What Is A Horse Blanket? Some use the horse blanket as merely adornment for their horses. A horse blanket was intended, however, to be functional. Although your pampered pet may not need a horse blanket in areas where the weather is always warm or mostly pleasant year-round, you would certainly want to use it for the comfort of your horse where it has to suffer from the cold or even just chilly weather. A horse blanket has been a part of horse accessories for many years. Some people like to collect horse blankets and use them as decoration around their home. The western decor is a popular one, especially in some areas of California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Colorado. Although not limited to these areas, the horse blanket has reached high levels of popularity. If you have ever been to a rodeo, you are sure to have seen a horse blanket. It's all part of the western charm of the rodeo. Maybe you aren't a rodeo fan, but just love horses. You may be a horse racing fan, own a farm, or just have a horse for a pet. You don't have to own a horse to own a horse blanket. Horse blankets are often sold in tourist attractions across the United States. Along the route from Texas to California, you can find horse blankets in the tourist stores along the interstate. Almost any farm clothing store will carry horse blankets to sell. Some hardware stores stock a few. There are those made in Mexico, for sale to the tourists who want to take home a warm or decorative memento of their travels. You can find them at stores or flea markets held on Indian reservations. You may be lucky enough to pick some up at garage sales. Some like to scatter them around their home for use as throws to keep them warm as they watch television or a movie in their living room or den. They can be quite attractive tossed over the couch or favorite recliner. You can even use them as curtains or throw one on your bed to complete your room! Do you have an unsightly mess you wish to cover? Put that horse blanket to use! Give an old one to the kids to play with, for use with their outdoor picnics to spread on the ground for a nap, or to arrange their toys for a pretend farm scene. A horse blanket can be carried in the car to use on long trips. It can cover your stained seats, your valuables bought along the way as you make trips to shop or visit the tourist attractions, or to keep you warm if your heater is on the blink! Horse blankets are made of sturdy, durable materials and are long-lasting. There are blankets made of softer materials that just have a horse's picture on it and not for actual use on a horse. It would probably be a stretch to even call it a horse blanket. The Various Types of Horse and Blankets and Sheets If you look in any horse catalog or browse through the blanket section of any tack store you will immediately notice that there is a wide selection of several different types of blankets. To the uninitiated the exact use for each of these blankets can be confusing. Turn-out rugs are exactly what they sound like. Turn-out rugs are blankets that are sturdy enough to handle the wear and tear of life outside. They are designed to hold up to the roughest of play. They are also designed to rip if the horse gets caught on something in their field. There are two types of turn-out rugs. The heavy variety are designed to be used during the cold winter months while the lighter blankets (the lighter variety of blankets are typically called sheets while the heavier type are called rugs). Quarter sheets are strange looking things. Held next to the full size sheets and rugs they look like somebody forgot to attach the from half of the blanket. Blanket designers haven't forgotten a thing. Quarter sheets are designed to hook to the saddle and cover the horses haunches. These blankets are typically used to keep a horses muscles warm while the rider waits to go into the show ring after a rider has finished their pre-class schooling session. Some riders decide to save money and instead of purchasing a quarter sheet they simply use their stable sheet folded in half to cover their horse. Stable sheets are light weight sheets that are too thin to be used outside of the stabling area. They are generally used to cover the horse after its been groomed and bathed. They have the very specific purpose of keeping the horse clean. Some riders use stable sheets to cover a horse while it is being transported. Many large stables have their stable sheets custom done in their stables colors. Some catalogs and tack shops refer to stable sheets as dress sheets. Coolers are another type of blanket that are self-explanatory. Coolers are placed on a hot horse to help slow the cooling process. They cover the entire horse, ear to tail. The open design of coolers allows the air to flow through them. Coolers are typically custom designed in a stables colors and can be monogrammed. Several shows give away coolers, instead of trophies and ribbons, as an reward for high point championships. Fly sheets are blankets that are designed to help keep flies from pestering their horses. Horse owners can choose between a close knit fly sheet or one that has a large weave pattern. Blanket liners are typically designed from thin smooth material that is designed to slide smoothly across the horses muscles without rubbing off the hair or chaffing the skin. Typically blanket liners cover only the horses chest and shoulders where blankets typically wear at the horses hair. No matter what type of blanket you decide to use it is important to make sure that the blanket properly fits your horse. The Different Types of Fly Sheets Anyone who owns horses knows that fly are a problem. Even barns and horse owners with the tidiest stables, that haul their manure away immediately and have nice dry sandy lots have to deal with fly issues. Many horse owners attempt to control their fly population by using a variety of methods including fly sprays, fly strips, bug zappers, fly misters that mist the stabling area with fly sprays, and a variety of wraps and collars that have been soaked in fly spray. Mustangs will search for mud holes that they use to cover themselves in mud to discourage fly bites. In an effort to keep their horses bite free some owners try to keep them blanketed from head to toe, but hot summer temperatures often force them to removed the blankets during the hottest hours of the afternoon. Several horse owners use fly sheets as a form of fly control. The material used to make fly sheets is the same type of finely woven mesh material used to make vinyl lawn furniture. The same type that has been used since the 1960's. Fly sheets are typically constructed of polyvinyl that is resistant to