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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label blankets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blankets. Show all posts

December 14, 2013

This Is How We Roll: Turnout Blankets, Part Deux (Or Trois? Quatre?)

In case you need someone to state the obvious, it's winter.  Cold, wet, dark winter.  Unless you live in Florida.  Or the US SW.  Or the southern hemisphere.  Or...well, I don't care, it's winter here!

This leads to cold, wet ponies and our need to muddle through the excessive array of horse clothes and, with little empirical data, figure out if there is any reason we actually need to spend $400 on a freaking sheet of nylon that will be rubbed into a pile of horseshit, urine, and wet clay.

I've talked about turnouts a time or two in the past:  (1) The original November 2011 review of the Weatherbeeta Landa midweight turnout, the Rider's International rain sheet, and the beautiful ears-to-tail midweight rug from  (2)  My stupid self-jinx wherein one month later Solo destroys his own blanket after 5 years of faithful service.  (3)  The April 2013 review of SmartPak's 10-year Ballistic Nylon sheet, wherein they actually do honour that guarantee! 

Lessons learned:  A 600D turnout is just fine if your horse is (a) by himself, (b) top dog, or (c) in a generally placid group that don't bite each other and don't seek out pointy things.

Also, if you DO need to fix some things, I just handsew the tears, then seal with this waterproof seam glue and, if needed or in too much of a hurry to sew, slap on a Stormshield patch.  Yes, they work!  Thank you, SSTack!

So what's on the runway this winter?  Well, things are a little simpler now that the boys are separated, thanks to Solo's decision to use Encore as his personal chew toy and getting a little bit carried away (I can't tighten a girth over raw, chewed-up skin, that's just not very nice).

Rainsheets:  Encore is shedding the wet in his second SmartPak "indestructible" sheet.  Sooo, they are not quite indestructible, and this one has a very small hole now, but the important part is that they ARE pretty tough and, even more important, SmartPak DOES back up their product.

Not Solo.  His is purple.  With green trim.  Oh yeah.
Solo is still wearing his McAlister 600D sheet.  They both had these at the beginning of last winter, I believe I got them on sale at Horseloverz, but Solo, naturally, ate Encore's.  His own is still 95% intact; the only flaw is that his big QH chest combined with cheap metal on the chest clips equaled the top clip separating from its base on the upper chest strap.  I just flipped it around so the clip goes through both the metal loop and the hole in the chest strap.  It works the same, and all the rest of the hardware is fine, so I reckon it's doing well and it still keeps the wind off and he is dry.  Not sure that brand even exists anymore, looks like Horze has moved into that price point.  

Insulated blankets:  In the aftermath of Solo's nylon-ivorous (?) rampage, I found a couple of 1200D Centaur blankets on steep sale and decided to try a new brand.  Given their low price, I've been pleasantly surprised!!

Obviously not Solo. Duh. But that plaid!
Solo has the mid-weight; nice nylon lining, evenly-distributed insulation, totally waterproof and breathable, nice, durable leg strap snaps.  The only thing missing is chest snaps, but it does have velcro and buckling straps won't kill me, I don't have to blanket 10 horses.  Naturally, in a sale, you don't really get to pick colours, so he rocks the blue and brown plaid (at least it's nicer in person).

Since Encore has been in work, usually has a higher clip, and burns calories when he blinks, he got the heavy-weight, high neck version.  I like it just as much as Solo's.  The only colour option was black (you get even fewer choices at 81"), so he looks a bit ninja, but he really seems grateful when I put it on and it has helped a lot in my constant efforts to hold his weight.  The high neck even gives His Wussiness an extra draft collar.

Encore's high neck version.  On not-Encore.
Both the Centaurs have a nice, weighty, well-made feel for them, neither have rubbed, shifted, broken, or torn and they've kept my boys protected on these 25 degree, breezy nights this week.  They don't get too sweaty if the sun comes out during the day (I can't always be there to pull blankets), so I don't have to worry about gross overheating thanks to good breathability.

I did pick up one extra in case Encore's Centaur didn't make it, as Solo did manage to rip it once before they were separated; during one of SmartPak's clearance events (I always blanket shop in June/July).  I got one of their super nice insulated blankets for something ridiculous like $60, but I'm saving it for backup, so it's nice and clean in storage.  I also still have his older (multi-repaired, but still functional) EquestrianClearance mega-warm blankie just in case too.  Hey, spares are important!

Fingers crossed, but so far, things are looking warm and uneventful in the horse clothes category this winter!

April 11, 2013

Please Raise Your Hand...

...if you have ever been able to steadily train your horse, then go to an event, without spending the time preceeding it frantically trying to get horse in proper working order and spending sleepless nights wondering if you'll have to scratch...again.

I'm curious if this ever actually happens to people.

Encore did get his back injected and is easing back into work, but is still having some issues, so Dr. Bob shall be stalked once more in search of Now What, Part 893.

Field season has started at work, so my own sleep and time deprivation begins, rendering me nonexistent from now till, oh, November.

It's not all bad -- since Solo had annointed himself Devourer of Equine Apparel, I had purchased SmartPak's Ballistic Turnout Sheet, complete with 10-year guarantee of structural integrity, about mid-winter.  Then I sat back and watched.

It held up surprisingly well to varied attacks, no doubt leaving the biter quite frustrated at his failure.  However, he did prevail and Encore greeted me one morning with a custom air vent added to his attire.

