Winter horse blanket prices seemed to have sky-rocketed over time when looking back and this trend can tend to intimidate owners into purchasing the more expensive option. First and foremost for the owner who is considering blanketing their horse, do your research. Understand the weather conditions that are common to your geographical area. Understand the needs of your horse or horses in whether or not the cold weather will stress them out without a blanket. Consider the everyday lifestyle of your horse regarding turnout, shelter, and stalling. Also consider the training and exercise regime expected of the horse throughout the colder season and if this impacts your horse's winter fur coat (such as if they are clipped for competition).
It is important to remember that undomesticated horses do just fine through the winter seasons without blanketing. Their winter coats come in thick and if the season is colder than expected, the body adjusts to grow a thicker winter coat the following year. As owners, we have become wimps in our own discomfort in the cold (not an attack, I'm a complete wimp in the cold!) and now it seems that almost every domesticated horse found in cold terrain is blanketed for the season. But as long as you understand that this is a human-sponsored luxury and is not a life-depending need of the horse, you are in good standings.
Understanding all the considerations above, there are both benefits and hazards to blanketing your horse with the coming cold winter. Benefits include helping to maintain weight on a hard-keeper who loses weight with any form of stress, including cold weather, as well as blanketing helps protect them from the elements while you have a sense of peace with your horse living a more natural life with full turnout. Some hazards to caution on blanketing is to make sure that a horse is not blanketed early before the real cold sets in or else they will not have a chance to grow their winter coat at all, to not have a heavy blanket on a horse when it is above freezing or else risk them over-heating and colicking, and to understand that blanketing in general gradually kills the winter coat over time so that it will not grow in thick each winter.
All that being said, it is acceptable to be a complete wimp in over-caring for your horses as RPE has become, so long as you have that understanding and open mind when other horses are being cared for differently and are perfectly healthy. RPE horses have several different layers that are used through the ever-chaning weather, as well as the awesome heavy blankets that are recommended below!
Recommended Heavy Blanket with Wraps ~ $90 - $115
Absolutely and without a doubt, RPE's award for the most cost-efficient and amazing-quality winter blanket goes to the HILASON 1200 Denier Waterproof Winter Horse Blankets (400g)! This blanket is an absolute must for any horse owner and the price is as though it's on a 50% sale year-round. All RPE horses have this blanket as their heavy winter blanket without question. Available on Amazon, the HILASON winter horse blankets come in a variety of colors and all come with a belly wrap included for approximately $90. To purchase the full set with the neck wrap included, the final price comes to approximately $115. This blanket has met all RPE needs including color choice (for horse color-coding), protection, durability (Dark Delight is a reigning blanket-destroyer), and secure fit (meaning it does not move nor rub the fur). Again, absolutely recommend this blanket if an owner is going to get any blanket (start with this one!). The only part that I've had to replace is the front clip on Dark Delight's (which you can purchase in bulk relatively cheap). Zero regrets and still in love! All three pictures below are HILASON heavy blankets (with Chloe having her light-fill sheet layer underneath for a Polar Vortex and it's crazy, negative degree weather).
All three pictures are HILASON heavy blankets (with Chloe having her light-fill sheet layer underneath for a Polar Vortex and it's crazy, negative degree weather).