UV rays and comes in a wide variety of colors (including blaze orange for horse owner that live in the middle of a hunting region.) The polyvinyl is normally designed in a loose weave pattern. Polyvinyl is damage caused by dirt and oils. Horse owners have two different types of fly sheets to select from, a scrim sheet and a turnout fly sheet. Fly sheets that are designed for turnout purposes are typically made of a stiffer lightweight material then scrim fly sheets. When outfitting a horse with a turnout fly sheet owners should make sure that the sheet fits well enough that the breast straps, surcingles, and leg straps do not have to be tightened excessively which can impede the horses movement. Owners should not cross the leg straps of a turnout fly sheet. Leaving the leg straps uncrossed will allow the horse to flap his under his belly without ensnaring it in the straps. When purchasing a fly sheet for turnout owners should look for one made of a lightweight mesh material that is easy to clean. In the event of severe stains (manure and grass are the most common) blanket owners can try using a stiff, sudsy brush directly on the stain. this works especially well if the blanket is laid on a concrete surface. A fly sheet made with polyvinyl will typically dry within thirty minutes of being washed. Machine washable is ideal. It is not a bad idea to purchase two turnout fly sheets, that way if one gets dirty or tears owners have another one available. A well crafted turnout fly sheet will be designed to tear if the horse gets it caught on something but should be designed in such a way that the damage will be minimal. Most horse owners prefer elastic leg straps on their turnout fly sheets over the nylons variety. Scrim flysheets are designed to be used while the horse is in a stall, typically after a thorough grooming has removed all the naturally protective dirt and oils from the horses coat. Scrim fly sheets are designed to loosely cover the horses body. because of the loose fit horses should never be turned loose while clothed in a scrim fly sheet. Many owners also use scrim fly sheets as an anti-sweat blanket. The mesh design of fly sheets will not prevent the horse from becoming dirty and dusty like solid blankets. A fly sheet should help wick moisture away from the horses body which will keep them cool and comfortable throughout the hot summer months. Are Horse Blankets Really Necessary? Physically the horse is a thing of incredible beauty and unbelievable wonder. There are very few things in the world more beautiful then a well groomed horse in motion. It doesn't matter if that horse is performing a complicated dressage test, running down the backstretch, sailing over a jump, or chasing after a calf, the horse is a thing of incredible beauty. In addition to being structurally designed to steal your breath , horses have a hair coat that is designed to withstand the elements. As long as they have plenty of fresh water, lots of roughage and a good shelter there is very little reason to blanket a horse. Most breeds have skins that are fairly tough. In addition to a tough skin they are blessed with a wonderful hair coat. Their hair is designed to fluff and catch pockets of air, once the air is caught in the hair it is warmed with the horses body heat. A healthy horse with a good hair coat will stay warm, wrapped in their air pocket throughout the winter. If you don't believe drive past a field of unlamented horses in the winter, chances are pretty good that they will be completely ignoring any shelter they have been given. The only time the average horse has a real problem with staying warm is if they have gotten wet, or if their hair has been flattened by mud. Just because the average horse doesn't need a blanket in the winter doesn't mean that they all don't. Several breeds, including Arabians and Thoroughbreds, have thin skin that is easily chilled. Older horses can also have a difficult time staying warm. Horses that have had an injury or illness that caused them to loose hair. Horses that are underweight are another group of horses that should be watched carefully to make sure they don't develop a chill. There are a variety of reason's horse owners might choose to leave their horse blanketed during the winter months. Some people who ride during the winter months choose to save time cooling out and waiting for their horse to dry after it has been worked by body clipping, horses that have been body clipped must be blanketed. Several show barns might decided to leave their horses blanketed so they are able to attend shows in the early spring with a horse that is sleek and shiny as opposed to a horse that is covered in a thick winter fuzz. In the summer there are three main reasons a horse owner might choose to blanket their horse. Some horses, especially light colour ones are prone to sunburn, wearing a light weight blanket allows these horses to be outside without burning. Some horses are highly susceptible to bug bites a turnout fly sheet prevents bugs from biting their sensitive skin. Horse owners who spend a great deal of time on the show circuit will use a light weigh sheet to prevent the sun from bleaching their show horses coat. A few horse owners will even resort to a heavy weight turnout rug in an attempt to help sweat off a few of their equine friends excessive pounds. About Horse Saddles and Horse Blankets Horse saddles and horse blankets are something people usually associate together when the horse comes to mind. If you plan to ride your horse, you'll need both. Even if you don't have to use the horse blanket with the horse saddle, you'll still want a horse blanket for other times. You'll want one when your horse is kept in a drafty stall, when your horse is waiting out in the cold weather for a show, when your horse is waiting in a holding pen for vet's attention and it is cold outside. When you think of buying a new horse saddle, consider the trial period in case you'll want to return it for a better fit. Surely you didn't think it would be as easy as just buying a universal saddle fit for any horse or rider? No, my unsuspecting horse friend, it is, unfortunately more involved than that. Oh, but the journey for the proper saddle and blanket is well worth the efforts both for you and your equine partner. Buying a horse saddle that doesn't fit the horse, rider, or the occasion will only cause regrets and soreness that could be avoided by a thoughtful purchase. Ask any horse enthusiast and you'll find that buying the proper gear is a welcome investment! You'll want to consider what type of riding you'll do. Saddles are basically wood or fiberglass in frame that is covered with leather. Although, you'll find technical