Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Blanketing is a beastly business

When we started turning Riley out in an adult herd, the words "career-ending injury" kept reverberating in my mind. My barn manager suggested blanketing him for protection against nips and kicks he'd get in the new social order. Forget warmth -- I got him blankets for cushioning, and we sent him out to be with the big boys.

Here you see Riley in his first winter blanket, a brand new Pessoa Alpine medium weight size 72. Actually at the time I took this picture, it was Day 3 of the new blanket. I mention this because like all of Riley's outerwear, this blanket's days were numbered. About 3 weeks after I took this photo, Riley came in from the pasture sans blanket. The barn workers found the blanket lying on ground in a heap. The front snaps were broken off, but the belly and leg straps still normally attached, so he must have wiggled out of it somehow. The blanket itself had been disemboweled. The top fabric was torn lengthwise from shoulder to haunch, then down one side to form a flap. The poly stuffing was exposed.

Blanket #2, a Weathabeeta Orican midweight, lasted the longest of any of the others--over a month if you include the week that it was duct-taped together. When damp weather compromised the duct tape, that blanket was, in the words of the barn worker who phoned me up, "pretty much done."

Blanket #3 was a Weathabeeta Saxon that I'd won on ebay. After Blanket #2 had fought the good fight, I pulled out my last chance blanket. Fastening Riley into #3, I joked to a friend that I feared it was marked for death. This kind of observation is known as foreshadowing. The Saxon lasted only one weekend. A barn worker saw a pasture-mate, *Romeo (pictured lower right), biting on a small tear near the shoulder. When I got to the barn Monday night, I found Riley in a blanket that was ripped across the back in such a way that the fabric and stuffing drooped in the middle, forming a swag across his belly.

Naughty Romeo! Or maybe naughty Riley? The pasture dynamics are unclear. Riley natters at his herdmates until they are compelled to torment him back, in a harmless game of blanket-tag gone horribly wrong. One more time, I re-learn the lesson that with horses, well-meaning interference will bite you in the butt. Less is more. So Riley is blanketless for the time being, and he seems to be doing fine.

*Romeo is one of my favorite horses in the barn. He's an off the track TB with a lifetime earnings of close to a million dollars, and he went on to do well in the hunter ring. He had a rough go of it under a few irresponsible owners, but now he is getting the life he deserves. His adoring owner Sue is pictured too.


  1. I thought there was one blanket out there that guaranteed that the horse could not destory it. Now if I could only think of the manufacturer...

  2. I hope you don't mean the Taka blanket. My TB made short work of that one. Jeffers has a canvas blanet that I've heard is indestructible, and I bought it. But it is not waterproof, and i can only use it in super-cold weather.


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