Some might remember a time when fleece referred to wool rather than the warm, soft, and fluffy material now known as fleece. This synthetic fleece (also called polar fleece) can now be found in many products, including fleece jackets, fleece hats, and even fleece blankets for horses. But what is fleece? Here are five surprising facts about fleece that may make fleece the best blanket for horses:
Fleece is Relatively New
Horses, including "wild" horses such as the North American Mustang, have been in North America since being introduced over 400 years ago as domesticated animals from Europe. By comparison, fleece is relatively new. Fleece was invented
in the late 1970s and the first fleece sportswear product was introduced in 1981. Fleece was not patented, which has made fleece products widely available from many different suppliers and producers. Fleece was invented as a synthetic alternative to wool, which can be heavy, scratchy, and a possible allergen in sensitive people and animals. Worse yet, wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water. While wool can remain warm even when wet
, wool does become much heavier when wet.
Fleece and Plastic Bottles Are Made From the Same Plastic
Fleece is woven from threads formed from a plastic called polyethylene terephthalate
(also known as PET). PET may sound familiar because it is the same plastic used to make plastic milk jugs and plastic water bottles. In fact, some fleece is made from recycled plastic bottles, saving those bottles from going into a landfill. Moreover, since fleece is made from plastic, it is more durable than many natural fibers. Fleece is also considered vegan friendly because it is made without animal products.
Fleece is Light and Breathable, Yet Cozy
When selecting a horse blanket, factors in the selection might include the weight and breathability of the material as well as its ability to maintain a comfortable body temperature. Fleece is made with small synthetic fibers that form a soft pile surface
. The pile surface gives fleece blankets for horses a soft and cozy feel. The pile surface also traps air and air is a very good thermal insulator
which maintains a comfortable body temperature. Those air pockets make fleece blankets for horses
light and breathable as well, keeping the horse comfortable with reduced weight and sweating.
Fleece is Water Resistant
Because fleece fibers are spun from plastic, fleece is naturally water resistant
and dries quickly. The structure of the air pockets allows the fleece to trap warm air even when the outer surface becomes wet. Moreover, fleece can be treated with finishes or layered with other materials to increase the water resistance. The material fleece was invented to replace, wool, absorbs water. This means that wool takes a long time to dry
after getting wet and can stretch and distort due to the weight of the absorbed water.
Fleece is Used by the US Military and NASA
The properties of fleece are so impressive that both the US Army and NASA use fleece. The US Army uses a material called Army Elements Fleece
that combines fleece with a fireproof layer to make warm, fireproof jackets for air crews. Similarly, NASA
has researched using fleece for the thermal underwear layer in its launch and reentry pressure suits. With its use by air crews and astronauts, it is easy to see why fleece is used in some of the best horse blankets.
Fleece blankets for horses are warm yet breathable. A horse fleece blanket will resist light amounts of water and dry relatively quickly. A fleece blanket for a horse will be durable, yet light and cozy.