advances have allowed for the more modern synthetic material in lieu of the leather covering. Regardless of what your saddle is constructed of, the quality and purpose and fit are most important. You'll want your money's worth. There are several different choices to make before purchasing a blanket as well. You must have a blanket under a western saddle for the horse and rider to be comfortable during the ride. Blankets are made for performance, for miniature horses, and for show. Although the Navajo horse blanket is a popular choice is the western style is a consideration, there are others available. There are quilted blankets, foal blankets, antisweat sheets, and cooling blankets. For your added comfort, there are softee seats, suede seats, and even shock absorbers, which might be welcomed after a lengthy time away from riding because of medical reasons. Whatever type of horse saddle or horse blanket you'll require be certain both will best benefit you and your horse. The saddle must fit not only the size of the horse, but the size and shape of the rider as well. A poor fit can cause sure muscles, blisters, and bruising for you both. Not only should you consider this for yourself, but for children riders. The child will continue to grow, but the saddle should fit them at their current size. Saddles used for other than pleasure riding include those bought for endurance, show, roping, barrel races, and ponies. There are many different brands of all these types of saddles. It's a matter of choice, price, and availability. Happy hunting! Hail, Ye Olde Horse Blanket! The horse blanket has been around for many years. As long as cowboys and Indians have existed, so has the use of the horse blanket. A welcome addition to any true-blue western cowboy's stock of horse paraphernalia, the horse blanket can be useful and pleasing to the eye as well. Most story books about horses and cowboys or Indians will include a reference to or a picture of a horse blanket. It is also a work of art for collectors and to western museums. Where to buy a horse blanket is not a problem as there are so many outlets available both online and in the 'real' world, so to speak. A selection could be as close as your local feed store. Many magazines that advertise western or Indian related items will carry horse blankets. Some of the bigger, well-known flea markets also are sure to have someone dealing in horse blankets. Some of the companies that sell western items and equipment are American Saddlery, Cottage Craft, Classic Equine, Horsewear, and Cowboy Brand. A horse blanket was used in the Wild West days of gun fighting, in theaters with plays about western days, in farms and ranches around the globe. Soldiers who fought wars on horseback used the horse blanket. There are rodeos across the United States, and you won't see a rodeo without seeing a horse blanket. It is well-known to people who don't even ride horses. You can find them sold at travel stops and tourist stores, although some may only be decorative and less functional to the real cowboy or cowgirl. A restaurant that advertises steak as one of its main attractions might have a statue on display with a horse and its trusty blanket. The fibers in a good horse blanket will wick away the sweat from the horse's back. Cooler blankets help keep the horse comfortable while they wait in the heat of the sun or in a hot building, such as an auction building or a barn with poor airflow. The horse blanket is easy to care for and only looks better as it ages, although excessive wear will merit replacement for your horse's benefit. A torn or holey blanket is sure to have less ability to do what it is meant to do. The horse blanket is a staple for the hard-core cowboy or frequent rider. It is a help to ranch hands when they have to stay out in the weather during round-ups of livestock. Even if the horse doesn't need the blanket, the rider might. It makes a nice pallet to shield the rider from the ground should they spend a night by the campfire! It's certain to pad the head better than a rock should a nap be necessary during work breaks. It may even be used as a changing curtain should a lady rider or work hand be mixed among the men folk! (No peaking, fellows!) You could place it under your basket and dinnerware to protect your picnic from the insects crawling around by spreading it over the ground or a nearby rock while you eat. What's That Under Your Saddle? The horse blanket was created for functional use, to be placed under the saddle as an extra cushion, or to be used when a saddle was not available or not necessary. When riding without a saddle, the blanket can soak up sweat or dirt from the horse to prevent or reduce transfer onto your clothing and makes the ride a bit more comfortable for the animal. It grew in popularity over the years and became an item of decoration, both on the horse and in the home. The saddle sits on top of the blanket, which also helps protect the lining of the saddle. The blanket peeks out underneath to cover the pad placed on the horse's back. This can provide decoration if you have an elaborate blanket with hanging fringe. It can enhance the beauty of your horse and the beauty of a new or favorite saddle. Sometimes the blankets are not elaborate and fringed and are of a more useful image. The blankets come around to attach in the front, then there are attachments for each back leg as well to keep the blanket in place. It provides warmth and comfort to your prize horse and majestic pet. Some horse blankets are called rugs. It seems funny to think of a rug being placed on your horse's back, especially under the saddle. In the past, these rugs were made of canvas or something called jute, which is a strong fiber used for making burlap or rope. Some blankets have an item called a surcingle sewn to keep them place. A surcingle is a strap that goes around the horse's body to bind on a saddle. It should also have a warm wool lining. If your stabled horse has a thin coat or has been clipped, you may want to provide a horse blanket for warmth. While you sit in your warm home, out of the cold, you can be comforted knowing your valued pet has additional protection from the weather. The horse will feel more loved and cared for, and will be more willing to respond to your attentions. Some horse enthusiasts obtain day rugs and night rugs. Waterproof canvas has been used in the making of horse blankets, to further protect from the weather and also help lengthen the life of the blanket. If you are using your animal as a show horse, you might want to provide a saddle with a blanket in matching colors, maybe you'll want your initials on the blanket for advertisement purposes while your