Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blanket Review

I have to say from a blanket repair perspective I am not loving this winter at all. Of course I don't like, and especially do not love, winter to begin with but this one is really starting to wear on my nerves. The horses have been in sheets or blankets more this winter than the last two or three winters combined.  Normally I love to stand and watch horses being playful and having a good time. When they are wearing their blankets I am wincing with every bite and grab while thinking "Don't grab the blanket. No, don't grab the blanket!  LET GO OF THE BLANKET!" as they are horsing around.  They rarely never seem to pick up on my thoughts even though I am shouting them in my head.

Thus far this season I have stitched rips and tears in:

1 regular Centaur turnout (not a Turbo 1000)
1 Rhino turnout
2 Big D turnouts
1 SmartPak turnout (I should point out this was not one of the new SmartPak ultimate turnouts)
1 Saxon turnout
1 Weatherbeeta turnout
1 Pessoa turnout

one stitched up Rhino

I actually left this Centaur blanket on the horse while I stitched it. I put a feedbag on Johnny and he stood there and ate while I stitched. I made three more passes after I took this picture in the hopes that my patch job will last until the end of the season. As I was doing this I was trying to decide if I was brilliant or stupid for doing this with the blanket on the horse. It worked so I am going with brilliant although I probably won't choose this repair method again.

One repaired SmartPak blanket; I use a heavy needle and dental floss to do these temporary blanket repairs.

I had to do a small repair to this Big D blanket near the withers

About half the horses here are outfitted with Rambo blankets and the rest with various other brands. I  feel the need to point out that I have not yet had the need to stitch up a tear in a Rambo this season while I am busy sewing away on many other brands. The Rambos are not infallible and they can have their issues as well, it just happens a lot less often. Whenever anyone asks me what blankets I recommend I always say Rambo. Yes I know they are expensive blankets. But they also last, can take a lot of rough horse play, and stay waterproof. We get several years out of the Rambo blankets with no spotty waterproofing.  Sometimes people say they think their horse needs shoulder gussets because they have big shoulders. Buy the Rambo with leg arches, I promise they work better to free up more room than the shoulder gussets. 

Between blankets and sheets I deal with well over 100+ blankets. I watch how they hold up and if the waterproofing lasts. These blankets are being worn in group turnout and some of the horses play hard. The most important criteria I have for a blanket is that it stays waterproof. Hands down the blanket that can stand up to the abuse the best and stay waterproof is the Rambo. My second place choice is the Centaur Turbo 1000 (not the regular Centaur). They are not quite as tough as a Rambo but they are close and they maintain their waterproofing.  I am also a fan of Bucas blankets.

Another thing I have learned to hate about blankets is any blanket that has leg straps instead of a tail strap. Anytime a horse has had an "incident" with a blanket it has always involved a leg strap. I detest blankets with leg straps. In my vast personal collection of blankets (and I am a self proclaimed blanket 'ho) I do not own a blanket with leg straps. Let me reiterate that. I do not own a single blanket with leg straps. After spending years watching horses wear turnout blankets outside in group turnout I will not buy a blanket with leg straps. They are an accident looking for a place to happen. So far, thankfully, I've yet to see a horse truly hurt in a leg strap incident but it is only a matter of time. I may be forced to break my own rule in order to get a blanket for Timbit that actually fits him correctly, and I just cringe at the thought of buying a blanket with leg straps.

There are a few problems with leg straps. They get caught on things more easily than a tail strap. And although tail straps get caught on things as well they also tend to just pop off easily or break whereas the elastic leg straps stretch first and don't break as easily so they tend to stay caught. The leg straps also lose their elasticity. One day the strap is fine and the next day the strap is ten miles long and basically dragging on the ground while still properly snapped at both ends. I have lots and lots of leg straps with  multiple knots tied in them trying to remedy this problem. Unfortunately it simply is not realistic for me to go out and buy 100 or so pairs of leg straps and replace them all each year in the hopes of keeping them from stretching.

If you must (although I wish you would not) buy a blanket with leg straps the Dover Northwinds are my top choice there. These are good, sturdy blankets that hold their waterproofing for a few seasons and can take some rough horse play. My second choice for a blanket with leg straps would be Pessoa blankets. Really my main complaint with either of these blankets are the fact that they have leg straps. 

Big D turnouts take a lot of babying to get them through one season to the next. The denier of the fabric is only 600D so they are constant victims in group turnout. The drop on the saxon blankets is very short, I swear some of them look like mini skirts. The Weatherbeetas seem to lose their waterproofing after a couple of seasons and get their share of rips. Although the Schneiders blankets tend to wear very well the waterproofing on them is the pits. I have had more than one Schneiders blanket not be waterproof right out of the bag. If you do get a Schneiders that is actually waterproof, I have found that the first time you wash it you can say goodbye to some or all of the waterproofing. So none of the Schneiders blankets get washed, they only get cold water rinses.  I am so unimpressed with the waterproofing on Schneiders blankets I have started specifically requesting that people not send them. It is a shame since they are tough blankets, but it doesn't really matter since the waterproofing is so questionable.

I can summarize this post by saying buy the Rambo (or buy the Rhino or Amigo knowing you will need to replace them after a couple of seasons). Feel free to buy a Bucas or a Centaur Turbo 1000 but I would still prefer the Rambo. Just say no to the leg straps. If you cannot help yourself then buy the Dover Northwind or the good Pessoas.  Please do not send a Schneiders.  

In closing, in case I was not clear enough, buy the Rambo, or the Bucas, or the Centaur Turbo 1000.


Johnny and Lighty were having a grand time . . . 

. . . still going at it . . . 

. . . totally ignoring me as I was screaming "don't grab the blanket!!!!"  One Centaur blanket was harmed in the making of this picture. . .  

