cold weather no blanket - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 35 Old 12-15-2008, 03:45 PM
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As long as the horse has shelter, and doesn't appear to be loosing weight from shivering, his naturally fuzzy coat should be good enough.

I was worried about this too back when I moved my horse from Sunny Tennessee to Temperamental Missouri. I asked my Equine Care professor if I should get my horse a blanket. He had never worn one before and always grew a thick coat in the winter. She told me that as long as I wasn't going to clip him, and as long as he had shelter, he would be fine. She said that the stress of having a blanket put on him for the first time would probably do more harm then leaving the blanket off.

I think you're horse will be fine. Just watch him and see.

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post #22 of 35 Old 12-15-2008, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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So I went out this afternoon around 12 and all the buckets were frozen!! I kicked his in and he was drinking like a mad man. I'm going to make another trip closer to sunset and check him again and add more water. Also his tail was frozen!!! he had pooop mixed with snow frozen and some strands were completely straight!
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post #23 of 35 Old 12-15-2008, 05:05 PM
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sorry if its that cold I would blanket
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post #24 of 35 Old 12-15-2008, 10:02 PM
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We don't blanket. It was 5 this morning around 9 am. The wind chill was -11 at that time. The horses here are furry little creatures.

Are you absolutely sure you wanna mess with my carrots?
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post #25 of 35 Old 12-15-2008, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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I talked to the BO and she said that she would keep an eye on him and if he looked cold, she has a bunch of blankets, she could throw one on him. I don't think I like that idea too much, but I trust that he will be ok. I did bust his water and told her about that. I'm going back tonight on my way home to check again. Thankfully it has been dry since sunday.
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post #26 of 35 Old 12-16-2008, 09:10 AM
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I blanket more for my peace of mind ha. we do have some horses who don't get much of a coat since we are in florida, but it does get cold here on occasion. Some people blanket some don't we have one appy who does not get a winter coat at all, she gets blanketed for sure if its 40 or below
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post #27 of 35 Old 12-16-2008, 09:15 AM
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There is an old expression that the definition of a sweater is what a mother makes her kid put on when she's cold.

I think that is why many of us blanket a horse that doesn't need one.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

It's not always what you say but what they hear.
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post #28 of 35 Old 12-17-2008, 12:26 PM
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This is an interesting article that my friend sent me:

How Horses Cope With Cold
by Heather Smith Thomas

Horses readily adapt to winter weather. Cold temperature in itself is
not a problem for a horse if he's had a chance to prepare gradually
by growing a winter coat as fall temperatures drop. Wind and wet
weather are the factors that can chill a horse. In windy regions,
horses need some type of shelter to protect against the wind chill
that can whip away body heat.

Horses handle cold weather better than humans do; equines evolved in
the cold climates of northern Europe and Asia. Their natural "comfort
zone" (energy-neutral temperature zone, in which they don't need to
expend extra energy to maintain normal body temperature if weather is
not wet or windy) is from about 15 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The
horse's body is better at creating and conserving heat in cold
weather than dissipating it in hot weather.

As fall changes to winter, the horse's body undergoes a series of
physiological changes, some of which actually begin long before the
first frosts. As soon as the days start to shorten in midsummer, the
horse begins to grow a new hair coat, more dense than his summer
hair. As you brush and groom him in late summer you'll notice he's
shedding some of his short summer hair. His metabolism begins to
change also, enabling him to store more fat for insulation and for
energy reserves. A layer of fat under the skin makes it more
difficult for heat to escape from the body, and protects against cold
weather. The layer of fat needs little energy to maintain, and has
few blood vessels. The surface vessels that radiate heat in summer
draw back deeper in winter.

As soon as nights start getting cold, his body begins to change, even
if the days are still quite warm. If you are working a horse hard,
you will notice that he does not dissipate heat as well as he did
earlier in the summer; he may sweat more, and his sweat may start to
have some smell to it, more like the sweat of an unconditioned horse.

He grows thicker hair as part of his protection against winter cold,
but if he is blanketed to prevent this extra hair growth, or clipped,
he won't do well outside during winter storms. Clipping makes it
easier to cool out and groom a horse that is being ridden or worked
in winter, but it's not wise to clip a horse that will have to spend
time outdoors. If he does have a good winter coat, don't blanket him
or bring him into the barn just because of foul weather. Horses
prefer being outdoors even in the coldest weather and do fine if they
have some kind of windbreak, or a run-in shed to get out of driving
snow or rain. A horse in good condition with a good hair coat is
usually better off outdoors. Make sure horses go into winter with
adequate body condition. A thin horse won't winter as well as a fat
one. Horses should never be too fat, but they need enough for a good
insulating layer under the skin.

Long winter hair traps a layer of warm body heat between the skin and
the cold air. When it's cold, tiny muscles in the skin make the hair
stand up fluffy, increasing the insulating effect, and blood vessels
near the skin constrict, conserving body heat by keeping the blood
closer to the warm interior of the body, not allowing heat to escape
from blood vessels near the skin surface.

A normal winter hair coat is much more insulating than most horse
blankets. Adding a heavy blanket or piling on several light blankets
can actually make a horse colder because it flattens out his hair and
destroys the insulating effect. Blanketing may be necessary, however,
for a clipped horse, or for one moved north during winter without a
chance to grow a heavy coat, or a horse forced to stand outside in a
winter storm without a windbreak. If a horse becomes so wet and cold
he has to shiver to maintain body temperature, he'll burn more
calories and need extra feed, or he'll start losing weight. Under
those conditions, he'd be better off indoors or blanketed.

