To blanket or not to blanket? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 12-20-2012, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Question To blanket or not to blanket?

So I just need some real quick advice about tonight.

It rained today-- like, seriously rained-- and didn't stop until about 3 or 4. The sun even came out for a little bit. Unfortunately, behind this rain was a windy cold front that is supposed to put temps into the 20s and 30s with the wind chill. My mare has hardly any winter coat (she's the oldest at 18) but my geldings are fluffy. They're all a little damp in places, but not soaking all over. I know you're not supposed to blanket when they're wet, but I'm worried about them, especially my mare. They have a run in shelter, but one of the geldings is a bully and takes up the whole shed to himself (I'm going to put in a divider to make "stalls" this weekend when my husband is off work to help). I happen to have 2 blankets for my mare, one that's really thin and not well insulated and a thicker "Tought-1" brand that is slightly too big for her.

Any thoughts? Any advice I could get before I go to bed in 2 hours would be appreciated. Thanks!!

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post #2 of 12 Old 12-20-2012, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by musicalmarie1 View Post
So I just need some real quick advice about tonight.

It rained today-- like, seriously rained-- and didn't stop until about 3 or 4. The sun even came out for a little bit. Unfortunately, behind this rain was a windy cold front that is supposed to put temps into the 20s and 30s with the wind chill. My mare has hardly any winter coat (she's the oldest at 18) but my geldings are fluffy. They're all a little damp in places, but not soaking all over. I know you're not supposed to blanket when they're wet, but I'm worried about them, especially my mare. They have a run in shelter, but one of the geldings is a bully and takes up the whole shed to himself (I'm going to put in a divider to make "stalls" this weekend when my husband is off work to help). I happen to have 2 blankets for my mare, one that's really thin and not well insulated and a thicker "Tought-1" brand that is slightly too big for her.

Any thoughts? Any advice I could get before I go to bed in 2 hours would be appreciated. Thanks!!
If your mare has trouble holding her weight or is on the thinner side, then I'd blanket to cut the wind and keep her warm. She's getting to the age where she might need it. If she's on the plump side, I wouldn't, she'll burn a few calories to stay warm but will be fine. My rule of thumb is, if they're fat they're fine, thin I blanket, wet, I put towels under the blanket and blanket. Dry and windy is OK, wet and warm is OK, dry and cold is mostly OK, wet and cold and wet and windy, not OK. If they can't get their hair to stand up and make the 'air buffer' between them and the cold air outside, then they need help, whether it's because they're wet or just because they haven't grown a coat.

I have a QH who is a yak, a Paint who is as thin skinned as any of my Arabs and Arabs who look thin skinned but aren't. You just kind of have to go off your gut.

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post #3 of 12 Old 12-20-2012, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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I think I'm going to leave them off my geldings because they have decent winter coats. I'm just worried about my mare. This is the first year that she hasn't gotten a decent coat in time for the cold weather-- she was fighting off an eye infection for a while so that might have had something to do with it.

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post #4 of 12 Old 12-20-2012, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by musicalmarie1 View Post
I think I'm going to leave them off my geldings because they have decent winter coats. I'm just worried about my mare. This is the first year that she hasn't gotten a decent coat in time for the cold weather-- she was fighting off an eye infection for a while so that might have had something to do with it.
It certainly won't hurt her to blanket.

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post #5 of 12 Old 12-20-2012, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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Just went out to go check on them, and they're all warm and dry under their blankets, so I'm going to quit worrying about the blanket issue. Now I just need to worry about the dominant gelding chasing away my new pony :P

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post #6 of 12 Old 12-20-2012, 10:38 PM
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I am a huge no blanket advocate, but some horses do need help staying warm in the winter. If you're mare just doesn't have the coat for the weather, I'd blanket her. Under the heavy one for now, then maybe the lighter one if the weather gets warmer again. Make sure you dry her off really well first, I'm sure it's super uncomfortable to have wet fur under a blanket.


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post #7 of 12 Old 12-20-2012, 10:38 PM
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Just went out to go check on them, and they're all warm and dry under their blankets, so I'm going to quit worrying about the blanket issue. Now I just need to worry about the dominant gelding chasing away my new pony :P
LOL, give it a week. My $$$$ is on the pony. They can be some serious little schyjt meisters!

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post #8 of 12 Old 12-20-2012, 11:10 PM
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It depends, on what the others said, and if the horses have a place to shelter from the wind and plenty to eat, all night long.
our horses are used to being out, and get rained on all the time. And the wind blows, too. They find a little valley or the lee of a tree or in the lee of the shed. And, they eat and move around. ONly the very old need blankets.

I think if you have one of those blankets that are supposed to be "breathable" you can put them on the damp horse, but put some towels, or handfuls of hay /straw to lift the blanket off the back to that air flows in there and hleps it dry better.

I think our horses are usually not as uncomfortable as we think when we are cold. Their fur is pretty amazing.
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post #9 of 12 Old 12-21-2012, 01:47 AM
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If mine are damp I'll put a wicking cooler on them first then the blanket and stick some hay up under it for a bit and leave the horses in the cross ties for a bit for the hay to dry them up a bit. My older one is blow dry proof though and I've done that before.
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post #10 of 12 Old 12-21-2012, 10:15 PM
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I just replied to another blanket thread with this, but here it is again since it is interesting.


Here is some information on winter blanketing that may surprise you. This is the result of a multi-year study done by CSU, using state of the art thermal detection equipment. Colorado State University is widely considered to be one of the top three equine veterinary schools in the country: Blanketing horses is one of the worst things that you can do to a horse in the winter. Horses have the ability to loft and lower their coats to 17 different levels, so it's like exchanging 17 different thermal weights of blankets off and on them all day and night, depending on what they need- except that we don't know what they need as well as they do. Their 'self-blanketing' process works a little like 'chill bumps' do in our own skin. That's why long-haired horses may seem fluffier on some days than on others. Only three things make the 'self-blanketing' process not work: blanketing, clipping, and wind. Not even snow or rain stops their own thermostats from doing the job. Also horses are in 'neutral' (meaning not using energy for either heating or cooling) when the air around them is between 26 and 38 degrees. Otherwise, they're using energy to control their temps. So- since they're cooling their bodies when the temp is over 38 degrees, they're having to use extra energy to cool themselves when blanketed in temperatures o! ver that. Any time a horsethat is outside and has a long coat is shivering, it's because the horse has opted to shiver to warm itself, instead of using the option of moving. Moving generates a considerable amount of heat for a horse, but they sometimes stand and shiver while napping, etc. It does not mean that they need to be blanketed. However- a horse MUST have a way to get out of the wind in order for their 'self-blanketing' abilities to function fully. It turns out that blanketing is done more for pleasing the human, than to fill a need of the horse. The horse blanket industry has done a great job of making us think that their product is a necessary part of good horse keeping- when it is actually an item that is very seldom needed.

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