Blanketing Poll - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 38 Old 12-08-2013, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Blanketing Poll

I would like to hear some opinions on blanketing. This is for those who do NOT clip their horses. (I figure if you clip them down for Winter and it gets cold, you blanket themů or at least I hope you do!)

My horse is not clipped, and has a fairly thick coat. He has a nice sized paddock he shares with another horse, and gets out in a field 5 times a week. I put a medium weight blanket on him when the temps drop below 5 and/or the wind is such that his wind shed doesn't keep the wind out.

There are horses on large acreage here who are out all Winter and NEVER get blanketed, but they have huge areas to roam and keep moving. These horses live more "as nature intended" rather than being in a paddock.

I have friends who think I am crazy, and say I should NEVER blanket, but it will be 6 below zero tonight, and I figure the medium weight might help keep his warmth in. (BTW, the blankets always come off at sunrise.)

What are your thoughts?

"Do you give the horse its strength, or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?" (Job 39:19)
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post #2 of 38 Old 12-08-2013, 10:09 PM
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If you are going to blanket it is important that the blanket is suitable. I would not use a medium weight when it's 6 below. Get a heavy or leave it off. You will do more harm then good putting an unsuitable blanket on.

I also throw blankets on my horses when its REALLY cold (and sudden). I'm sure they'd be fine but it makes me feel better. They spend 99% of the time unblanketed. And we don't have a pony blanket so the Icelandic goes without... I don't worry about her though!
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post #3 of 38 Old 12-08-2013, 10:12 PM
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Personally, I don't blanket my horses. With the small amount of riding I do there is no need to clip them. They have a thick coat, accessible shelter during the day and are inside in a well insulated barn all night. If the weather is absolutely terrible they stay inside for a day.

I do use a blanket on my mom's pony though. He's 33, arthritic and has trouble keeping full weight in the winter. He also had a thick coat and stays inside on yucky days. I use a mid weight blanket on him when he's turned out and it's 20 or below.
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post #4 of 38 Old 12-08-2013, 10:36 PM
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Do they have shelter? Are they healthy? Do they have hay and water? I am not saying blankets should never be used, there are exceptions. But in general, I think blanketing can do more harm than good.
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post #5 of 38 Old 12-08-2013, 10:57 PM
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Personally, I think that blanketing my horse would be more for my comfort than for hers. She's got an extremely thick winter coat, head to toe, is at a healthy weight plus a few pounds going into winter, and she has an excellent shelter in her paddock where she can get away from wind and mud. She's also of a breed accustomed to colder climes, which helps a lot, in my opinion.

That said, I respect everyone's right to make their own decision regarding their horse. I'm pretty sure it's a myth that blanketing inhibits their ability to grow a winter coat, since it's based on daylight, not warmth. Horses' bodies automatically grow a thicker coat as the days grow shorter. I also think that different conditions warrant different treatment--heavy winds are a major enemy, and I would likely blanket my pony if she was in high-wind conditions. Mud is also something I'm conscious of protecting her from. If her shelter didn't stay dry, I would probably a) blanket her and b) be out every single day to wipe off her legs and pick her hooves. Maybe twice a day. Cold mud scares the crap out of me.

So, yeah, personally I don't blanket my horse. But there are super-legit reasons to blanket a horse, and I don't really judge anyone based on their decision to blanket or not.
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post #6 of 38 Old 12-08-2013, 11:02 PM
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Money would probably be better spent on free choice, high quality hay.

I have blanketed, when my horses were wet and shivering, but (thankfully) that hasn't happened in recent years. If I had a really underweight or senior horse I might blanket. But right now the two I have are at a good weight and healthy so if I feel I must do something, I throw extra hay at them.
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post #7 of 38 Old 12-08-2013, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies.

For those who asked, my horse gets excellent hay, plenty of water and is very healthy. I agree that I probably blanket more for me than him. Are your temps below zero in the Winter? The only people here who use heavy weight blankets are those who clip. Not sure why a medium weight would not work for a horse with a coat, butů I do have much to learn.

Thanks for the input.

"Do you give the horse its strength, or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?" (Job 39:19)
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post #8 of 38 Old 12-08-2013, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by imagaitin View Post
Thanks for the replies.

For those who asked, my horse gets excellent hay, plenty of water and is very healthy. I agree that I probably blanket more for me than him. Are your temps below zero in the Winter? The only people here who use heavy weight blankets are those who clip. Not sure why a medium weight would not work for a horse with a coat, but… I do have much to learn.