True to SmartPak awesomeness though, I called them up and sent the victim back, at which point they promptly sent me Sheet 2.  The weather has warmed quickly, so it hasn't seen much action, BUT the fact remains that the agreement was honoured and awesomeness maintained.

Solo, of course, is completely content in his immaculate McAllister 600D sheet I purchased at a ridiculously low price on Tack of the Day (and quite like!).  It's easy when you are not the bitee.

November 23, 2011

This Is How We Roll: Turnout Blankets

It's getting chilly at night (although not this week!) and the stall doors are adorned with blankets, sheets, and coolers to keep the horses from shivering off that perfect weight we finally got them to this summer.  So what do the Flying Solo boys strut around in?

Encore is trying a new look this year; he has a full length turnout rug from the friendly folks at  I had not tried this type or brand of blanket before, but so far, I am thrilled with it.  Fresh out of the box, it was a lovely navy blue (yay!) with yellow piping.  I loved the generous drape of the leg and tail flaps and the easy-open snaps on the chest.  The 81" fit Encore surprisingly well (is he really that big?) and even better now that he has gained some weight; the only part I had to adjust were the belly straps, which were much too long for him, but it was easily solved by knotting them in the middle and voila!  Fit.  No rubs thus far, it has a smooth nylon lining that makes Encore's coat shine.  I got the medium-weight and it is SUPER MEGA WARM.  I'm not sure what the insulation is, but it's wonderful stuff and much less bulky or heavy than my other medium-weight.  Obviously, it is colder in England than it is in North Carolina!  (Duh.)

Check out the butt billboard!
   I wondered how durable a 600 dernier blanket could be, but pasture-buddy, Pete the Arabian/Monkey cross decided to test it for me.  On the second day I had the blanket (grrrr), it was sitting in the grass outside the pasture, waiting to be applied to Encore.  Pete decided he was bored and snaked his little nose through the fence and dragged the blanket into the pasture, because it apparently looked like an Entertaining Plaything.  He proceeded to do a tapdance on top of it until his whims were satisfied, at which point he wandered off to find something else to destroy play with.  I found the blanket in a dirty, trampled heap and moaned in dismay.  I had it ONE DAY, Pete, ONE DAY!  But I picked it up, brushed it off, and stared in disbelief -- not a scratch on it.  No tears, no bent hardware, it was completely fine.  So rest assured, when your horse is wearing this blanket, he will be completely protected from tapdancing Arabians!  I'm very happy with it and I hope that Encore will get to wear it for many more years!  It's also very affordable -- if I used my currency converter right, 50 GBP equals US$77.  Even with shipping to the US, you are still getting a good deal on a super toasty turnout!

Solo may not be decked out in snazzy imports, but he still stays warm.  He wears a Weatherbeeta Landa medium weight turnout.  This is the first blanket I ever bought for him, in a second-chance auction on eBay, and I believe this is at least the fourth winter he has worn it, if not the fifth.  Mr. Chunky wears the 78" and it has a nice length to its drape as well.  Also nylon-lined with a shoulder gusset, it has never once rubbed his big shoulders.  I have had to replace the leg straps once, the cheap snaps on the back froze up on me and broke, but it was an easy fix.  I've sewed up a hole or two in the lining over the years -- it once got run over by a tractor (sans Solo, thankfully) and some of the stress points have stretched and worn, but nothing a quick stitch-up couldn't mend, so it's still going.  The outside is impeccable -- all of the stitching is still tight and it has never ripped.  I have had it cleaned and re-waterproofed one time (yeah, I'm cheap) and it remains waterproof and breathable.

The boys share a rain sheet, which is one I bought secondhand from a friend about two and a half years ago.  It's a very simple Rider's International turnout sheet from Dover.  I didn't pay a lot for it, but I have been very impressed with it; the horses stay dry and it's a great windbreaker.  No sexy horse modeling pics of this one, sorry.  It's mesh lined with nylon at the shoulders so it doesn't rub either.  No rips on the outside of this one, although I have plied my impeccable seamstress skills to the inside a time or two.  I would guess it's about four years old at this point, but doesn't show any signs of stopping soon.

We have other dashingly fashionable items of horse attire, naturally, but I'm not about to admit in one post how many.  But that is the extent of our turnout wardrobe and I can happily give a confident thumbs up to all three! 

March 19, 2010

How To Blanket A Horse

I bet you thought you knew how to perform this simple skill, didn't you? Well, around our place, some technique modification is required.

1. Enter pasture with blanket wadded under one arm so you can open the gate with the other.
2. Unwind blanket straps from around legs as horses trot up to investigate whether mysterious bundle under your arm is stuffed with carrots.
3. Place blanket on Jeff's (Solo's pasture mate who is body clipped, hence the blanket) back.
4. Remove Solo's nose from Jeff's back so you can smooth out blanket before beginning to attach straps.
5. Buckle chest straps.
6. Remove Solo's nose from your back pocket so you can walk around to do leg straps.
7. Fasten Jeff's leg strap on near side.
8. Remove Solo's nose from underneath Jeff's blanket on off side so you can also fasten that leg strap.
9. Remove Solo's nose from your shoulder so you can walk back around to Jeff's near side to fasten belly straps.
10. Fasten front belly strap.
11. Remove Solo's nose from your side pocket so you can fasten rear belly strap.
12. Pat Jeff on the bum so he knows he is free to go.
13. Extricate Solo from your lap so you can open pasture gate and exit.