Like many other horse owners, you may have started to buy some of your horse equipment online. Not only is it more convenient, but it can also be more affordable.
But when buying a blanket, sheet, or turnout for your horse online, you want to try and make sure the product will fit him or her properly before getting it.
Keep reading to find out how to measure a horse for a blanket so you can be confident that the blanket you order is the right one.
After all, no one wants the hassle of having to return a product, much less trying to get a refund!
What Are Horse Blankets Even For?
It might seem like an obvious question for some horse owners, but new horse owners might wonder if a horse blanket is even necessary!
Blankets are useful to protect your horse’s coat and keep them healthy and warm. Without a blanket, they could be exposed to damaging conditions such as wind, rain, cold weather, snow, too much sun, or excessive heat.
There are plenty of different blankets to choose from depending on what you need based on where you live, your horse’s age, your budget, etc.
You’ll also may need a few different blankets based on whether your horse will be staying in the barn or turned out in the pasture. There are stock blankets, turnout blankets, and there are even fancy blankets useful for competitive events.
Terminology: What’s the Difference Between a Stable Blanket, Turnout Blanket, and Stable Sheet?
Horse blankets generally the same purposes, but you may want a different kind depending on a few things:
- Fill & Weight: blankets tend to be thicker and have an inner fill to them and sheets tend to be lighter weight and be just a single layer without filling
- Location: stable blankets and stable sheets are for inside the barn, whereas a turnout blanket acts as a protective layer while your horse is in the field, paddock, or pasture)
- Water resistance: stable blankets and sheets are not meant to be waterproof since they’re mostly used inside, but turnout blankets and sheets usually have some degree of water resistance
- Fit & Cut: although it’s not always the case, stable blankets can have a tighter fit since the horse won’t be moving around as much, whereas turnout sheets & blankets will have a looser cut to allow for more movement
You will use the same measuring process whether you’re getting a blanket or a sheet, so I will use the two terms interchangeably in this article.
The Importance of a Good Fit
There are several reasons why you want to make sure you get the proper blanket size for your horse:
1. You Want Your Horse to Be Comfortable
It’s very important that your horse’s blanket fits them well, as it can be uncomfortable for your horse if it doesn’t. Your horse isn’t going to like having restricted movements or portions of the blanket rubbing against him or her because it’s too tight. (Too much rubbing could even result in hair loss for your horse!)
If the blanket is too big, it could get caught on things or causes your horse to trip or stumble while out in the pasture—not good!
The last thing you need is your horse trying to actively remove his or her blanket because they’re uncomfortable. I can tell you for a fact that this can damage the blanket, and your horse might end up injured.
2. You Want the Blanket or Sheet To Do Its Job!
I can’t stress this enough: blanket size is important. If it doesn’t fit properly, it won’t do the job that you bought it for. Blankets should create a protective barrier between your horse and everything else.
If it’s is too big, then mud, insects, and excess moisture can get trapped between the blanket and the horse. This can cause discomfort and irritation for your horse.
Conversely, if it’s too small, the blanket may not properly cover all the parts of your horse.
3. You Want Your Horse to Be Safe
When sheets don’t fit properly, they may also be a threat to your horse’s safety, especially when your horse is turned out in the pasture and they have the freedom to move around a lot.
If they are too tight and rub against certain portions of your horse for too long, they may cause irritation and sores that could then get infected.
If the blanket is too large, it could flap beneath your horse’s belly. In addition to this being uncomfortable for your horse, it could also result in injury from your horse stumbling and tripping over it.
As we discussed earlier, a sheet that’s too big could also get caught on things and prevent your horse from moving around and cause your horse to pull and jerk. Your horse trying to remove it from discomfort could also cause injury to your horse as the sheet could pull at their skin, or restrict jarring movements.
How to Measure Your Horse for a Blanket Correctly (Step by Step)
The only equipment you need to measure a horse for a blanket is a soft measuring tape! But I will say, ideally you should have two people to make the process easier.
So go find a friend!
Got your friend? Okay, let’s get into it.
Step 1: Have your horse stand squarely in an area with some room around him or her. You want your horse in a neutral position and on level ground.
Step 2: Stand on the horse’s left by their front leg and have your helper stand on the horse’s left by their hind leg.
