It’s finally here … fall. Unfortunately our falls here in the South are brief, so if you aren’t already preparing for winter – now is the time to do so! One of the biggest winter tasks for equestrians is blanketing. Blankets are not only a hassle day to day, they’re expensive, and it seems like something is always wrong with them. Today, I’m sharing how I avoid all of those problems with Smartpak Ultimate blankets.
Before we even start, first determine if your horse even needs a blanket. Think hard. Horses in the wild do not get blankets … and they survive. They survive just fine. Unless your horse is body clipped, doesn’t grow adequate coat, your winter temps are below 20 degrees majority of the time, you have an elderly horse, or you winters are mostly wet – I do not recommend blanketing your horse.
Humans often tend to over baby our animals, and studies show that it’s actually detrimental to them. My golden rule of blanketing thumb …. it’s always better for them to be a bit too cold than a bit too warm. In the winter, horses have the ability to warm themselves up in many ways, but no ability to cool themselves off when they have three blankets strapped to their bodies.
Okay, so you’ve come to the conclusion that your horse does indeed need a blanket. You go online, and the options are endless. You see really cheap blankets, really expensive blankets, all KINDS of blankets. After trying everything and wasting a lot of money …. I have an insider secret for you – Smartpak Ultimate blankets.
Smartpak Ultimates are …
- Fairly Priced. The models I’m going to share today cost between $160 and $320.
- They fit almost everything. The standard blankets are great for thoroughbreds and warmbloods, and the “Rockin SP” style is perfect for Quarter Horses and drafty built horses.
- Easy on and off. The sturdy Velcro and clasp closures make blanketing a breeze.
- They last. I can typically go an entire winter without needing to replace or repair my blankets. West lives out 24/7 and is tough on his blankets, and they still last. They usually rip here and there – but nothing major. A+ for durability.
- The Warranty. Smarpak Ultimate (Ultimates only!!) have a TEN YEAR warranty. Your horse rips his sheet? Contact Smartpak, they will send you a prepaid shipping label, you send your sheet back, and you have a new one out to you ASAP. Essentially what this means is that you only have to buy blankets once every ten years, while getting a brand new set each season. I usually send blankets in in May, and get brand new ones for the next winter. You can NOT beat that.
My most favorite …. Smartpak Ultimate Turnout Blanket with the Smartpak Ultimate Neck Rug. Depending on weight and fill, the pair can run you up to $320. I prefer my horse to always have a neck, but the blanket is still great even if you don’t need the neck.
Every year I get three of these. One sheet, one medium, and one heavy. Although the other options I will talk about are easier to layer, I layer this one as well. Not the easiest, but it can be done!
The reason that I rank this blanket as my favorite, is because this is one of the only blankets to not give West blanket rubs. The neck is not sewn into the blanket, and I find that it moves with the horse easier, and does not bother the mane.
Pro Tip – if your horse is body clipped, make SURE you purchase the neck attachment. If not, the uncovered hair on the neck will grow out faster than the covered hair on the body. That ain’t cute.
Number two on the list … Smartpak Ultimate Combo Blanket. On the cheaper side, this blanket at the heaviest fill, will run you $230. I thought the blanket game had CHANGED when I got this blanket in for the first time. I was convinced that I would never use another blanket ever again, until this rubbed all of West’s mane out.
Do not fear though! That is 100% because of West’s conformation. If you know him, you know that his neck comes out of his back at a 90 degree angle, making this a prime rubbing situation. If you have a horse that carries their neck more parallel to their body and to the ground – this is the blanket for you.
Your barn owners and staff will love you. Because it is all in one, put on/take off is a breeze. This is also (in my opinion) the best and safest blanket for layering. No extra pieces to get tangled or caught. If West wasn’t a real life giraffe – I wouldn’t put him in anything BUT this blanket!
Last, but not least on the list is the Smartpak Ultimate High Neck Blanket! This is a great blanket for a horse who isn’t clipped and might just need a bit of extra warmth on the chilly nights. It’s also a great option for a rain sheet!
At the heaviest fill, this blanket costs $220, making it the cheapest option.
I have this blanket in the sheet, and use it as a rain sheet on West. I also use this in the horse trailer in the winter. I don’t particularly like trailering horses while wearing blankets, but if I have to – this is what I use, because it’s low profile, and there isn’t anything extra to get snagged.
Again, this is another one that isn’t ideal for giraffe horses, but short term use ( like my situation – using it as a rain sheet or in the horse trailer ) is totally fine! This is a great “extra” blanket to keep in the barn or trailer in case of emergency! This one is great to layer!
Whichever blanket you decide is right for you and your horse – you’re sure to love it, and you’ll love the Smartpak 10 Year Warranty even more! Just remember, Smartpak’s only warrantied blankets are the ULTIMATE collection!