How to Take off A Horse Blanket

Three Parts:Knowing When to Take Off a BlanketTying Up and Unbuckling the Blanketed HorseRemoving the Blanket

Horse blankets, also called horse rugs, come in many different designs and materials. They are worn by the horse to keep them warm, dry and clean. They can help warm up and cool down before and after exercise, and give some protection against minor rubs, scratches and biting insects depending on their design.Taking off a horse blanket is just as important as putting it on; it must be done right to avoid damaging the blanket or spooking the horse.

Part 1
Knowing When to Take Off a Blanket

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    Take off the blanket if you plan to ride the horse. If you’re going to ride the horse, you will need to groom him and tack him up. You won’t ride him with the blanket. If it’s cold, though, you can put a cooler on him while you’re brushing him.
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    Take off the blanket if your horse is sweating, especially on the neck and behind the ears. If your horse is sweating beneath the blanket, you’ve certainly overblanketed your horse and he is uncomfortable. Though a blanket might be appropriate for some night when it’s cold, look out for changes in temperature from night to day.[1]
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    Take off the blanket if you want your horse to grow a winter coat. Blankets will keep your horse from growing his natural winter coat, so if you do want him to grow his coat, do not put his blanket on.[2] However, if it is below 5 degrees Fahrenheit, you should keep the blanket on.[3]

Part 2
Tying Up and Unbuckling the Blanketed Horse

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    Tie the horse up. Put the horse on cross ties or attach him to a hitching post. Give him a pat to relax him before you take the blanket off. Move slowly and talk quietly to let the horse know where you are and what you're doing. Be relaxed, and don’t make any sudden movements.
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    Undo the clasps from back to front, except for the front buckles. Most blankets have three sets of clasps: one pair of straps underneath the tail, two belly straps, and a couple of buckles in front, on the horse’s chest. Going from back to front is important because, if the horse gets spooked and runs away, the front buckles will keep the blanket on him, rather than having the blanket come off and get tangled around his legs.[4]
    • Do not go right behind a horse unless you know him very well, just in case he kicks. Always go around the front of the horse.
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    Fold the back third of the blanket up onto the middle third of the blanket. This keeps the horse comfortable and makes it easier to take the blanket off.[5] Do this step slowly and carefully, making sure that all of the straps are undone and untangled from the horse’s legs and tail.

Part 3
Removing the Blanket

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    Undo the front buckles. Fold the front third of the blanket onto the middle third, so that the entire blanket is folded onto the horse’s middle. Take the blanket off of the horse slowly and gently, going with the direction of the coat. Try to lift the blanket off instead of sliding it, so that you can prevent the transmission of static electricity.[6]
    • If necessary, pull the blanket over the horse’s head. Some blankets must go over the horse’s head, rather than being able to be taken off completely from the side. If this is the case with your horse’s blanket, untie him from the cross ties or hitching post, but attach his halter to a lead rope. Hold the lead rope in one hand and slowly bring the blanket over the horse’s head. Slide it onto your arm and then tie your horse up again.[7]
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    Fold the blanket. If the blanket is wet, hang it up with the wet part facing outward. If the blanket is clean and dry, fold it. Grab the top of the blanket on both the mane and tail ends, so that the blanket is already folded once. Put the mane and tail ends of the blanket together to fold it again. Fold it in half one more time and put it away.
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    Untie the horse. Lead your horse back to the paddock, or tack him up if you are planning to ride him. Give him a pat for staying calm and still while you took off the blanket.


  • Always remain calm and collected around horses. They can sense when you’re nervous and know when you are relaxed.
  • It is a good idea to get a young horse, or one inexperienced with blankets, used to the whole process before actually putting the blanket on them. Get some treats and show the horse the blanket and rub it over him within his comfort zone. Increase what you do with the blanket with each session. Start this training before you need the blanket.


  • Some horses, especially young horses, can be afraid of getting their blankets put on and taken off. If you do not know the horse you’re unblanketing, ask someone who knows him well if he is nervous about blanketing.

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Categories: Horse Care