horse waits. You can custom order your saddle and your blankets. Sometimes the blanket is placed next to the horse and the pad is placed on top, then the saddle is added. You should always use a pad or blanket under a Western saddle. Besides being functional as added padding and protection for your clothing if you ride without a saddle, the blanket can be used to help your horse get comfortable with having weight on its back. What Is Western Tack? Western tack is also known as 'cowboy tack'. There is a difference in some of the western tack as opposed to, say, English tack. The English, for instance, have different tack to accommodate their different usage and riding styles. Western tack is used more for the purpose of riding the range, in rodeo events, western horse shows, and on western ranches and farms in North and South America. Western saddles have no padding and require the use of a horse blanket for the animal's comfort. The English saddle has no horn. For the uninformed, no, this is not a reference to a horn that honks. If you insist, you could rig a bicycle horn to your tack somewhere, somehow, just for kicks. Your horse may not appreciate the unwelcome attention it would surely invite from passersby. The temptation to create noise could spook or irritate your beloved pet. The western saddle has a horn for the practical use of holding a rope to lasso livestock and for your added convenience and support. There is much more to western tack than the saddle. If you haven't a clue as to what owning a horse involves, review the following short list to get familiar with the term western tack. Breast collars, rope/webbing, western bridles, roping reins, training supplies, spurs, whips, saddles, cinches, girths, pads, horse blankets, stirrups, halters, leads, horseshoes. Does it seem overwhelming? To a beginning horse owner, it certainly could be! Don't despair or give up easily. After all, anything worth having is worth learning about! There's a wealth of information available about horses, western tack, horse blankets, how to care for horses, where to buy your equipment, feeding, vet supplies, and fencing. Make sure you do your research, preferably before you begin your journey as a proud horse owner! There are several words to use to search for information on tack, including western tack, tack, and equipment for horses, cowboy tack, equestrian supplies, and horse supplies. Even a search for horse blankets can lead to a discovery for tack. Almost any area of the country is sure to turn up a discovery of someone who owns a horse or is a collector of western tack or horse blankets. Although the horse blanket may be considered more of a supply than a piece of equipment, it is still associated with western tack. It is a necessary addition to your collection of horse care items. Your horse blanket can also be used as more than just a blanket for your horse. Suppose you have to spend a night out on the range. You could snuggle up to your horse and share his blanket for warmth! This is, or course, assuming your horse is a snuggler! If it's a nice, clear, warm night, you could use your horse blanket for a pillow or just to lie on. If you are a collector of western tack, consider adding the horse blanket to your precious list of items to complete the picture. Saddles and Horse Blankets They would seem to be a team anywhere, the saddles and horse blankets. Western saddles and horse blankets are a necessary couple. Not all saddles require the use of a horse blanket. Indeed, there is also padding which could eliminate the need for the horse blanket under a saddle. Saddles are plentiful and varied. There are all sorts of types, styles, price ranges, colors, uses, and horse blankets for saddles. The blanket is a barrier between the saddle and the horse's skin. It provides a measure of comfort to an otherwise irritating situation. One wants the horse as comfortable and cared-for as possible to get the best ride and relationship with the horse. Saddles can say a lot about the rider. It says you either use it a lot or just a little, it says you take care of it or you neglect it, it says what you use the horse for, whether or not you are an owner who prefers your materials simple or detailed, it can even say which area you are from and how much money you choose to put into your equipment. The horse blanket can say something about your taste. It can say whether or not you have shopped recently and bought a new blanket or whether you are using a favorite, well-worn blanket. It can say whether or not you prefer elaborate style or just the basics. It can say whether or not you care to match your colors to your other accessories. It can say where you shop if it is a certain brand or style. Saddles and horse blankets are a must if you own a horse in a colder region of the United States. Horse blankets are the horse's jacket, if you will. If you wouldn't stay in your barn without a jacket, why would you expect your horse to? Horse blankets and saddles don't need to be expensive to be useful. Although you want what is the best quality for your horse, you can get better deals on them if you shop around and price-check. Just remember that you get what you pay for in many cases. Cheap saddles and horse blankets may well be just that! Another point to remember is that pretty may not go hand-in-hand with practical. Saddles and blankets must meet the needs of the services you will perform with your horse. Are you buying them for the horse's comfort or for your own vanity? One may not benefit the other. Good, used saddles and blankets may be all you require. New is not necessarily a benefit, especially if you are just starting out in the horse business and are stretching your funds. You can sometimes get really good deals on used saddles as opposed to new ones. Someone may be selling them because they are getting out of the business of owning horses. Whatever the case, the saddles and the horse blankets should compliment each other in usage and at times in image. A show horse would not get best of show if he has an old, worn saddle and blanket.
