Horse Facts and Tips
|First Posted: Nov 7, 2008|
Jan 12, 2014
Blanketing Your Horseby Debora Johnson
Many of us have the dilemma of whether we should blanket our horses or not. There is no pat answer to that question. It depends on your horse, what discipline you enjoy with your horse, what kind of environment is provided for your horse, your horse's age and health, etc. The following may help in the decision making process.
"...Our horses are not blanketed unless the temperature is really cold, if it is raining or sleeting, or very windy. We try to let the horses stay out because there is so much shelter for them and they are hardy, healthy, fit and well nourished with good quality hay. Their breeds are Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse and Kentucky Mountain Spotted Saddle Horse which are both quite hardy. We trail ride our horses. We do not show, compete, or fox hunt. Also we do not clip our horses. They get really shaggy in the winter and grow a wonderful coat that protects them. Our horses are also younger (8 and 9) and do not have any problem metabolizing their food. When we do blanket, the blankets fit properly, are waterproof and clean inside. We do have them professionally cleaned and waterproofed as needed. The outside is another story!
Some of you may already be eyeing your horse's blankets, wondering if you should put them on now. Most of the time, blanketing your horse does more for your peace of mind than actually helping the horse stay warm. A well-nourished, healthy horse can maintain their body temperature down to around 20 degrees F before they need 'help'. At that point, help can come in the form of shelter, extra forage, blankets, or a combination thereof.
Horses will adapt to colder temperatures in approximately 2 weeks. At first, you'll see them huddling with other horses, turning their hindquarters to the wind, and possibly using shelters more frequently. Their winter hair will stand on end, creating an airspace that traps heat next to their skin. In no time at all, however, their metabolism will shift and they'll be comfortable again.
Well-meaning owners who improperly blanket horses can actually cause the horse to feel colder. A blanket forces the hair down against the body, removing the natural insulation. If the blanket has inadequate insulation, the horse will actually feel colder than if he didn't even have the blanket on!
Tips on When and How to Blanket: (Virginia Tech/Mare Center News/November 2010, Volume 1, Issue 2)
For More Information:Blanketing Questions and Answers