For a horse to be comfortable at all times, then need to have a blanket that is properly fitted to them. To know how to measure a horse for a blanket, you'll need to decide on the type of blanket you think will be best. Some blankets have gussets and darts that must be incorporated into the measurement. Knowing where the blanket plans to sit along the neck and tail is important as well.
Some owners prefer to have a blanket be long enough to provide protection for turnout coverings. Others prefer to have their blankets stop short of the tail altogether, especially if the blanket is being used in the stable.
Once you've decided on your preferences, you'll need to get a soft fabric measuring tape that is long enough – at least 6 feet, and for some horses it may need to be 8-10 feet. You'll then need to stand the horse squarely on level ground so that your measurement can be accurate.
Taking the Measurement of Your Horse
With the soft fabric measuring tape in hand, you'll want to measure with inch increments from the very center of the horse's chest. This means starting where the base of the horse's neck meets the chest. From there, go over the point of the shoulder to the place where you want the blanket to end. For most blankets, this means you'll take down the measurement at the dock, or the center of the tail.
Now you'll want to repeat this measurement going over the other shoulder point. Most horses will have a measurement that is identical are virtually equal to the first measurement taken, but there can be a variation of 2-5 inches for some horses. You'll want to take the longer of the two measurements you obtain in order to determine the exact size of blanket that you will need.
If your two measurements are not identical or within 1 inch of each other, then it is a good idea to confirm your measurements just in case an error occurred. Repeat the measurement process described above one more time.
Then you'll want to take a measurement across the point of the buttocks. It's about 12 inches below where the tail and the body meet. Now add the longest side measurement and the buttocks measurement together.
This is the measurement that you can then take to purchase the correct size of blanket from your preferred retailer.
Getting Your Horse To Stand Still
Not every horse likes to stand still enough for you to take an accurate measurement. The bottom line is this: getting a horse to stand still means getting its attention. Follow the process you would take for grooming the horse and it will typically stand still. Taking the measurements while grooming can make this a rather fast and painless process.
For those horses which just won't stand still, then it may need to be tied to complete the measurement. This typically creates pulling and anxiety for the horse, however, so you'll need to take time to create calm before trying to take the measurement.
If you're unsure about how well your horse will stand for you during the measurement, you may want to have another set of hands helping you. As you're taking the measurement, the other person can get the horse's attention and place pressure as needed to maintain as much stillness as possible.
Many horses like to try grooming you while you're taking the measurement, especially if you've already established a relationship. Be aware of body language signs should this occur to determine if it is being done as a sign of domination. Stop the measurement if it is and then return after addressing the situation.
What About Measuring For Insect and Dress Sheets?
Knowing how to measure a horse for a blanket will allow you to take the measurements needed for your insect and dress sheets as well. You can take the same measurement figures for the blanket and use them to find the sheets you want at your preferred retailer.
Checking Your Blanket Once It Has Been Put On
Once you've properly measured your horse and obtained your preferred blanket, there's a good chance the horse is going to enjoy the attention of receiving some new gear. Not every horse likes to wear a blanket, however, so take your time with the fitting process to make sure everyone stays safe. As this is happening, there are some steps you can take to make sure that the blanket is not causing discomfort for the horse and is fitting properly so you can limit future problems.
For starters, slip your had between the blanket and the withers once it has been placed in its properly position. You should be able to do so easily. If a blanket fits too tightly, then it can cause discomfort for the horse. Extreme tightness can also cause an injury. If you're having trouble slipping your hand in there, try to loosen up the blanket just a little.
Then you'll want to slip your hand underneath the blanket around the shoulder area. You should be able to move your hand at this point very easily. Because there is joint movement underneath the blanket in this area, any tight restrictions will cause rubbing on the horse and that can create skin irritation and sores which may become infected over time.
If those two simple checks look good, then it is time to judge whether or not the horse can graze comfortably while wearing the new accessory. Give the horse a favorite treat at floor level and watch the behavior that is displayed while reaching for it. You're looking for pressure along the front buckles of the blanket as this is happening. If it looks like the buckles are digging into the horse, then this will cause discomfort and discourage eating. Loosen them up just a bit – or tighten them if the blanket looks like it's going to become a horse hoodie.
If your blanket has a tail flap, then you'll need to check if the horse can pass manure without interference. The last thing you need is to have the blanket capture manure and then have it spread along the withers.
As a final step, a well-measured horse blanket should be able to fit without the surcingles being overly tight. Make adjustments as necessary if it appears too loose or too tight.
Why A Blanket Needs To Fit Well On a Horse
Blankets form a protective barrier for a horse against what the outside world has to offer. If the blanket does not fit properly, then this protection is going to be compromised.
If a blanket is too large, then the gaps that are present will invite mud and debris to get underneath the blanket to cause discomfort. Insects can get into large gaps as well. If the blanket is too small, then it won't properly cover the areas of the body that really should be covered, which means you really haven't done as much as possible to protect the horse.
Blankets that don't fit properly can also be dangerous in their own right. If a blanket is too large, then it can slip underneath the belly of the horse and cause a stumble or a fall. When blankets are too tight, then they cause irritation due to the constant rubbing on the skin. At best, a tight blanket creates uncomfortable restrictions.
This is why knowing how to measure a horse for a blanket is so important. It will provide the comfort, safety, and protection that the horse needs every day.
When One Horse Blanket Might Not Be Enough
Over the course of a season, it is not unusual for a horse to begin developing a skin infection. This can happen because of weather conditions, bacterial infections, and several other causes. To help prevent these skin issues from spreading to each horse, it is a good practice to never use a single blanket on multiple horses. Although it seems like an economic benefit to share, the fact is that one skin infection that afflicts every horse costs more than measuring and purchasing a blanket for every horse.
For this reason, each horse should have their own blanket. Not only does this help personalize the experience of caring for the horse, but each horse is also a little different in measurement. What fits one horse extremely well may be a little loose or a little tight on another horse.
It is also a good idea to keep at least one spare blanket on hand for each horse. This way you'll always have something that the horse can wear if the primary blanket gets dirty or has a repair need which must be addressed.
By following these steps, you'll be able to know how to measure a horse for a blanket that they will enjoy for turnouts, general stable wear, and for any other purpose you may have. Get your measurements, get your blanket, and you will have a happy horse.