Horse Tack-Purchasing a Western Saddle Blanket At first it can seems like such a simple task, all you have to do is open that glossy horse supply and tack catalog that is laying on the table and purchase a new Western saddle pad. No problem. Just a few short seconds after opening the catalog you realize exactly how big a project you are about to undertake. Instead of opening the catalog and finding the one or two saddle pads you expected you find your self facing page after page after page of saddle pads. Each saddle pad has its own cut, material type, and function. The magazine offers a brief blurb on each pad but nothing that is really helpful. The only thing that the blankets seem to have in common is the price...expensive. The first thing you need to consider is your budget. The typical horse person operates on a tight budget. Every day they are confronted with a flood of bills that never seems to stop, feed bills, veterinarian bills, board bills, lesson bills, and miscellaneous bills. It is tempting to purchase the cheapest saddle blanket the catalogue sells. Before you place that order you should stop and think. When it comes to tack cheaper is typically not better. Cheap saddle blankets tend to be so thin that they offer next to no cushioning, the flimsy material often bunches and can cause saddle sores if the owner is negligent when saddling. Cheap blankets can slide while the owner is riding (this is especially true if your horse is as round as a barrel). The advantage to cheap saddle blankets is that they are typically washing machine cleanable, but the downside is that they seldom last for more then a few cleanings. The one time I recommend buying a really cheap Western saddle pad is when you are first saddling a young horse. If cost is a major issue consider looking in the clearance sections of the catalogs and tack stores. I've found that I typically find the best deals on saddle blankets when I'm not looking for one. The second thing you need to take into consideration when you are looking for a Western saddle blanket is what type of saddle do you have. Not all Western saddles are designed the same, there are saddles cut to fit specific breeds (Arabians and Quarter Horses typically use a different saddle design), saddles that are designed for different purposes (a barrel racing saddle looks completely different from a saddle that a roper will be riding in). The important thing to remember is that the when the saddle pad is on, no part of the underside of the saddle should be touching the horses back. It is important to consider your horses body type when you are purchasing a saddle blanket. If you own a horse whose mid section resembles a barrel and their withers are nothing more then a distant memory (this is the typical body type of ponies) you will want to look for a saddle pad that is made of material that is designed not to slip and slide all over the place. If you are a rider that typically leans heavily on one side of your saddle you will also want to consider a non-slip saddle blanket. If your horse has prominent withers you will want to look for a saddle blanket that will add extra protection and padding in the front. A swaybacked horse requires a saddle pad that will offer extra support everywhere, you'll also want to look for a saddle pad that is thick enough you saddle will sit above the horses withers and hips. Western saddle pads are not easy to clean. They are typically to stiff and cumbersome to fit in a washing machine and if you are able to cram them into your washing machine you will quickly learn that it can take several days before they are dry. Once a Western saddle pad has been washed it typically doesn't look the same again. Most Western riders try to keep their saddle pads clean by placing a cheap Navajo rug under the think fluffy Western Blanket. Horse blankets and Horse Boots Do Have Their Purposes "Horse boots?" you ask. "Horse blankets...does my horse come with its own wardrobe?" The purchase of a horse can bring so many changes; it can overwhelm the owner just by the information needed on the supplies. For your journey into horse care, you'll need good horse blankets. More than one is quite handy as one alone is sure to get dirty and need attention just when you count on it the most. The horse blanket, of course, usually goes along with owning a western saddle, which requires the use of a blanket underneath because of the lack of padding. It would be cruel to use a western saddle without a horse blanket, and usually a pad is used in addition to the blanket. You want optimum performance from your animal. You get that result by taking good care of your horse, which mean using the proper equipment and supplies. Aside from the horse blankets, pads, and saddle, you'll want other things such as a horse trailer for hauling the animal, a properly fenced area for grazing, a barn for storing hay and stalling the horse, curry combs for the care of the mane and tail and to groom the horse's coat of hair, a big water barrel or trough, grains for feeding, bridles, bits, a halter, and various other items that might come in use. One of those items could possibly be horse boots. Don't worry, you won't have to take your pet shopping and spend hours at the shoe store while they choose their selections! You could be amazed, however, at the stores that do sell horse boots and at how many varieties there are. There may be as many as there are different selections of blankets. Your beloved pet need not be dressed in its "horse clothes" each time it leaves the barn. Unlike our clothes, which we could get arrested for not wearing in public, your horse would wear its clothes only when appropriate for the situation. As with the horse blankets, the horse boots are not just for looks. You can, however, match the color of the boots to the color of the blanket, if that is an issue for say, show purposes. Available for purchase are vinyl boots, bell boots, rubber bell boots, and splint boots among others. You can buy boot covers to keep the boots clean. One of the important uses of horse boots is for the miniature horse used as a guide horse for the blind. These tiny creatures are extremely intelligent and must be protected from the abuse of the city sidewalks and scorching pavement. Horse boots have occasionally been used in lieu of horseshoes, yet another necessity for the new horse owner to learn about. The shoes in question do not refer to dress shoes or casual wear, but the shaped metal pounded into the bottoms of a horse's hooves. Hardened surfaces can be brutal against a horse's hooves. Especially a horse subjected to tough work conditions. One type of horse that comes to mind is the horse used for police patrol duty in cities. No matter what activity you choose to use your horse for, remember it is under your care and control and deserves the best treatment. Horse Blankets and Dressage, you ask? For someone unfamiliar with horses and anything associated with horses, the word dressage might conjure up a few other images besides that of its true meaning. One might wonder if it means clothing. How absurd to think of a horse wearing clothing! In a sense, horses do wear what you might consider horse clothing. I suppose you could say its horse blanket is its clothing. Although it could seem comical to imagine a horse in