Horses have a normal body temperature of about 100 degrees Farenheit
(38 degrees Celcius). They maintain this temperature in cold weather
with the help of several mechanisms which include shivering, changes
in hormone levels, increased body metabolism, increased digestion of
fiber (adding more fiber or more protein to the diet can help a horse
keep warm, since digestion of these nutrients produce heat), growing
longer and thicker hair which can stand up on the skin to make a
layer of insulating air pockets, increased feed consumption, and
increased activity. Cold horses on a frosty morning often run and
buck to warm up.

A well fed horse can manage at temperatures down to 30 or even 40
below zero Farenheit if there's no wind and he's not wet. Wind
ruffles the hair and destroys its insulating quality. The downward
direction in which the hair grows (along with the oil glands that
waterproof the hair) help keep a horse dry in rain and snow. The
density of the hair coat and the directions in which the hair grows
make such a good overcoat that snow can form ice on the outer surface
of this coat without the skin becoming chilled.

It takes a lot of moisture on the hair coat before the dampness soaks
through to the skin, since most of the water runs off. Once a horse
gets wet, however, he may chill. A wet horse loses body heat up to 20
times faster than a dry horse, because the moisture flattens out the
hair and eliminates the air spaces between the hairs, greatly
reducing the insulating effect. Even a warm winter storm (rain
instead of snow, or snow that immediately melts) can be hard on a
horse, if he gets soaked and then gets chilled by dropping
temperatures before he has a chance to dry off.

His best defense against cold are a long coat and a layer of fat just
beneath the skin; both of these help reduce loss of body heat. Most
wild animals go into winter fatter than they are at other times of
year; this is nature's way to protect them against cold and give them
some reserves for energy and body heat. Long winter hair is the first
line of defense, but its insulating quality is lost if the horse is
wet or covered with mud.

It's important that a horse have shelter during wet weather. A horse
will rarely take shelter from cold, but he will try to get away from
rain or driving snow. Horses prefer the warmth of winter sun to a
shady shed. If an outdoor horse's coat gets muddy, groom him to keep
it from being matted down.

Humans tend to get frostbitten toes and noses in severely cold
weather, but horses rarely suffer frostbite. The horse's blunt muzzle
is so richly supplied with blood that it can withstand extreme cold
without freezing. His long nasal passages with their bone spirals and
air pouch (which he also uses for snorting and whistling when he
blows air through it) help warm the cold air before it reaches his

A horse's feet and legs are constructed in such a way that they can
withstand extreme cold without discomfort or damage, even when
standing in deep snow. His slender legs are just bone and tendons
below the knees and hocks, requiring much less circulation than
muscles, and are thus less susceptible to frostbite. This allows them
to handle extended exposure to cold and snow with no ill effects. The
cells in bones and tendons need less blood for maintenance and they
also lose less heat. The horse is able to shunt most of the blood
away from his feet and still have a very functional foot. When the
feet start to get cold, the shunts open up so that the blood flows
from the smallest arteries directly into the veins without having to
pass through the smaller capillaries.

If the horse gets cold, the blood vessels in his skin constrict to
minimize heat loss, and the hair shafts stand on end for better
insulating. If he continues to be cold, he starts to shiver, with his
muscles rapidly contracting and relaxing--which quickly raises his
metabolism rate and amount of fuel burned in the muscles. With his
large blocks of muscle, the horse can shiver much more readily and
more comfortably than a human. Since most of this muscle action is
being converted to heat, this is a very effective way to warm
himself. It takes a great deal of energy, however, to shiver for a
prolonged period; this can use up his energy stores.

The horse has several other unique features that enable him to cope
with winter. He is less vulnerable to snowblindness than a human,
since his horizontal pupils can close more tightly than our round
ones, filtering out more of the damaging ultraviolet light. His thick
eyelashes protect his eyes from winter wind and extremely cold
temperatures. If the wind blows, he instinctively turns his back to
it. This protects his thin-skinned face and neck, which have more
surface blood vessels. His rump and back have thicker skin and hair,
and less surface blood vessels, and can withstand the wind better. He
uses his tail to protect his more delicate underparts. His mane and
forelock give waterproof protection for head and neck. Horses in
groups stand close together to block the wind, and thus benefit from
each others' body warmth. With a chance to prepare himself for cold
weather, the horse can be quite comfortable and happy outdoors in

:: Karley ::
Tucker WB/TB- 11 yr
Speedy QH/TB- 22 yr
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post #29 of 35 Old 12-17-2008, 12:47 PM
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karley thanks for that...

I dont like blanketing, my girls grow a lot of winter hair and never seem to struggle with weight or anything. They always have some form of wind break though (either stall or run-in). I dont like blankets because it seems like once you start using them you should keep them on all winter to avoid them from getting chilled.

I will blanket if Im trying to shed my horse for spring shows or to avoid hair growth for fall shows, but it doesnt take long for them to get it growing

It's not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.
- Paul "Bear" Bryant (Former college football coach)
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post #30 of 35 Old 12-17-2008, 04:23 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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hey thanks for posting that!! Ya i went out there and he is doing just fine. Only problem is that he LOVES to stand in the rain/snow, so hopefully he will be smart enough to go in his stall when he feels cold lol.

thanks again everyone for all the advice!
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