Friday, December 6, 2013

With Love from Minnesota

Hello Bloglings,

Greetings from Minnesota! As I drove to work this morning my outside temperature indicated it was -4 degrees, and the snow squeaks under my tires - it is COLD!

This winter, with Foxie seeming like she isn't running quite as warm as she used too, and the skinny 4-year old not growing in the coat I was expecting, I have been blanketing off of the guide:

50-60 degrees - sheet
40-50 degrees - Light blanket
30-40 degrees - Light/Medium blanket
20-30 degrees - Medium/Heavy blanket
Below 20 - Heavy blanket

Bailey has a fresh modified Irish clip as of a few days ago, and Foxie is being left in her full hairy glory, as she really doesn't work hard enough to warrant a clip. I am growing quite fond of my new Schneider's blanket liners, which I loved the idea of and have found that they proved themselves thus far 110%. As I've probably said several times on this blog, I HATE fleece as a blanket liner. It gets static-y and I have found that most of the liners I've seen tend to slip, rub or stretch, making them an investment that doesn't last long. The Schneider's blanket liners are ultra light weight and offer a nice slick nylon outside that doesn't rub the coat or cause static thus far. The liners stay in place with the leg straps of the outside blanket and actually STAY in place, which is amazing. They are 150g of warmth and so far have been used under rain sheets for chilly days and Bailey is wearing one under her Medium blanket from Schneider's to push it up to a heavy for this freezing weather.

Speaking of Bailey's medium...

You can find the review below this post right here on this blog!

Right now, Bailey has the following blankets:

Weatherbeeta Genero 1200D T/O Sheet
Weatherbeeta 1200D Original Detatch-A-Neck Medium
Schneiders 1680D Attached Neck Arctic Combo (Medium)
Schneiders Blanket Liner (180 grams)

Right now she's wearing the liner and the Arctic Combo, for a total of 400 grams, the warmest option she can be wearing. So far, I'm quite pleased with the current lineup -a less heavy neck for days above 20 or so, a heavier one for the really cold days and the option of a regular, neck-less medium should I want it. I feel that the Arctic Combo, with it's lined neck, is much warmer than the standard medium and functions as a heavier-than-medium blanket that can be used before we get to the blanket + liner stage. Perhaps I'm a madwoman. Perhaps I should just buy a blanket in the proper weight. But I'm pretty darn satisfied with this selection, which is all that matters.

I also am pleased to have two "extras" for just in case type days - a rain sheet and a medium, and part time, the infamous 80 gram enigma blanket. I really like the idea of the 80 gram but haven't quite found a replacement that I'm truly happy with (it's been with Foxie almost as long as I've owned her and is really sun faded / not very waterproof, also the fate of the medium mentioned above) so it will stay around as an under blanket or no-rain blanket until I find something that works.

In an attempt to reel you readers in, how do you blanket? What weights of blanket do you keep "on tap" for your corner of the world?

Kicking On,

Ashley, Foxie and Bailey

Review: Schneiders 1680D Arctic Combo

I have been pretty invested in watching this purchase like a hawk, as my first Schneider's blanket. It was bought because I was tight for cash, needed a blanket and couldn't afford a Weatherbeeta at the time, and is turning out to be quite a good deal for my needs. If you're looking for a blanket, here are my thoughts:

Overall, I'm quite pleased. I am spoiled by the Weatherbeeta blankets, and thus find this blanket to be a bit shorter in the drop than I'd like and lacks the overly large tail flap on the freestyle blankets. The blanket does fit Bailey's deep chest well enough and the tail flap is larger than many blankets. I find the front to be a bit short in front of the chest, but the neck does extend down nicely. The neck itself seems to stay up nicely and I really like the way it overlaps substantially to really keep the neck warm.

Neck has velcro attachments that are surprisingly nicer to use than I was expecting, and are staying quite clean. The front has trigger clips with buckle adjusts, and velcro to keep it closed. The blanket seems to be quite adjustable, and the velcro comes covered with a square of jersey to keep it from harming the blanket. Leg straps and belly staps seem to have good hardware and are quite sturdy. Belly t-locks have the rubber blanket rings for a tight fit.

Materials, Waterproofing, etc:
The material is 1680D and doesn't appear to have any pulls or snags after several weeks on the horse. Everything is nicely bound and the material seems to be of good quality. The waterproofing in general seems to be quite good; I was a bit disappointed that I felt moisture inside at the shoulder gussets (there is quite a bit of stitching there, so not unexpected) and on the bottom of the neck piece after a day out in rain that was slowly becoming snow. The blanket was wet but on the whole was dry underneath and dried externally well enough that the only moisture left on day 2 (with some of the rain continuing in to the next morning) was at the bottom of the hood, where it shouldn't do much harm.

The Verdict:
8/10 - lots of nice perks with this blanket and VERY affordable at 114$ for a medium. I plan to buy another for Foxie, as I really like the fully lined, overlapping neck over the "detatch-a-neck" on her Weatherbeetas, that can get blown up and don't offer as much insulation. This blanket is one I would suggest for a generally dry climate, or as a blanket for deep winter - it is very snug, but I will be using my Weatherbeeta blankets for the wet days like we've had as of late. I am quite pleased with this purchase all in all.

April Follow Up:

I'm less than thrilled and would downgrade my review to about a 5/10. Beyond the disappointing lack of waterproofing (therefore any sight of moisture in the forecast meant changing out blankets...) the blanket developed a small hole and a number of snags a few weeks after my initial review. From there, more teeth marks appeared as abrasions on the top of the fabric, and in the past few months, areas that look snagged. The poly really didn't hold up, despite the 1680 denier. The final straw was Bailey growing over the winter - she hasn't increased in size but has bulked up and grown an inch upwards. This blanket barely covered her belly and was approaching mini skirt status on both belly and rump. Bailey's other blanket, a 75" Weatherbeeta Original, still fits like it has all year. Puzzling. But definitely something to take into consideration either way.