a pair of jeans or a tuxedo! Could dressage mean bandages? Horses do, after all, require medical attention at times. They get cuts and scrapes just as we humans do. Horses don't wear the same types of band aids as people, though. For one thing, there is all that hair! People can, however, use a certain tape on their wounds similar to the tape used to cover a horse's wound. It doesn't stick to the hair but sticks to itself. So, what does this term 'dressage' mean? One dictionary interpretation is horsemanship using slight movements to control the horse. "Okay," you say, "what does controlling a horse have to do with horse blankets? It isn't as though you can use the blanket to apply his brakes or have him turn. You won't find blankets listed as part of the requirements for dressage shows or in the lists of dressage supplies sold. A list of dressage supplies would include things like fleece or velvet pads, girths, dressage leathers, boot, breeches, and coats for the riders, snaffle bridles, double bridles, stock pins, brow bands, cones for the course, bits, and saddle carriers. So, let's get to the part where a blanket is an important item should you decide to enter the world of dressage. A comfortable horse blanket that fits the horse's needs, size, and the climate is an essential part of owning a horse. When you prepare a horse for dressage, you wouldn't want your improper use of a horse blanket during the care of your horse to interfere with your training. An uncomfortable horse makes a less willing horse. Perhaps, you could say, a horse with attitude! Obedience in dressage is essential. It's a horse-related sport. Showmanship is the key, and attitude affects showmanship. Attitude is affected by how well you have cared for your horse, which includes use of the proper blanket. Suppose you wear socks that cause blisters on your feet, or maybe you use detergent that causes a rash when you wear your clothing. Maybe your shirt is too tight and restricts your movement and cuts off the circulation or inhibits your movement because it is too large. Maybe you are forced to wear a wool suit while the weather is 110 degrees! If you are continually subjected to these abuses, it will affect your attitude and your performance. Hence, the horse blanket will play an indirect part in your dressage, which involves ease of control and fluid movement. Improper fit of the horse blanket results in friction-related injuries. Why Leg Wraps and Horse Blankets are Handy Many items are needed to care for horses. Let's explore two such items now. Suppose your horse needed added warmth? Would you just let it shiver and risk illness? No, you'd provide it with something called a horse blanket. Horse blankets are quite handy and can be used in many different ways, to benefit both you and your horse. Some people collect horse blankets to use as decorations around their home, office, or restaurant. Museums have collections of horse blankets, which date back centuries. A true horseman respects the use of the horse blanket and has discovered much value in owning several. The old West was not complete without horse blankets. They kept the horse comfortable by providing padding underneath the saddle, kept the horse warm and even at times provided warmth or a pillow for the rider. They were valuable to use for trade in areas where they were not readily available. Now let's discuss the leg wrap. If you prefer, you can find a leg wrap to match the color of your horse blanket. This might be an issue is you are entering a parade or showing your horse or if you just prefer such attention to detail. There are many colors available in leg wraps. Horses do get injuries and require leg wraps as part of your medical supplies. A conscientious horse owner would keep a few on hand for emergencies. They are sold at veterinary supply offices. Use your leg wraps wisely so as to enhance and not hinder the healing process of your wounded animal. Magnetic leg wraps are sold for aid to circulation problems and to enhance cellular activity for quicker healing. This might benefit problems with joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. There are elastic bandage leg wraps, also used by some people for their own injuries, sold in four by five yard rolls, which stick to themselves. Should you want your youngster to feel important while caring for your wounded pet, you could use animal print leg wraps. This would make learning about horse care more appealing for the child. If color isn't an issue, there is your basic black leg wrap, made of neoprene. Or you could buy a fancy satin white leg wrap. Quilted leg wraps can be washed in your washer and thrown into your dryer, providing longer lasting use. If you are out rounding up livestock far away from the home and maybe are unable to get back quickly, suppose your horse develops cuts on his legs and you have nothing suitable to use as a bandage or leg protection before heading into rougher territory. Once more, we bring leg wraps and horse blankets together. What's more important, the blanket, or your animal's welfare? Cut off a piece of the horse blanket and use it as a temporary leg wrap. Always consider consulting your local veterinarian for your horse's injuries. A leg wrap may not be necessary and if not used properly could inhibit the results. Why Horse Blankets are Handy with Splints What do you need for the proper care of your horse? Besides things such as horse blankets, saddles, a horse trailer, the right food, clean water, adequate housing and roaming room, a horse brush, treats, careful training, and lots of love and attention? You need veterinary care. One of the things a horse can encounter includes something called splints. There are splint bones, not to be confused with the injury itself; however, splints do affect the area of the splint bones. There is a bone called the cannon that is affected as well. Blind splints occur between the two. These are harder to diagnose and take longer to heal. The locations of the splint bones run alongside the cannon bone, being attached by a ligament to the cannon bone itself. The ligament is called the "interosseous ligament". Understanding the terms will help familiarize you when the vet comes to call. This is helpful especially if you are a first-time horse owner. Pain and swelling of the bone area occurs on the inside of the leg, just below the knees. It is possible for this injury to happen to the back legs as well. Splints normally would happen to a horse up to five years of age. The condition can cause lameness for several weeks. Fast, hard overworking can cause splints, so please be kind and considerate to your animal and don't expect him to work until he literally