Field Guide to Horse Blanket Fabrics

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When selecting a blanket for your horse, you may encounter some unfamiliar textile terms. Liz Russell, corporate communications specialist for Dover Saddlery, offers the following glossary of blanket fabric terminology.

Defining Deniers
When you’re selecting outerwear for your horse, one of your first concerns may be the strength of the fabric. This is usually indicated in deniers. Denier simply refers to the thickness of the threads used to make the nylon fabric in the outer layer of the blanket, and it provides an indication of how durable the blanket will ultimately be. The higher the denier of the blanket, the heavier the fabric, and the stronger, more wind resistant and more water resistant the fabric is. Therefore, a 1200-denier blanket is typically more durable than a 420 denier blanket.

Ripstop
Ripstop nylon refers to a high denier fabric that is woven in a crosshatch pattern. In the unlikely event a tear occurs, the small squares prevent the hole from spreading and limit the damage to the blanket.

Ballistic
Ballistic nylon is a thick and very tough synthetic fabric. It was originally designed for use in military jackets to protect the wearer from shell fragments and flying debris.

Water Resistant vs. Waterproof
Water resistant and waterproof are two additional blanket features. Water resistant blankets and sheets provide some protection from moisture, but are not designed to repel water to protect the horse fully when it is exposed to downpours, snow or sleet for prolonged periods. Waterproof means that the blanket fabric has been treated to repel water.

Breathable
Most blankets and sheets are made of breathable fabrics to allow body heat to escape. Breathability is different from moisture-wicking, where a fabric is designed to transfer moisture from the horse’s skin and hair. Moisture-wicking fabrics are used in coolers.

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