So, blanketing season is just around the corner, as my mother likes to remind me constantly. In her mind, starting from July onwards, each passing day is just one step closer to 80 inches of snow. I hate to even begin to consider that prospect.
I always hated to blanket my horses. Mainly because I've always had cranky mares that snapped at me everytime I even thought about the word blanket. But I've also never been one of those people who felt the need to body clip and blanket the hell out of my horses. I mean, if you're going to work your horse in the winter (which I assume you are), he or she should be comfortable, not sweat and be able to cool out easily. This is not rocket science. Sometimes this is fairly easily accomplished simply by blanketing slightly more heavily throughout the season, to prevent excessive hair growth. But some horses' coats get a little out of control, and some horses run extra hot and sweat at the drop of a hat. So I can understand the need for some judicious body clipping, but people can also take it out of control. The majority of amateur horses in barns do not need a full body clip. It's silly. I particularly cringe at the prople who do a unnecessary full clip and then have to put so many blankets on the poor horse to keep him warm, that the weight alone is probably more aggravating to him than a bit of cold.
Regardless, whatever route you choose, we ALL blanket our horses at some point. And of course, the blankets get ripped and destroyed before you even put the horse back in his stall. Horses have an uncanny ability to discern the weakness inherent to every blanket and immediately exploit it. You may infer from all this that I am not a fan of spending a lot of money on a blanket that I know I will have to replace before I can even pay it off on my credit card. So, what's a girl to do?
Well, ebay is a great place to go for blankets, of course. But as much fun as I have browsing on ebay, I find I don't actually buy a lot on that site. All the major tack stores have great online sales obviously, but I find that my favorite blankets, the ones that have held up the best and have an awful lot of thought put into their design, are actually those from Schneiders. I know, I know. Arabian trainers swear by this outfitter, but if you tell anyone from outside of that world about this place, their eyes sort of glaze over. It's like you've suddenly started speaking a foreign language.
That is crazypants! Schneiders has some of the best prices you're going to find on high-quality blankets. Most of the prices hover somewhere between $60 - $120 and they have amazing post-season blowouts where I've gotten deals at half off the above prices. If you think that just because they are known as an Arabian & QH tack store that they don't have bigger sizes, think again. In fact, I find that they cater to alot of problem-sizes. They have "Big Fella" sizes (sizes up to 94) that aren't like your typical large sizings, in that they actually add on 2" for broader shoulders and 3-4" to the sides. They have pony sizing, foal sizing, even mini sizing. Those ranges are typically better than your typical tack shop. And one of my very favorite features is the adjusta-fit system, available on an awful lot of their wares. THIS IS GENIUS! And it will do wonders towards preventing rubs on the withers and shoulders. Honestly, all this 'system' consists of is an adjustable strap right where the horse's neck meets its shoulder. The strap controls the amount of pressure on the horse's back and withers, which is a literal lifesaver for the difficult to fit horse. I am not kidding. You must see it to believe me on this. Add all of to this their 1-year guarantee on many of the blankets and I don't really see how you can go wrong.
So, for all of you contemplating your winter blankets purchases, you would do really well to snoop around at their site. If you don't find what you want, well, there are plenty of options elsewhere. But I think of Schneiders as my little secret (ensconced as I am in the land of dressage queens and hunter princesses) and I really hope to give the tack shop more exposure outside of the non-Arabian & QH crowd.