Blanket zap from static electricity is a minor annoyance to some horses and a source of horror to others. This is a very individual reaction. The same blanket will be fine on one horse, while another may be zapped from it so badly that he’ll suddenly fly backward, becoming a serious danger to himself and anyone around him.
Dry winter air, especially after a snowfall, sets up conditions where static electricity is conducted more easily on your horse, abetted by a long winter coat and synthetic blanket materials.
To stop the zap, first and foremost, clip or reclip your horse. If that doesn’t do the trick, or your particular circumstances make clipping impractical, try the following:
• Switch your blankets and cooler to natural fibers, trying cotton before wool. Set aside anything that is synthetic fleece. Experiment (carefully) with the blankets you have that are made with several layers of different materials to see if they set off a charge. Turn first to any blankets where the layer next to the skin is cotton. Or take your summer cotton sheet and put it on the horse first, then place the winter blanket(s) on over the sheet. This also keeps both horse and blankets cleaner because you can launder the under sheet regularly (using a non-static rinse) and may not need to clean the blankets until spring.
• Spray your horse daily with a coat polish that helps reduce static (we like Show Sheen) before replacing his blankets.
• Daily spread the blankets on the ground separately. Spray the surfaces that will touch each other with an anti-static product. DO NOT do this while they are piled on top of each other by spraying between the layers. This can set off a charge between the layers. Certainly don’t do it while the blankets are on the horse!
•Keep a bottle of hand lotion or baby oil nearby. Anyone who removes blankets should rub lotion on their hands first.
• Try lifting the blankets off the horse’s back with one hand instead of two, which may interrupt the electrical circuit. Stand on a stool if necessary.