. . . what is one rip in a blanket when you are having this much fun?

Cocomo, Flyer and Silver

the sunrise had lots of pretty colors again this morning


Timbit and Sparky have become big friends. They play a lot . . . 

. . . Timbit getting ready to fire with the hind leg . . . 

. . . I like Sparky's expression here. He looks like an alpaca

Gibson and Lotus were watching Sparky and Timbit play

neither Baby or Elfin could be bothered to look at me

Dutch and Renny napping in the afternoon sun



lytha said...

this post made me laugh out loud (the ending).

you are certainly most qualified for being our consumer reports for horse blankets, with the amount of horses who play rough at your place.

i personally love the miniskirt look of the saxon, and hate the dress look of the weatherbeeta. your donkey looks pretty cozy in his blanket.

hey, remember the days of new zealand rugs? when those were the best way to keep horses really dry? wow i'm glad we're past that!

with no roughhousing going on here i'm pretty satisfied with the amigo (and HATE the schneiders!) but now i feel this urge to buy a rambo for some reason.

but i'm looking forward to getting through an entire winter without the need to blanket, if possible. so far so good.

Laura said...

Thanks for the info! I'm resisting the urge to go google Rambo blankets! ;-) Luckily my horse is just out with one other and they haven't wrecked each other's blankets yet.

foffmom said...

Thanks for this review, wish I had had it when I was buying blankets. I must say I have several Schneiders, both blankets and rain sheets, and have not had a problem with waterproofing. But I can also say that the fancy sizing options (high withered, V-neck, whatever) really does not prevent shoulder rubs. At least not so far. I have some Rambos as well, and I have to spray them for their water repellent maintenance. And my one Horses in Black blanket I really do not trust to be waterproof anymore.
I appreciate your leg tie comments. What do you think about belly bands? And I would love to hear how you wash that mess O mud. This has been a harder winter than normal here.

EvenSong said...

I must say that the less expensive Amigo version of the Rambo Wug, with the V connector front and the high neck, has been the first one to really fit our old, high-withered Arab boarder, RT, very well. It stays centered on his back and hasn't rubbed either shoulders or withers. It has a tail strap, and for RT that's plenty. The girls, however, needed the leg straps to keep their blankets in place, especially when they were younger (they're more sedate these days). One time Kate managed to get a non-leg strap sheet up over her head, which had disastrous results for the sheet, and cancellation of a competition due to scraped and swollen nose and face (as well as a broken section of fence)! I've got to agree that the elastic straps can be a pain--wasn't it Big D that had adjustable webbing leg straps, though you had to be careful they didn't rub the "tender parts."
In general, I've had no problems with the three Schneiders that boarders have brought in this winter, but some variations I like better than others (snap front instead of buckle, for instance). Cricket managed to pull straps off of two different sheets within a week (a Horze and a Riders International). Luckily the stitching gave out rather than tearing the material, but that doesn't say much for their stitching.
Thanks for the reviews, Melissa.

Anonymous said...


RuckusButt said...

I agree with you 100% on Rambo blankets. They are expensive, sure, but ABSOLUTELY worth every penny, for many reasons. Although in my adult life I've only owned a horse for just over a year, I leased before him and got to learn a lot about blankets. In a nutshell, the amount you save up-front with other brands is not worth the work you put into them both in daily inconvenience (leg straps, buckle front closures) and repairs.

With Brumby, his owner chose the blankets and I learned what not to buy. With Willie, I got him a Weatherbeeta Orican and I have to say that blanket was great. Willie was a terrible instigator and player and therefore destroyed blankets. That Weatherbeeta lasted the whole winter I cared for him with only tiny dime-size holes that were easily fixed. The rips never ran. The waterproofing lasted all season, though I did re-waterproof it myself after the season, so I don't know if it would have been ok after washing or not - I didn't take the chance as it was Armani's first heavy winter blanket.

I have a full Rambo lineup for Armani: rainsheet, medium turnout (200g), and heavy (370g). He's in group turnout and they have all been impeccable (exception, see below). My stable blanket is Amigo and it's great too. The design details on Rambo turnouts are so convenient, from the quick and sturdy front snaps to the *tail strap* instead of leg straps. They are also tough as nails.

But what I really want to say is that Horseware Ireland (the makers of Rambo) have amazing customer service. My 200g Rambo Wug started developing rips in the lining. The outside was fine, but the lining was full of tears. None of my other Rambos have done this. So I emailed them simply to tell them - I asked for nothing. It just wasn't what I came to expect from their products and I told them so (very nicely). After some simple back and forth, including sending some pictures, they sent me a replacement blanket for free. It was clear there was something wrong with that particular lot and they were great about it.

Off my soapbox now :)

Semi Feral Equestrian said...

Interesting reviews!

I don't have so many blankets as you (but my husband would still say too many...I think it's Centaur, Baker, and Schneiders for right now.

The Centaur is on its third season with some rough horses. Dang young geldings not being able to keep their mouths to themselves!

I haven't had issues with either of the Schneiders. Unfortunatley, I haven't found anything from Dover/Rambo to fit the Arabs. Bad shoulder rub issues. I have only tried one Bucas, but that seemed super narrow for that fat shoulder, fat barreled but short little Arab mare. I have a Pessoa, but bad me, I haven't tried it on yet...

But I will agree that I have seen some Schneiders with waterproof issues. I have been lucky!

An American in Tokyo said...

If I ever own a horse, I will buy him/her a Rambo!

The photos of Timbit and Sparky are too cute!

Horse Stall Mats said...

I`ve read so many articles about blankets I could scream. the average tells me no blankets for heavy coated horse blankets because it flattens the part that insulates. I do put them in when windy or wet. But NO blankets.Lots of hay and water . I`m not sure if it`s right.