Step 3: Run the measuring tape from the middle of the horse’s chest at the point where the bottom of your horse’s neck meets his or her chest. Run the tape over the widest part of your horse’s left shoulder and pass it to your helper.
Step 4: Make sure the measuring tape runs along the horse’s side closely, and keep the tape pulled tight. Bring the end of the measuring tape to the point of your horse’s rump where it meets the tail such that it runs parallel to the ground in a straight line.
Step 5: Write this horse measurement down.
Step 6 (For 1 person): If you do not have a helper, simply follow the same guidelines but reach as far as you can yourself and place your finger there. Note that measurement and then bring the beginning of the tape measure there and reach the middle of the tail.
Add up the measurements to get your total.
Matching To Horse Blanket Sizes
Now you need to take your measurements and make sure you match it to the right blanket or sheet size.
Blankets generally have two different types of sizing depending on whether they are American or European made—much like human sizes! American sizes go by 2-inch increments whereas European sizes go up by 3.
Regardless of what make you get, unless your measurement falls precisely on a size, you want to go ONE UP to the closest available size.
If you are planning on layering the blanket with another blanket or draping it over a saddle (a dress sheet) for competition arenas, then you want to go a size higher.
Note that some companies will have sheets that run slightly big or small, just like people’s clothing brands. But this measuring technique will get you very close to most of their measurements.
Some brands will have their very own measuring techniques from the manufacturer to reflect the specific blanket cut. Definitely read through those to double-check in case their methods are different, particularly if you are getting a specialty sheet.
Recommended Horse Blanket Brands
Now, you might be wondering if there are any specific horse blankets or sheets I recommend over others. There sure are!
Here are a few more guides that you might find helpful for your blanket shopping:
- How to Find the Best Horse Blanket for Your Needs
- How to Choose the Right Horse Blanket for Your Climate
- Your Guide to Turnout Blankets
- My Review of the WeatherBeeta Blanket (one of the best blanket brands!)
So, Does Your Horse Blanket Fit Properly?
Great—you’ve got your blanket! Here are some quick things you can do to make sure it fits properly before you leave your horse in it:
Getting dressed – Are you able to easily fit the blanket on your horse without obvious tightness or looseness?
Grazing – Is your horse able to lower his or her head to the floor without difficulty? Place a treat on the ground and check if there is any pressure at the front of the blanket.
Bathroom – Can your horse ‘have a bowel movement’ without any issues?
Shoulder room – Does the blanket fit well over the shoulders? Try slipping your hand between here – there should be just enough room.
Withers room – Is there enough room between the sheet and the withers? Try slipping your hand between here – there should be just enough room.
I hope this guide saved your time and problems getting your horse a great blanket. Happy riding 🙂
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4 thoughts on “How to Measure a Horse for a Blanket (the Right Way!)”
Great and practical advice! My sister-in-law and niece show Morgan horses. But I really never realized how much goes into choosing an appropriate blanket.
If you’re not familiar with Morgans, they are a “compact” horse first bred in the late 1700s. Part of their history was in Middlebury, Vermont, near the town I grew up in and near where my sister-in-law and niece live today.
I’m sorry to hear you have no horse riding opportunities in the city where you live. While I lived in San Francisco, one of my friends was able to work at a stable in Golden Gate Park in exchange for riding privileges. I hope you can someday find a similar opportunity until you get that farm!
Best of luck to you, and I’ll look forward to hearing more details from you.
Thank you for your comment! I am familiar with the breed much not much about their history and I’ve never ridden one. I know their great for show jumping though!
That’s great to hear that they are both showing – I’m sure they love it very much.
That’s okay, sometimes other things take priority but I’m determined that it’s just a matter of time before I get back on a farm 🙂 I’m definitely keeping my eyes open for that opportunity!
Best of luck to you and your family as well Roger,
I had no idea that there was so much to be considered to ensure the right blanket and more importantly, that the horse is happy and comfortable with it.
Very descriptive and detailed instructions here, Martina. Thank you!
Thank you Andrea!
Yes, with horses, there’s always so much more that goes into consideration than first meets the eye. You really just need to think of everything because anything that can go wrong will surely go wrong!
Choosing a comfortable but durable horse blanket is extremely important if you want to keep your horse happy, healthy and dry!
I’m happy that I could help 🙂 Let me know if you’re ever in need of more horse-related info!