When we noticed that most of the turnout blankets we discussed in our September 2012 field-trial article were still on the market, we decided to let our readers know how the blankets fared during the following winter. After all, our contributors at the SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary, a rescue facility in Montgomery, N.Y., were still using the turnouts on their band of rescue horses.
We were pleased that favorites from last winter continued to perform well, but also learned that there’s something to be said for paying for quality.
Our 2012 top pick was the Eous Phlegon (still $148). It again weathered well, having cleaned up nicely from the previous year. All we noted was a little stretching in the leg straps. It is still an outstanding value.
The Bucas Power Turnout remains virtually indestructible. No major rips or broken hardware. This is important to note because, while the cost is more initially (now around $390), if it holds up over several years, you actually save money in the long run.
While it still held shavings and hair in the fleece lining (cleaning it at year-end was a chore), this little annoyance proved well worth the effort, given the outstanding condition it finished in after the second year (still waterproof!). Bucas is a solid choice for a horse that lives out in harsh weather.
The nice-fitting Ice Turtle blanket ($249-$275) also cleaned up beautifully after the first winter. In this second year, we were even more impressed by its craftsmanship and hardware. With its amazing durability and the option of many different amounts of fill, it’s well worth more money for a high-quality blanket that lasts.
Blankets priced under $200, in general, had more rips, tears, stretching and hardware breakage overall compared to the pricier choices. However, the degree of the damage varied greatly. For the most part, there’s truth to the adage, “You get what you pay for.” In fairness, though, our turnout herd took the trial very seriously and challenged these blankets with rubbing, pulling, chewing and playing. It was a blanket war zone by the end of season two.
Among the budget blankets that defied the odds were:
The Dover NorthWind Turnout (now $189.99) finished year two in good order with only a slight fraying on the tail flap piping (not a concern). Waterproofing remained intact on this 1680 denier blanket.
The blankets from Schneiders Saddlery were also stars in year two, especially the durable 1680d StormShield Vtek Marathon ($169.99 to $189.99, depending on fill) and the 1680d StormShield Euro Extreme ($104.99 to $109.99), our Best Buy from 2012. Although we saw leg strap stretching, these blankets retained their waterproofing well.
Bottom Line. We highly recommend replacing leg straps each season, as they have a tendency to stretch or rip. We also suggest washing blankets with a soap designed for cleaning waterproof and breathable blankets (see January 2012). There’s no faster way to destroy waterproof properties than to wash it in detergent.
If you want to get more than one year out of a blanket, invest in a blanket greater than 1200 denier with stainless hardware. Most of the blankets in our original trial went into year two, and many are ready to go into season 3.
Before you choose a blanket, remember that fit is critical to your selection and must come even before price. We put these blankets only on horses that they fit very well.
There’s a slight jostling of picks here, as after the second year of trials, the Ice Turtle edges into the first-choice position, with the Schneiders StormShield Euro Extreme retaining Best Buy.