Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping … especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? While browsing for gear is fun, sometimes it’s just overwhelming to search through all of the products that are available for you and your horse. Companies featured in my posts have very generously provided me with their products, so that I may try them out and share my own experiences with all of you! Of course, every horse and rider is a unique individual, so each product may perform differently for you and your horse then it does for me—after all, different things work for different people (and horses!), and that is all part of the variety of life! This column is meant only for me to recount my personal journey, and share my own and my horse’s experiences with all of the exciting products featured. While I make no recommendations, I hope that you have fun and find entertainment while reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences might help give you factors to consider when you are on your own quest for new gear!
Most of us have had one of those horses at some point during our lives–you know, the ones for who just can’t fit normal horse “off the rack” sizes. Maybe their body just has an odd shape. They might have narrow shoulders, be extra long in the body, or just be really, really tall. My 7 year old Dutch Warmblood / Thoroughbred cross gelding, Mark, fits all of the above descriptors. At 17.3 hands, he is just plain huge. Really huge. Not to be confused with the 17.3 hand horse that you see advertised that is really 16.3 hands when you show up to look at it. Along with being tall, Mark has a really deep, sloping shoulder, narrow chest, and is very long in the body. While in my completely biased and partial opinion, he is quite handsome, he is also a total pain in the butt to blanket. Since I purchased Mark as a weanling, I’ve seen him through years of blankets. Over time, we have kept switching, and have tried most of the major blanket brands; while most are durable and fit my other horses well, Mark has always been an issue. Actually, he tends to have multiple issues with blanket fit. Mostly, blankets tend to 1) fit his shoulders snugly and cause rub marks, 2) slip in the hind end and hang partially down on one side, and/or 3) look really REALLY short on him (picture the men’s basketball short-shorts from the 70s–I know, I totally didn’t want that picture in my head either!).
When I heard that Kensington Protective Products offers a collection of horse blankets, I was a little surprised. I’ve been familiar with the brand for a few years now, as I use Kensington Protective sheets on all three of my horses during the Summer season (as fly sheets). Earlier this year when I attended the American Equestrian Trade Association’s (AETA) trade show, I was very excited when I had the chance to see Kensington’s Platinum Collection of blankets up close and in person, and learn about their features. The Platinum collection of blankets are made out of 1680 Denier Ballistic Nylon, which makes them extra tough–and the shell is coated with Lami-cell and Teflon in order to be completely wind and water proof, while being fade and stain resistant at the same time. Another interesting feature is the CoolPlus lining system of the blanket, which helps to wick moisture away from your horse. But perhaps the thing that really caught my attention was the SureFit design that the Platinum Collection of blankets boasts. SureFit is Kensington’s very own design, which has been made to fit a wider variety of horses, from more narrow to wider builds. After hearing about the SureFit design, I immediately thought of Mark, with his large and gangly body and ill-fitting collection of blankets.
Blankets in the Platinum Collection are available in both a Standard Neck, as well as a Euro Cut (which comes partially up the neck, for extra coverage), in weights of heavy (300g of fill), medium (180g of fill), lite (80g of fill), and rain sheets (no fill). Standard neck blankets also are designed so that you can purchase a matching neck cover. I opted to try out a Standard Neck blanket in a heavy weight, as we’ve had such a brutal Winter season here in Pennsylvania – between Polar Vortexes and snow that never seems to stop, I think my horses pretty much lived in their heavy weight blankets. Mark takes a size 87 blanket, and I think it is important to point out that Kensington does offer this size; it is the largest size that is still considered to be a standard horse size, but sometimes it is hard to find. The blanket was quite lovely when I pulled it out of the bag that it came in; I tried the teal color on Mark, and it was very vibrant out of the package. The blanket itself had a durable feel to it when I picked it up.
Fitting the blanket on Mark went like a dream. After I threw the blanket up and over him, I was able to use the Velcro and 2 convenient snap clips to close the front (the snaps have a pull tab on one end, so that they are adjustable). I also really like the “stable blanket” style of the 2 belly straps–they come further up the side to clip. And did I mention that you can clip or or unclip the snaps on either side of the horse (and not just the left side)? Talk about convenient when you are trying to blanket while you horse parks themselves against their stall wall! There are also two hind leg straps. All of the hardware felt durable to me, and did I forget to mention that the blanket comes with a detachable belly guard and tail flap? I appreciated having the belly guard, since Mark was turned out in snow quite a bit (and since he likes to get down and roll about 5 times when he first comes out in it). The part that really impressed me the most was that with the SureFit design, the blanket seemed to come down and around Mark’s shoulders to “hug” his chest. Just “hug” it. Not hang tightly across it and rub. The length of the blanket could have stood to be a little bit longer–but remember, Mark is extra tall–and the blanket was long enough to cover his body, and did look nice. Really nice, in fact, because the teal color looks amazing with a dark bay horse!
Any blanket at my barn gets a workout – I’ve got 2 young horses (Mark included) that like to grab, rip, tug, pull, shake, and generally put their mouths all over blankets. Especially new ones. Cue Mark’s younger “brother”, Rufus – he is only 4 and is extremely mouthy. So he makes no bones about taking a new blanket as a challenge. Can he rip it? I always dread turning someone loose with a new blanket, because I don’t want Roo to have a chance to try to shred it. And try he did, with Mark’s SureFit blanket. And try. And try. And try some more. He is quite the persistent little bugger–he’ll need that attitude for cross country, I suppose! The most that he was able to accomplish was to pull the tail flap off after quite the tug of war battle. No harm or foul though–it was perfectly fine, and I simply chose to remove the tail flap during turn out after that happened. Even though Rufus tried his darn-dest by pulling and tugging on other parts of the blanket, no rips appeared in the shell, or trim since I started wearing the blanket on Mark.
Another thing that I noticed was that the blanket would only shift slightly on Mark while he was turned out (even after he got down and rolled–repeatedly). It stayed in place very well in my opinion, and does not slide around like his other ones do at all. I wore the blanket on Mark for well over a month, during the very coldest temperatures here (going down to 0 degrees), and he always felt nice and toasty when I put my hand under it. And the most important part? IT FIT and left NO RUBS on his chest or shoulders. In fact, with our cold snap and snow that we’ve just had now at the end of March, I’m still wearing the heavy weight on him, for now. I am also very excited at the other weights that are offered, and the fact that I can get a rain sheet with the same great fit and features to wear during our muddy Spring season that is just starting.
I’m not sure who is more thrilled–Mark, because he is such a diva and likes to feel special in a flashy new blanket with a belly guard, or me, because said flashy new blanket actually fits Mark and doesn’t leave ugly shoulder or chest rubs. I’m just excited that I’ve found a blanket for hard to fit horses, because that describes Mark; practically every single thing that I buy for him is a challenge with his size, but at least now I can feel confident that I have a blanket that won’t rub his hair off. Mark’s Kensington Platinum Collection blanket fits him, holds up against Rufus trying his hardest to shred it, AND it looks pretty rocking awesome at the same time. I count that as a major win in my book.
Take a look at a video from Kensington, to see some the Platinum Collection blankets in action!
Go hard-to-fit horses (we love ’em anyway). Go Kensington. Go Eventing.