drops from exhaustion. Especially understand that the work load and pace must be reduced for the horse to heal. Try to put yourself in his place. The horse can't tell you verbally when he's had enough. If you had a sprain or a fracture, you would want the same consideration from others. The area will feel hot to the touch when inflamed. Help your horse remain calm, keep him or her in an area where no one and nothing could spook, hose the hot area with cold water. Allow rest. Although you should reduce the workload, light exercise on a soft surface is recommended to encourage the healing bone growth. It may take a few days of treatment with the cold therapy. Surgery is possible, but it is not as productive as you would think and may increase the size of the splint injury. Splints are usually caused by a hard hit to the splint bone area, such as another horse's kick. Working on hard surfaces is another possible cause, but this usually will affect both legs at once. When you place your horse on rest and recovery, remember to put that horse blanket to good use. If a horse is kept warm and comfortable, healing will be much more pleasant. The horse blanket is like a jacket to a horse, and an injured horse may need his jacket more than normal. If he is running fever from an inflammation, he may get chills. If he is recovering during the cold weather season, the blanket may save an even bigger vet bill! If treated properly, complete healing is expected. When Do You Need Horse Equipment? Any prospective horse owner should know that your horse equipment is a necessity when you decide to buy a horse. Ask someone who already owns a horse and they'll probably make it seem like owning a horse is quick and easy. Well, it can be if you start with the proper horse equipment. First you'll need to remember that a horse blanket is a useful item to have, not to mention a necessity should you also buy a western saddle. Well, what's the big deal about adding a saddle to your list of horse equipment? A saddle comes in all shapes and sizes and functions. Yes, a saddle should fit the occasion. If you only plan to pleasure ride, you won't need a barrel racer's saddle. If you won't be racing your horse professionally, you won't need a saddle fit for a horse jockey. The proper horse equipment can make your horse like you and want to stick around or be difficult from the first day! Some horses, mind you, do have a more aggressive temperament and can be stubborn no matter how much you try to please them. They are, in this way, like some people who come to mind who are better off not mentioned! But for the most part, horse ownership can be a welcome adventure. So can the process of getting the perfect horse equipment. Again--don't forget the horse blanket! Horses don't require much clothing, as anyone knows. But a horse blanket could be considered their clothing and is an essential piece to add to the list of equipment. Even little puppies like to have their own blankies! Besides the possibility of becoming a mental security blanket, the horse blanket has several more important uses, and you may even want to purchase one for yourself. When you choose your horse equipment, or even your horse blanket, seek the aid of an experienced horseman. You may want advice from both someone who is new to the field, to avoid the same mistakes as them, and someone who has been a horse owner for several years who can share with you which pieces you'll want to make sure are quality choices and where to find them. Even the horse blanket should be a quality piece of work. Mentioned earlier was the necessity of buying a horse blanket for use with the western saddle. This type saddle is not padded and can be a source of discomfort for the horse when used alone. A horse blanket must be placed underneath the saddle to prevent blisters, raw patches caused by sweat and rubbing, and muscle soreness. A thoughtful rider gains better results from the animal. If you want your horse to respect you, you must respect your horse. As there are different types and sizes of saddles, different types and sizes of blankets are available. Sometimes no blanket is necessary. Whatever the case may be, please understand the importance of having the right equipment for the right situation. The horse will thank you by way of affection and performance, not to mention good health and form. Do You Show Your Horse Love in The Winter? Let us say winter is here and you're warm and cozy by the fireplace, drinking the hot chocolate and reading a good book. Maybe you are enjoying some soothing music while ensconced in your favorite pajamas; all wrapped up comfortably in your soft blanket while the snow falls lightly outside. What about your horse? Is your horse in a clean, warm stall in the barn, with fresh hay and clean water, protected from the elements? Did you remember his horse blanket? It's not as though he can waltz over to his little closet and take it out of the drawer! Your precious investment is depending on you to remember the particulars of his care. A cold horse in winter is a pitiful thing indeed. If you decide to buy a horse, even if it is just for the sake of saying you own one, please take the time to provide proper care and housing, medical attention, and the right equipment. Part of that equipment and proper care involves the horse blanket. A horse blanket is particularly needed in the cold, hard elements of the winter season. The horse has no way of actually saying, "Hey, could you hand me that blanket, please?" It is a living, breathing creation and is counting on the master of the estate to give it what it needs to survive. The horse blankets need not be elaborate, expensive pieces of valuable art. They simply need to be functional for the animal. The function here is to hold in the animal's body heat in the winter. Of course, they are also used as cushioning underneath the saddles among other things. Which, by the way, is also needed in the winter and the blanket helps the horse stay warmer while being ridden outside. Miniature horses have their own furry horse blankets in the winter. Even though all horses have thicker hair in the winter, the minis look woolly! They sometimes enjoy running in the snow just for fun! One type of miniature horse is the Falabella, which are said to be survivors of the Ice Age. They must have been an extremely tough breed of animal to survive the harsh winters from that period of time. Maybe you are wondering if the horses of the Ice Age needed blankets. While I'm sure plenty survived without them, horses being gentled and tamed by mankind have also been bred somewhat spoiled or weakened, if you will. I suppose you could compare it to a dog that has been kept