How to Measure a Horse for a Blanket the Right Way

Like many other horse owners, you may have started to buy some of your horse’s equipment online. Not only is it more convenient but it can also be a lot cheaper.

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!

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What are horse blankets for?

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 and snow or too much sun and excessive heat.

Horse blanket protecting against cold

There’s plenty of different blankets to choose from depending on what you’re using it for.

You’ll also need different blankets based on whether your horse will be staying in the barn or turned out in the pasture. There are even fancy blankets useful for competitive events.

The importance of a good fit

You want your horse to be comfortable

It’s very important that your horse’s blanket fits them very well as it can be uncomfortable for your horse otherwise. Your horse isn’t going to like having restricted movements or portions of the blanket rubbing against him or her because its too tight.

And if it’s too big and gets caught on things, or causes your horse to trip or stumble while out in pasture – it will definitely not be something your horse will like having on.

Horse blanket on a foal

The last thing you need is your horse trying to actively remove his or her blanket.

I can tell you for a fact that this can damage the blanket, and your horse might end up injured.

You want the blanket, sheet or turnout to do its job

I can’t stress this enough: blanket sizes are so important. If the blanket is not fitted 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 the blanket 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 the blanket is too small, the blanket may not properly cover all the parts of your horse.

You want your horse to be safe

When blanket sizes don’t fit properly, they may also be a threat to your horse’s safety. Especially when your horse is turned out in pasture and they have freedom to move around a lot.

Your horse should be able to move freely

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 this could also result in injury from your horse stumbling and tripping over it.

A blanket 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 blanket could pull at their skin, or restrict jarring movements.

How to measure a horse for a blanket

The only equipment you need to measure a horse for a blanket is a fabric 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.

Step 2: Stand on the horse’s left next to their 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 you 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. 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.

How to measure a horse for a blanket

Step 5: Note this measurement.

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 this size to blanket sizes

Blankets generally have two different types of sizing depending whether they are American or European made – much like human sizes! American sizes go by 2 inch increments whereas European sizes are 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 blankets 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 speciality blanket.

Does your 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?

Check that your horse can graze

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 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 blanket 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. If you want a recommendation for a specific blanket, can check out my top rated waterproof turnout blanket for durability, safety and comfort, or three of my other favourite blankets. Another good read is how to choose the right blanket for your climate – which is super important!

If you have any questions or comments about how to measure a horse for a blanket, please leave them below!

Happy riding 🙂

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4 thoughts on “How to Measure a Horse for a Blanket the Right Way”

  1. Martina,

    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.


    • Hey Roger,

      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,

  2. 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!


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