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PBELKNAP Posted - 02/05/2013 : 08:41:10 AM
I have what is probably going to be a crazy idea for a project...

Has anyone ever heard of anyone knitting a horse blanket?

I have a dear coworker who loves horses, and I thought it might be a nice idea to make her a blanket for her horse. Do horse blankets have to be made out of any particular fiber? Is there a standard size?



Twitter Name = WildKnitter


If I could only do this for a living...
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Kade1301 Posted - 02/06/2013 : 07:48:48 AM
I knit, I weave, I own two horses. I have never knitted anything for them, but I don't see why it can't be done. If you choose the project wisely:

First of all, VERY few horses even need blankets (when I worked in an English rididng school we called them rugs - which already gives you an idea of the fabric qualities wanted). That would be the first thing to check... (my horses haven't worn rugs for years - one of them probably never in his life).

If the rug is meant to be worn for any length of time, it should be horse-shaped - I'm sure there's thousands of pictures on the internet. And sturdy, safe fastenings are necessary (at the very least at the breast, possibly a roller/girth could fasten it around the chest).

So frankly, I think knitting a stable rug/turn-out rug is just not a very practical project (besides, apart from the rolling issue - and bedding should NOT be nasty! - horses won't hesitate to take off their rugs if they are hot or don't like it for any other reason, which generally is rather unhealthy for the rug. Then the rests of the rug end up in a cupboard where mice will use it to build their nests.

However, there is something called a fly sheet (a mesh supposed to protect the horse from flies while being walked to cool down), or a walking cooler (a huge rectangle that covers the horse from head to tail) and as these are not designed to be left on the horse, their survival chances are better (as long as the owner pays attention to them). You could even knit lace patterns into a fly sheet (but out of rather solid yarn on big needles - I'm not suggesting using actual laceweight yarn around horses!) But the big question is whether your colleague would even use one - could you ask her directly? Or, If the present is supposed to be a surprise, could you watch her at the stables? After working with the horse?

I wouldn't knit a numnah/saddle pad because they need to be rather thick to actually fulfill their padding role, preferably without any structure that could press into the horses skin (I've always felt that the navajo rug imitation was at the very limits of acceptable) and it will suffer quite a lot of pressure and abrasion (meaning I wouldn't expect it to last long).

Actually, the more I think about it, the better I like the idea of a lace-pattern fly sheet (it would have to be a stitch pattern that looks reasonable without blocking, just because the thing would be huge - and too thick to fold four times for pinning it out on the bed). It's a pity I don't go to competitions any more - walking the horse around in one after the show would be a sure-fire way to get attention, I think....

Fibrewise it must be something you like to work with and that is affordable (you'll need LOTS). For a fly sheet cotton or linen or hemp should work (I believe mine were cotton) - as it's for cooling down a horse after work, it should absorb sweat easily. And be easy to wash.

Another "reasonable" knitting project: Ear nets. Actually, the ones I see in the catalog are called crocheted, but I don't see why they couldn't be knitted (possibly even the ears themselves if you don't sew).

Of course, knitting something for the owner (with an intarsia horse or horse head) would certainly be the more conventional thing to do...

Or, do you braid or tablet weave? Those techniques offer endless scope for making things for horses.

Please, do inform us what becomes of your idea. I'd love to see how it turns out!

Happy knitting! Klara
yarnlover Posted - 02/06/2013 : 07:12:45 AM
I agree that a saddle blanket would be a better choice - and I would felt it if I were making one. That would make it smooth and durable. I had horses in another lifetime, and though I never had a handknit saddle blanket, I would wonder how sensitive a horse's back may be to the ridges in knitting with the weight of saddle and rider. Maybe not at all, but if felted, the blanket would be smooth.

Also, maybe it would make a difference on the type of saddle. I used English tack, so don't know much about Western equipment. Probably something to consider, even as far as size, if nothing else.

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lucybug Posted - 02/05/2013 : 4:20:03 PM
I'm sure your friend would be very appreciative but I don't think it would last very long. Horses are not the cleanest animals and many tend to roll in their nasty bedding or the dirt. However, what if you made a saddle blanket? They're much smaller and can go between the pad and another layer to keep it clean. I've seen decorative saddle pads -- mini-Navajo blankets etc. Going to tack shop is a good idea -- get some measurements and ideas.

Pam in the Colorado mountains
flicka Posted - 02/05/2013 : 11:13:16 AM
Purlthis is undoubtedly right, that it is not a practical undertaking. I know nothing about horses, but I do remember seeing in one of my Lopi pattern books a picture of one of those cute Icelandic horses wearing a handknit blanket. If I can find it I'll post a link because it was truly unusual.

purlthis Posted - 02/05/2013 : 10:40:45 AM
They used to always be made of wool, but in recent years they are made of a polyester nylon blend. They need to be extremely durable, as they often get caught on things or torn. I come from a long line of horsemen, and I don't think I would handknit something like this for the horse. Maybe something with a horse entrelac for the owner.

As I get older, I prefer to knit. Tracey Ullman UPDATED! WITH PICS!
ikkivan Posted - 02/05/2013 : 09:36:31 AM
Pam, that sounds like a really special gift. I know little about horse blankets, but I think you'd want wool and at a very sturdy gauge. Visit a tack shop and size up some horse blankets there; if they can be woven, I'm sure they can be knit!

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)

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