Originally Posted by petitepyromaniac View Post
I'm really just doing it so she can stay warm. Staying dry would be an added bonus for me though! I don't mind the extra hair, so I'm not concerned about that.
So you just use a sheet, with no fill? I once heard that a sheet can flatten a horses coat, and it's the space between the coat and the body that keeps the horses warm, so they can get colder by wearing a sheet. Is that true? How cold are your winters?
If you look at a horse with a good coat out in the cold, you will see that their hair does fluff up, creating that air space next to the skin to help trap the warmth, but any covering, including rain sheets, also trap the warmth even if they do flatten the hair.
What really chills the most is the horse being wet out in the cold, especially if it is windy, too. Our mares are out 24x7 and the only time we put anything on them is if it is around freezing and
raining all day...so they will get soaking wet. In that case, we just use waterproof rain sheets and they stay dry and warm. If it is just cold or snowing, they are fine without any covering. For reference, in this part of NC, 20-40F is typical in the winter, a few weeks can be in the 10-20F range, and only a couple snows (Last winter, though, was very unusual with much more snow and much colder and wetter).
As you choose a covering, if any, keep in mind that it is worse to be too warm than too cold. If your horse starts sweating under the covering, not only will it start to chill them, but you create the ideal environment for bacteria/fungus related skin problems (warm, humid, little air flow). As much as it may break your heart, a little shivering in the worst weather is natural and nothing to worry about as long as they have enough forage to eat.