Mending Horse Blankets


It never ceases to amaze me how many different things you do on a ranch. There is, of course, the usual stuff like feeding animals, collecting eggs and milking the cow. But you often get into some rather odd things as well.

A few weeks back, it was mending horse blankets—one horse blanket, to be more specific. The old mare is too thin to keep up her body heat now that it’s gotten colder, and we don’t want any of those precious calories to be wasted in shivering (which is how animals keep warm). It had been a long time since we needed to blanket a horse for winter, since healthy animals will do fine even in quite low temperatures as long as they have plenty of food and water. But an older animal, and especially a thin older animal, may not do as well.

So we got out the measuring tape—horse blankets, just like people clothes, come in different sizes. You measure a horse from middle of the chest to midpoint between the hind legs, and that gives you the blanket size. Sienna looked to be a size 72, so off we went to buy a nice thick winter blanket. We brought it home, made sure it fit, and relaxed in the secure knowledge that she would be cozy even on cold nights. It was even a good color for the old palomino mare, being a nice deep green. Quite stylish, we thought. Sienna had no comment, beyond twitching an ear when we buckled it on.

The mare and the blanket seemed to be compatible for about a week of cold, windy and wet weather. Then we had a warm spell, so I took the blanket off and hung it on the gate. She had been wet when we put it on, and I wanted to give her a chance to dry, as a wet horse wearing a blanket can rub sore spots or even get a skin infection. Oddly enough, the sight of the blanket hanging on the gate was upsetting to her; she fussed and snorted and spooked at it for most of a day. I didn’t think anything of it—horses often take umbrage at things they’ve seen before. When the weather turned cold again, she didn’t want to wear it, jumping out from under it, rolling her eyes and generally acting like a complete nitwit. Ultimately, the humans prevailed, and she sulkily ate her hay, once more in appropriate cold weather fashion gear.

I suppose I should not have been surprised to go out two days later and find over a dozen rips in the blanket. Now, maybe I do her an injustice—it could be she was just itchy. Or maybe she got in a squabble with her boyfriend, who lives on the other side of the fence. But the location of the tears certainly made it look as though she had deliberately walked up and down next to the fence, snagging herself on the sharp points and trying to shred her fancy new blanket.

So I took it off, hosed it down to get the big chunks of mud off, and ran it through the washing machine. Then I wrestled with it until all the big rips were fixed and the padding inside was no longer leaking out. I put it back on the old mare and congratulated myself on my talents. Two days later it was shredded again.

Stupid old mare—you can just wear a holey blanket.

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