blanket on each rod or buckle a blanket over the entire unit. Four blankets or heavy sheets soaking from the washer or from a downpour dried in about four hours. If we wanted a single blanket ready to use more quickly, we could buckle it alone over the whole unit and it was dry in two hours. It’s remarkably simple to use – you just plug and unplug it.
We felt safe using this heavy-duty electrical appliance in the barn. It works on 112V and heats water (and anti-freeze) inside the tubes to about 165 degrees, although the rods outside could be touched. There is a 12-foot heavy-duty cord for which you would need an equally heavy-duty extension cord if you don’t have a near-by outlet.
It can be put on a timer if you want it to shut down after you leave the barn or turn on in the morning before feeding time. In fact, providing a warm blanket for an older horse on a cold morning or for a horse that’s had a tough workout is a nice feature. Any questions you may have are pretty much answered by videos on the U.S. website. There is also a U.K. website, where the Centaur dryer has been sold for a decade.
The Blanket Dryer is an investment: $995 for the two-bar model, $1,395 for the four-bar model and $1,795 for the six-bar model, plus shipping. Getting it to you from the Ohio plant adds to the cost, of course, from $125 nearby to $350 in Seattle, for example. There are plans for production in Canada and also in the West. It costs a top figure of 20 cents an hour to operate, which, again can be reduced if you use a timer.
There are ways, however, to make the blanket dryer cost-effective. Start with labor—it simply saves time. You also need fewer blankets per horse because they dry so fast. If you are planning to invest in a washer and dryer combo for your barn, you may not need the laundry dryer, since just about anything you can put in a machine dryer can hang on the rods, plus bigger blankets won’t go in a machine dryer at all. Our unit was usually draped with blankets, saddle pads and leg wraps at the same time.
The two-bar model (suited to a barn with two or three horses) is 6’6” long x 1’6” wide x 3’6” high and weighs 50 pounds. The four-bar model (suitable for four to eight horses) almost doubles that width to 2’10” and weighs 102 pounds. The bars on the six-bar model are closer together, so it’s only 3’ wide and 154 pounds.
The Blanket Dryer certainly looks big, perhaps because of its bright yellow color, the only current color option. However, even the six-bar model takes up no more space than two tack boxes set side-by-side. However, the unit can be placed vertically (the blankets would be buckled at the top from a stool) or even hung on a wall. It has two wheels at one end, and we found the four-bar model could be maneuvered easily enough if need-be.
Yes, we realize the Blanket Dryer looks big in both price and size. However, it is also remarkably convenient. It saves labor and reduces the size of your blanket stack. It guarantees there will be dry blankets available during even the worse weather conditions. If you can slide a couple tack boxes to one side or find 6 ½ feet of wall space somewhere in your barn (half that if you turn it on end), then it will fit right in. We love not having saddle pads and leg wraps draped all over the fences to dry, so it helps keep the barn looking need and orderly. Centaur Blanket Dryer, Medina OH, 877-562-8147, www.horseblanketdriers.com.