Thanks for the input.
The problem with blankets are that when you put them on they flatten the horses coat so its not able to work as an insulator like its supposed to. So you may think because they have a thick coat they shouldn't need as heavy of a blanket but really putting the blanket on can make them colder if its not a heavy enough blanket for the temperature.

I'm only blanketing my guy when its nasty wet out, like not thick fluffy snow but sleetly ice rain :( He doesn't have the best shelter at the moment so I don't want him to get soaking wet when its freezing out.
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post #9 of 38 Old 12-08-2013, 11:51 PM
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I blanket my mare because of the sudden changes in weather(and so she dose not get coated in dirt) One day it will be a high of 50 with a low of 30, the next a high of 65 and a low of 43 then the day after its a low in the 30s again with the high still in the 60s -_-'(I love fall and spring, all the horses colic because the weather change *sarcasm*). I wont clip her but her coat gets to thick for the weather out here and she wont shed her arctic coat until 110 degree weather (about end of June beginning of July). So to forgo that she gets a medium blanket. She is fine, shes not hot and shes not cold. If she was a younger horse and did not grow a coat that reveled my friends minis I would not bother to blanket.
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post #10 of 38 Old 12-09-2013, 12:12 AM
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I have never blanketed horses. With horses that have adequate hair coats putting on blankets can create more problems than help. The reason is that horses have 3 layers of hairs (cat hairs, guard hairs and down hairs. Guard hairs are the most numerous and literaly "guard" the horse from the elements. It provides wind protection, rain proofing/guard from sebaceious oils, and heat barrier. The long cat hairs under the jaw, belly and legs provide the same protection but more dense in areas that the body needs it. ie for warmth in the juglar area, protection from the elements like mud and water on the legs and so forth. The down hairs protect the skin and holds heat next to the skin as well as control sebaceous oils and etc.) When the horse begins to get cold the animal fluffs up his hair by various folicle hair muscles thus creating the "fluffed" up look. This creates a heat barrier between the outside elements and the skin or body. Horses with efficient hair have no problems with this and can withstand considerable amounts of cold and even wind (though most horses will locate a wind barrier to thwart biting cold wind) even if the animal gets wet(as long as he doesnt get drenched to the bone (which he shouldnt with adequate hiar coverage) should still be able to withstaqnd cold temps due to the natural barrier his hair creates. That is why you see horses and ponies with unmelted snow on thier backs, this is a good indication that the animal is not losing heat and is suuficient on staying warm. WIth a good core temp maintenance (with plenty of hay, can help with maintaining such because horses are hind gut fermenters) and a simple wind break (even a vally between two hills can create a wind break)

Putting a blanket on will hinder the horse's ability to "fluff up" and hold heat and a blanket (unless heavy type in bitter cold) cannot provide this as efficiently as a healthy, hairy horse. Even a horse with moderate hair growth are efficient enough to withstand cold temps. I kept a light blanket for that "just in case" senerio (illness or what have you). I cared for an appy with various health issues and who did not grow efficient enough hair coat that wore a Weatha Beeta turn out rug when the temps fell below freezing. If he began shivering he was blanketed other than that nothing.

If the animal is shivering, and having trouble maintaining a healthy body weight then one should blanket. (or illness or shaved or being shown for hair control)

The first thing I do is increase hay (increases energy levels and forage fiber), by 10% for every degree below freezing (or what the horse can consume with out excessive waste or excessive weight gain) which will ferment in the gut of the horse and help keep core temps at maintenance levels. If you cant do this increase energy levels from concentrates can help this matter also.

In all of the years I have delt with horses (about 30 years) I have never blanketed anything turned out in the great outdoors with or with out shelter, though usualy a wind break was available. (now blanketing a clipped or show animal is a whole different ball game)

Oh and dirt can be a good thing because it helps absorb excessive sebacious oils and pull dead skin cells from the body and one should groom horses during the winter to rid the dirt which contain such. Grooming also helps with circulation, dispersment of sebacious oils, dead skin, and releive itchiness amongst cutting skin infection by half (like rain rot by lifting the hairs and allowing dry air in to dry excessive dampness esp after rain and or snow). Matted down hair doesnt fluff up as easily or efficiently. We humans just dont like to deal with alot of dirt esp on horses that find muddy holes as a day at the mud bath spa treatment. Icky dusty mess. I use a good sturdy plastic curry to get rid of the dried mud then have at with my rubber curry. Most times a good curry is all that it takes. Plus I like the bonding.

"The question is not, can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, can they suffer?" Jeremy Bentham

Last edited by ZaneyZanne123; 12-09-2013 at 12:22 AM.
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