inside with the central heat since a pup. If you put the dog outside in the yard in the harsh winter, it will struggle against the cold. Besides, just because a horse survived the Ice Age doesn't mean he should be forced to endure the winter without a horse blanket now. Humans survived living in caves with no electricity or modern amenities, but now we've spoiled and pampered ourselves and most would have a hard time surviving harsh conditions of nature. So, care for your horse with the love and tenderness that is deserved. Choosing Tack for the Dressage Horse Dressage is a riding discipline that celebrates discipline, grace, elegance, and beauty. It is a riding discipline that is made even more beautiful by its simplicity. When is comes to outfitting the dressage rider less is better. A rider competing in the lower levels should be wearing well polished black hunt or field boots. They should have invested in a pair of britches. A clean white shirt should be worn with a collar and ta stock pin. Covering the white shirt should be wearing a dark colored jacket. The riders hands should be covered in dark colored gloves that will help disguise the movement of the riders hands. If the rider has long hair is should be gathered up and tucked neatly out of sight. On the riders head should be a black helmet. If the rider is a junior rider, under the age of eighteen, many show committees require that the rider's helmet should meet ASTM/SEI standards and have a fastened harness. Unless the rider is aboard a hot horse (high spirited horse with an excessive amount of go) the rider should have a pair of spurs which help dress up the rider's leg. A rider competing in the lower levels of dressage should make sure their horses tack follows the same simple guidelines as the riders apparel. Before entering the competition the horses coat should be clean and well groomed. Long before leaving for the show the rider should have pulled their horses mane and on the morning of the show they should have plaited the shortened, thinned mane into several tidy braids, if they have a horse with a nice steady head set they can wrap the braids with white adhesive tape, at the lower levels of competition braids are not actually required but they are a sign of respect. The tail should be left upbraided. The horses hooves should be polished with either clear or black hoof polish. The horses bit should be a simple snaffle, curb bits are not acceptable in dressage competitions, the bit can not include any copper. The bit should be attached to a plain leather bridle. On the horses back their should be a leather saddle. At the lower levels of competition the rider can choose between a black or brown colored saddle and they have the option of using a dressage saddle or a dressage saddle. Under the saddle their should be a saddle blanket, the blanket can be black or white and be either a square cut or can be shaped to follow the line of the saddle. Once a rider has reached the upper levels of dressage competition their are a few subtle changes in their show attire. FEI rules require that they wear a pair of white britches. Hunt coats are no longer allowed, riders are required to wear the longer, more elegant shad belly. Although their is no rule banning the wearing of a helmet most riders choose to wear a derby style hat. Black gloves are replaced with white gloves. Just like the riders show clothing there are some changes made in the horses tack. The bridle must be made of black leather, in the horses mouth their should be two bits in the horses mouth, a snaffle bit and a curb bit. A whip is no longer allowed in competition. The horse must be braided. The saddle must be a dressage style cut and be made of black leather. Some riders have chosen to add a jewel encrusted brow band to dress up a plain horses head. A Peek into The History of Horse Blankets Horse blankets have been used at ceremonies and other special occasions. The intention was actual use under a saddle, often with an added pad. The blanket also served to cover the pad for a better look for riding or for show. The blanket could be used when riding with no saddle or pad, serving as a barrier between the person and the horse. Native American Indians wove their own horse blankets and still make them today. Blankets were traded for other items, as well. The Navajo blankets are an especially popular decorative horse blanket. Found with bright inks or earth tones, usually with fringed ends. They were also used as rugs by the early Indians, woven smaller for that use or for decoration on top of the saddle. The most popular horse blankets were the double blankets, which were used by folding in half before placing on the horse. Although it wasn't their only design, the Navajo woven horse blankets can be easily recognized by the diamond patterns woven into them. An authentic Navajo horse blanket is to be admired for its simple, artistic quality. It should also be a reason to respect the person who put his or her time and effort into its creation. The double saddle blankets were woven with no art in the centers. These would be covered by the saddles, making the extra effort impractical as they could be out-of-sight when used by the rider. The horse blanket could be hung on a wall in a log cabin and bring out a surreal sense of its natural beauty. Photographs and posters or wall paintings of these horse blankets could be added to the cabin to create a western theme. Search for books bout the Navajo horse blankets, weaving, and inks made by the Navajo indians to cultivate knowledge and respect for the weavers and these beautiful works of art. It will take the minds of your visitors back in time and help them appreciate the work that went into making these wonderful results. What constitutes a fine piece of art is the beauty in the eye of the beholder. The horse blankets are just as lovely when they have been used and have become worn as they were when they were new. The usage seems to add character and may create some interesting stories from the riders. The horse blankets have the ability to stimulate the three senses of sight, touch, and smell (which could be good or bad, depending on the smell it brings!). The horse blankets that were woven could be washed in cold water with little or no detergent and hung to dry. Although in the early western days, they were most likely wrung out in a nearby creek or river and laid on a rock to dry. Now there are horse blankets made of other fabrics which most likely are better at resisting stains and other such improvements modernization brings. Horse blankets have value especially to anyone interested in Western culture.
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