Finding the Perfect Blanket = Fit + Quality + $
Like many Haflingers, Crumble in his natural state really doesn’t need a blanket. He grew up living outside 24/7, and grows a thick, healthy, winter coat. He’s not a wimp about weather, and (like me!) generally prefers to be cold rather than hot.
However, Crumble is also aiming to be an FEI horse. He is in regular work, all year long – in the fall/winter, he’s busy teaching lessons, and I play around with him occasionally. During spring/summer, lessons generally slow down and I get more of a chance to train and show him. So, while he does get time off whenever he needs it, he isn’t a pasture pet by any means.
Because of that, I do have to clip him to keep him comfortable. This year, he got a body clip at the beginning of the fall, and a trace clip once the hair started growing back. I won’t clip him again unless spring warms up too quickly and he proves to be too hairy to able to handle the heat. The weather here in Vermont tends to be snow almost constantly throughout winter, and temperatures are often below 10 degrees and it’s not unheard of to have days (or weeks) with lows below zero, or wind chills to -20 or more. And once it warms up, Crumble gets hot quickly if he hasn’t fully shed out yet.
In the past, we’ve gotten by with a rain sheet and medium weight blankets – hand-me-downs from his older siblings at Deer Haven. In fact, I’ve never purchased a turnout blanket for him until now. Being a clipped pony in New England, Crumble has been borrowing whatever heavyweight blanket we could find available at the barn when needed. As most Haflinger owners are, I was frustrated by the fit of most blankets on him.
Our current blanket arsenal
His rain sheet is an older Weatherbeeta, not super waterproof anymore. It’s a 78″, and it’s too long, yet too snug in the shoulders.
I’m still pretty happy with his medium, although I do hope to replace it in the next year or so. It’s a cheapo brand that no longer exists as far as I know (Dynasty Equine), that Rachel originally found online in a super-amazing clearance sale where she bought like a ton of blankets for $10-$20 each. First of all, I think he looks adorable in red. And it’s a very fitted blanket with a short drop, and size 80″ (hard to believe, but that’s what it’s marked). It’s still mostly waterproof after I re-sprayed it last year. His belly shows a little, but thankfully he’s not horribly self conscious. 😉
And here’s the heavy we’ve been borrowing. It’s also a Weatherbeeta. Also a 78″. I kinda hate the fit, but it was better than nothing and I’m glad it was available to borrow. I affectionately called it his pink dress.
When I started blanket shopping, I originally figured I’d just purchase any brand, searching for the one that best fit my budget. I ordered a Saxon at first, but the fit was a huge issue again – anything long enough for his body still didn’t fit in the shoulders.
After giving up for awhile, I began looking exclusively at blankets that were designed for Quarter Horses – low necks, round butts, short drop. I narrowed it down to Schneider’s Fitted V Free and Smartpak’s Rockin’ SP. I spent hours looking through all of the photos, and comparing specs, pricing, and guarantees.
Like most horse people, I’ve heard others sing the praises of Smartpak’s customer service and products. Unlike most horse people, I’ve never purchased from them. So I sent them a quick email, asking about the fit of the Rockin’ SP. Within a day, I heard back, and was assured that the Rockin’ SP would be perfect for Crumble. But even if by some weird twist of fate it wasn’t, it didn’t matter – FREE RETURNS. That’s more than I can say for returning the Saxon I bought earlier…
It was more than I wanted to pay for a blanket, so I had to wait a month in order to ensure that I had the money. And…lo and behold, around that time, a 20% off sale appeared. On the last day, I snagged myself that beautiful navy blanket. And let me tell you a secret: if you have Chrome as your browser, get yourself the Honey plugin ASAP. Do it. Once I was ready to order, Honey automatically went through tons of coupon codes to see if I could get a better discount, and it applied a code for another $30 off. Um, SCORE. I was pretty happy, especially knowing that if it didn’t fit I wouldn’t be out any money at all!
And of course, you’ll want to see pics?
As far as my experience went, it couldn’t have been better. First of all, the blanket arrived two days before the estimated arrival date, which was a nice surprise. Secondly (and the best part), because I purchased the Ultimate model, I can return it at any time, for any reason, for the next 10 years, and Smartpak will replace it, no questions asked. That means I don’t have to buy Crumble a new heavy blanket until he’s 19 years old. Or older.
While I know that there are other, high-quality blankets out there that will probably also last 10 years or more, I didn’t want to take any chances. He’s not rough on his blankets (he rarely even rolls outside, he’s too interested in eating), but he IS the go-to babysitter for the farm’s warmblood weanling and any other young/silly horse that needs to be watched over. So there’s a lot of potential for his clothes to get completely destroyed, and since my bank account is not bottomless, I didn’t want to spend any more than I had to.
What’s the bottom line?
The bottom line is this: I’m never buying Crumble’s blankets anywhere else. For the fit, the quality, the 10 year guarantee, and the customer service, it’s completely worth it. Thank you so much, Smartpak. You rock.
Next on my list to save up for? A new Rockin’ SP rain sheet!