Stable Sheet vs Blanket: What Are the Key Differences?

Are you at a standstill in deciding whether to buy a stable sheet or blanket for your horse?

As an equestrian for over five years, I know that the variety of coverings can be overwhelming (from blanket shopping myself!), so I want to help remove the confusion.

In this article, I will compare stable sheets vs blankets, clarify when to use each, and help you decide which to choose for your horse.  

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Detailed Comparison Between Stable Sheet and Stable Blanket

Stable Sheet: What is it and When to Use it

A stable sheet is meant to be used while a horse is indoors. It is a breathable and lightweight blanket covering for your horse that has no fill or insulation.  [1]

stable sheet

There are different types of horse stable sheets, such as anti-sweat sheets, that provide certain amounts of warmth suitable for temperature fluctuations and windy weather. 

It does not provide additional warmth but is suitable for moderate temperatures inside a barn, stall, or trailer. It provides some UV protection for horses.

Stable sheets do not have waterproof protection but have water-resistant features to keep your horse clean and comfortable.

Their lightness promotes airflow while providing just enough cover for your horse. This provides a level of protection for horses against elements. 

A turnout sheet, like a turnout blanket (or blanket liner), is not insulated.

They may sometimes have nylon linings or cotton linings that will give your horse a little bit of additional warmth without the potential dangers of overheating.

READ MORE: When to Put a Sheet on a Horse

Overheated horses can experience a whole range of dangerous health conditions, from heat exhaustion to heatstroke. [2]

stable sheet

I love using my stable sheet just after my horse has been groomed to keep their coat clean and shiny. Grey horses are notorious for being hard to clean, and the stable sheet makes the job less taxing!

The less time I spend grooming, the more time I can spend with my horse. Plus, who doesn’t love a nice shiny coat? Stable coverings are typically made of cotton fabric, nylon, and similar materials.

These dress sheets are commonly used to keep horses clean before events or races and maintain the core temperature of your horse. 

They do not allow much freedom of movement and are tight-fitting because they are meant to be used when the horse is not moving around.

A well-fitting blanket will do a better job of keeping a horse warm than an ill-fitting one that is loose and flowy. 

Here’s a great blanketing guide.

Stable Blanket: What is it and When to Use it

Up next in the stable blanket vs. sheet comparison, is the stable blanket. A stable blanket is similar to a stable sheet in that it is also meant to be used when the horse is indoors.

stable blanket

What separates the stable covering from the sheet is that stable blankets are heavier and have a fill or insulation to keep your horse cozy during warm weather. 

These can be seen as coarser winter coats or a fat cover for your horse to stay warm during colder months. 

Notably, there is cool weather that removes the core body temperature and these cloaks provide levels of warmth to your horse. 

They can be layered underneath blankets your horse already wears for an extra layer of warmth. There are three types of fill inside stable blankets, resulting in a range of weights:

  • Lightweight Coverings- 0-100 grams of fill.
  • Medium-Weight Coverings  150-250  grams of fill.
  • Heavy Coverings- 300 or more grams of fill.

Stable blankets are not waterproof or durable enough to last long during turnout time. [3]

However, they often have built-in water resistance, a cotton blend, and a quilted design to provide extra warmth to your horse along with the cotton, nylon, or polyester fabric.

horse wearing a stable blanket

Stable blankets are like your favorite blanket you love to snuggle under at home, but for your horse.

I love putting my stable blanket on my horse when cold weather or a chill comes in because they are older and have a more challenging time regulating their body heat.

The turnout rugs keep my horse dry and warm when the barn is drafty. Nothing better than seeing your horse all bundled up and ready for the cold with an extra level of warmth.

Watch this video if you want to learn more.

Also Check: The Stable Blankets For Barn For Horses

Which One Should You Choose: Stable Sheet or Blanket?

This comes down to whether you need to keep your horse warm or not.

Choose the stable sheet if your horse will be inside or in transport during warm or moderate weather and keep its coat clean and dry after being groomed.

Choose the stable blanket if there is going to be cold weather and your horse needs the insulation in the blanket to help them stay warm in the stall or while being transported.

