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? As an enthusiast of all products equine, I LOVE trying out new gear. Please join me as I narrate my personal journey of trying out all of the products featured. While I will make no recommendations, I hope you have fun reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences helps you on your own quest for new gear. Go Shopping.
When the temperatures drop, I bundle up as I fight the seemingly endless battle to stay warm. And this winter season, my outerwear has certainly been earning it’s keep. Taking into consideration the varying temperatures and forms of precipitation falling from the sky here in Pennsylvania, I must rise to the challenge of selecting appropriate outerwear for the conditions of each day.
And the conditions seem to change on mother nature’s whim. Every. Single. Day. We can see days that dip slightly down below zero degrees, with a wind chill that takes the feeling of the air down into the negative 20s. And several days later, we might get a particularly balmy day in the 30s or 40s — you just never really know what the next week (or even next day) will bring.
Which is why I try to pick out the most sensible and functional pieces of outerwear for my own wardrobe. Personally, I bright colors and flattering styles – sure, they can make for a super fashionable jacket, coat, vest…you name it.
But when it comes to outerwear, fashion without function is like…I don’t know, like wearing paddock boots with no half chaps. Like a ordering a yummy cheeseburger without fries. Or like tailgating while sitting in a parking lot listening to the concert going on.
You get the idea — winter outerwear must be able to stand up against cold temperatures AND wet conditions. Because unless they are, those particular pieces are of no use to me. After all, it doesn’t matter how fabulous a jacket looks if you can’t pull it on to stay warm and dry when gong out into the snow and cold.
I keep the same mentality when going blanket shopping for my horses. A good turnout blanket must be functional, durable and keep my horses dry and comfortable while they are out and about in the various weather conditions of winter. That is quite simply, is non-negotiable. An absolute, if you will.
Searching for a blanket can be a bit overwhelming at times, because there are so many decisions to make. What style should I buy? Do I need a neck cover? How much fill should my new blanket have. Does the cut of the blanket really make that much of a difference? And what about the denier — is it really that important? And I haven’t even mentioned colors. Like I said…overwhelming.
With all of those questions swirling around in my head, it is enough to make my brain hurt. There are quite a few number of blanket brands that I’ve been familiar with, but this winter season, I was really excited to learn all about Big D brand blankets. While the brand has a reputation for offering quality stable blankets, their turnout blankets include a number of features to keep horses comfortable living out in winter conditions.
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to try out the Big D Magnum Heavy Turnout Blanket on my young gelding Rufus. Firstly (and this is very important), when selecting a blanket, you must make sure that you get the sizing correct. With Big D Blankets, you should start measuring at the center of your horse’s chest, go around the widest part of the shoulder, and around the hip to end your measurement at the edge of the tail (where the rump meets the tail).
After making sure to measure Roo, I was surprised to find that I was going to wear a blanket that was a size too large on him — properly fitted blankets are important, because a ‘too loose’ blanket can cause rubs just as a ‘too tight’ one can. When the Magnum blanket arrived, it did so in a handy plastic (which I’m saving to use for storage), and the packaging was also informative, as it highlighted the blanket’s features.
When I pulled the Magnum Turnout Blanket out of it’s packaging, I was struck by how durable the fabric of the blanket felt. I had the opportunity to see and touch the blanket first hand at the AETA tradeshow back in January, but it was a great feeling to be standing in Roo’s stall, ready to throw the blanket over him.
The Magnum Turnout features a 2100 denier rip-stop outer shell, which feels very tough. During my conversations to become more educated on the features of a Big D blanket, I learned a big about their denier ratings. If you look very closely at the fabric, there appears to be a pattern of ‘squares’. Many blankets have a rip stop pattern over their outer shell – be it in a square pattern, a honeycomb pattern, etc.
The denier rating of a turnout blanket can be represented by the strength of the rip-stop pattern (which typically has a stronger rating than the rest of the shell. However, Big D uses the strength of the base part of the turnout shell instead of the rip-stop to rate the strength of their blankets. The 2100 denier rating of the Magnum represents the strength of the base fabric, not including the extra strong rip-stop pattern.
The Magnum Turnout also offers the benefit of heat sealed seams (that are not just folded over) that are double sewed. This helps their durability and prevent ripping (which considering the number of blankets that I’ve had with ripped trim, makes me a happy horse owner). The rear darts of the blanket are also sewn down over the hips, and the stress points are double sewn as well.
To help protect hind quarters against wind, the Magnum Turnout has a longer drop near the back of the blanket. Also, the tail flap has a pretty unique self-closing design to it. If you look at it from behind, the seams allow it to unfold and open up for freedom of movement, or fold in for additional protection. The tail flap seam is also heat sealed and double sewed to keep it secure.
To combat the cold temperatures, the Magnum Turnout includes 300 grams of fiber for warmth. The blanket also includes a fitted shoulder gusset, which is designed to fit the horse – exclusive to Big D blankets. The smooth inside seams also have no ‘lumps or bumps’, so they won’t rub shoulders. And the lining is a 210 denier show coat lining, which keeps coats looking nice and smooth.
Looking to the front of the Magnum Turnout, Velcro couple with a double buckle front keeps the blanket closed without sagging. The buckles on the front of the blanket are also very attractive, as they include Big D logos on them. Two belly surcingle straps, along with two removable elastic rear hind leg straps help keep the blanket in place. And, there is also fleece at the withers, to help prevent rubbing.
When I first threw the Magnum Turnout Blanket on Roo, I found that it was easy to fit to him and get the straps adjusted just so. And when I stood back to look at him, I just stopped. And looked. Because the result was just stunning. While the Magnum is a simple black color, jazzed up with a red and gold colored trim — I think the fit is what made it look oh-so fantastic on him.
Roo is a fairly large sized Warmblood cross — and he has a big set of shoulders on him, while being rather short coupled. And the Magnum Turnout fits him really (really) nicely. The shoulders are well fitted to his frame, and the blanket is loosely fitted along the back, to allow for air to circulate (and prevent overheating while moving around during turnout).
The longer drop in the rear of the blanket does a good job of keeping his hind end well covered. And I do like how sturdy the hardware of all of the different straps feels as well. The tail flap, while interesting, is also very functional — it is neat to see it in action, when it folds open to accommodate movement, and again when it automatically folds in if Roo stops and stands.
Even after Roo is out running, rearing, bucking and flailing all about in his blanket, I also love to see that it stays nicely in place on him. No adjustments are needed, because it does not slip or slide to one side, in spite of how active he is. And through all of the playing and blanket grabbing with his ‘big brother’ Mark – the Magnum blanket has held up well, without any rips to the shell or seams.
One of the most shocking things to me are the price points of Big D Blankets — for all of the features included, and the quality of the design and materials used, I am pleasantly surprised. You can bring home the Magnum Heavy Turnout Blanket for a price of $199.95. Under $200 for a blanket that fits oh-so nicely and has been very durable? Yes, please!
You can find the Big D Magnum Heavy Turnout blanket here. And, looking ahead to the Spring season, the Magnum is also available as a Turnout Sheet as well. The Turnout Sheet version also has a very agreeable price point, selling for $119.95, and you can find it here.
Go Affordable & Durable Blankets that FIT. Go Big D. Go Eventing.