There are five factors used to determine if your horse needs a blanket. These are: [4]

  • Horse age. 
  • Living conditions.
  • Body condition.
  • Coat condition.
  • Lower critical temperature (lowest temperature at which a horse can still regulate their body temperature on its own)

Based on these factors, a horse will need a blanket if they are a senior horse, live outdoors without a shelter, have been clipped or are underweight, or have a lower than average lower critical temperature.

Otherwise, they will be fine on a sheet or farewell without covering.

This video gives useful tips. Check it out!

Stable Sheet Vs Blanket Comparison Table

 Stable BlanketStable Sheet 
Stall Use YesNo 
Trailer UseYesYes
Paddock UseNo Yes 
Pasture UseNoYes
Waterproof CoatingNoYes
Water-Resistant DependsYes
WindproofNoYes
BreathableDependsYes
Freedom of MovementMediumHigh
Durable MediumHigh

Generally, there are several types of coverings aimed at extended protection against worst winter weather and to keep horses warm for shorter periods of time, without a sweat build-up.

These coverings are suitable for all body types and sometimes come in combo neck blankets. If you are concerned about space, these can be stored on blanket racks.

Dirty blankets can easily be taken to a laundry service that knows blanket washing guidelines.  

A stable sheet is a non-insulated, waterproof covering that keeps your horse warm and dry while indoors or clean after grooming.

A stable blanket does the same with the added benefit of fill or insulation that keeps your horse comfortable in cold weather.

FAQs

Does my horse need a stable covering?

Your horse will not need a stable blanket if it can regulate its body temperature without the extra insulation, is not a senior horse, has good body condition, and has a shelter it can go to outdoors.

Can you use a cooler as a stable cloak?

Coolers cannot be used as a stable blanket because they are different pieces of equipment. They are made of wool or fleece to wick away sweat and keep the horse dry. [5]
The only way coolers could be used as a blanket is if they were tailored to have secure leg straps on them not to fall off while the horse moves.

Should horses always be coated when they are transported in winter?

It depends on if the horse is traveling alone or with other horses. When a horse is being transported by themselves, they will likely need a blanket in case drafts enter through the gaps in the trailer.

When is blanketing your horse most beneficial?

Coverings are beneficial in cold wind and rain, which are the weather conditions that are the most difficult for horses to deal with. 

At what temperature does a horse need a blanket?

Horses need blankets when the temperatures reach 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower when not clipped.
They may require a minimum of a sheet in all temperatures as they do not have their natural coat hair to keep them warm if they have been entire body clipped.  

In Conclusion

Dependent on your horse’s needs, a perfect blanket or sheet can help maintain warmth and comfort during cold weather.

Stable blankets should be used when horses need extra warmth, while stable sheets are a simple, lightweight covering.

Horses need blankets if they are old, clipped, thin, live outdoors, and have a lower critical body temperature.  

horse wearing a gray stable blanket

Do you use a stable sheet or a stable blanket for your horse? Let us know in the comments below!

References

  • 1. Horse Blanketing Guide [Internet]. www.valleyvet.com. Available from: https://www.valleyvet.com/library/horse-blanketing-basics.html
  • 2. Heat Stress in Horses: Symptoms and Prevention – AQHA [Internet]. www.aqha.com. [cited 2022 Feb 8]. Available from: https://www.aqha.com/-/heat-stress-in-horses
  • 3. Saddlery D. Stable Sheets & Blankets Versus Turnout Sheets & Blankets [Internet]. Discussions at Dover. 2015 [cited 2022 Feb 8]. Available from: https://blog.doversaddlery.com/stable-sheets-blankets-versus-turnout-sheets-blankets/
  • 4. The Ultimate Horse Blanketing Guide [Internet]. SmartPak Equine. [cited 2022 Feb 8]. Available from: https://www.smartpakequine.com/content/horse-blanket-guide
  • 5. What’s so Cool About Coolers for Horses? [Internet]. The Horse. 2019 [cited 2022 Feb 8]. Available from: https://thehorse.com/19745/whats-so-cool-about-coolers-for-horses/
Bryanna Tanase
Bryanna Tanase

Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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