I need advice: blanketing elderly horse for N Illinios winters?
   

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I need advice: blanketing elderly horse for N Illinios winters?

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    09-22-2012, 04:13 PM
  #1
Yearling
I need advice: blanketing elderly horse for N Illinios winters?

I would like some help on the do's and don'ts of blanketing for a northern Illinios winter. I am currently looking for a waterproof sheet, med and heavy weight turnout blankets for my 24 yo Arab mare this winter as she does not hold her weight well anymore.

I already started her on her winter feeding program in an effort to build up a little extra fat before the weather really decides to turn bad.

One issue is that she gets to a certain body score really easily. I would consider this a good weight for her, as I can feel her ribs but not see them and she has good fatty coverage in her chest/butt/between her legs etc... I would prefer that she get a little more weight on just because, but no matter what I feed her, she plateaus at that weight and won't get any fatter.

She had her teeth floated last spring (Had to have a tooth removed as the tooth above it had grown too long and pushed this one out of the way. It wasn't rotten, none of her teeth were.) and had them checked again this spring. Vet said she was good and to check again next spring.

She loses weight in winter, but also plateaus at a certain point and doesn't get any skinnier. She isn't emaciated at all, but ribs can be seen and her rump is noticably lean. She gets warm mash of her special feed twice a day and good quality hay four times a day in amounts that take her almost until the next feeding to finish.

I would really feel a lot better if she didn't lose the weight this year so I am blanketing. We get a lot of wet and windy out here, which just makes her shiver a ton, even in the shelter.

So, my question is, at what temps/time of day/conditions should the different weight blankets be used?
     
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    09-22-2012, 04:19 PM
  #2
Yearling
This was her in March. I'd like to avoid this.

DSCN0057.jpg
And this is her now. I'd like a bit more weight, but she just stops at this point...
Thelma4.jpg
     
    09-22-2012, 04:45 PM
  #3
Green Broke
I suppose if you strongly feel you need to blanket her, that's a decision that's only for you to make as no one knows another's horse better than the owner! She looks like she has a good fuzzy coat, however! The main thing to keep in mind is, it's not a matter of "fattening her up for the winter", but during winter months, (and boy do we get blasted up here!), it's plenty of free choice hay available that will keep her warm. Hay distributed continually through her digestestion acts as the "fuel" that will give her the warmth she needs, and it's not a one-time fattening up for the winter (such as a bear), but a constant steady amount each day.
     
    09-22-2012, 04:57 PM
  #4
Yearling
I have already decided to blanket her. I was asking about the hows and whens of it. :)

I understand that she needs continuous feeding. However, what I meant was that I started her winter feed early in an effort to get her a little head start rather than getting her on it at the end of Oct/Nov. Depending on the weather.

It is a mash of Triple Crown senior feed, beet pulp, flaxseed oil, MSM and Glucosamine joint supplements. I use high quality feeds at regulated rates (adjusted to how she holds her weight) and she gets almost unlimited hay.

I feed hay in the early morning and late afternoon at the same time that my mare gets her mashes. My BO feeds twice in between those times so she is without hay for maybe two hours a day total.
     
    09-22-2012, 05:13 PM
  #5
Green Broke
Sounds like she'll have a comfortable winter, and a well-laid feed plan! :)
     
    09-22-2012, 05:26 PM
  #6
Super Moderator
Lacey does the same thing. I totes know. Old Arabian ladies! Gee.


With Lacey, I've found that pretty much, if I'm cold enough to need a coat, she is too. That's not a great rule of thumb for most horses but it's what works the best with Lacey.
Anyway, so I usually blanket her with a lightweight blanket on nights that I know will hit the low 50's or 40's. If I'm not sure, I might leave her unblanketed but then the next day when I check her and her flank area looks a little "tucked up" or "tight" I know it got too cold for her so I'll check the weather, find out what the night before's low was and generally blanket her the next night if the low is similar.
Then, for midweight/heavy weight blankets, if I'm wearing a sweatshirt+a light coat (usually around 50*-ish if it's raining, 45*-ish if it's not precipitating) and am still slightly chilly, I generally figure it's time for a MW. For HW, if I'm wearing my heaviest coat (starting usually around 32* and lower), I know it's time for the HW.

My other rule of thumb is that before changing blankets, after bringing L in from the pasture, I'll stick my arm under the blanket. If it's toasty under there but not SUPER hot, I know she's correctly blanketed. If the air under the blanket is cold or only somewhat warm, I'll step up to the next blanket.
The other thing I look at is her fur that was under the blanket. If the blanket comes off and her fur is looking really slick, I know that she was either too hot or perfect (that's why I use this method+sticking my arm under the blanket together). If her fur is at all fluffed under the blanket, she got/is too cold and needs a heavier blanket.

It's a bit unorthodox but it works for us. I've never had L sweat under a blanket or get too cold (except for once when she was only wearing a sheet and it unexpectedly dropped down to 29* overnight AND snowed, IN APRIL) so I'd say it works pretty well.

Basically, Lacey has her "tells" and I'm sure Thelma does too. Once you learn what Thelma's are, it'll be the easiest thing in the world. :)
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    09-22-2012, 07:52 PM
  #7
Green Broke
Wowzer does she look like the twin to my 26 yo Arab! They sure look like they can be related. I can't get over they are identical in build and have those same wonderful big feet my Walking Horses wish they had

The only difference is he only has a star and his has a left rear sock with the Mark Of Allah on the coronet band.

I never blanketed horses until last winter. I am in southern Middle Tennessee but we still get days that are cold/damp/blustery and don't get out of the 30's.

The 25 yo TWH has equine metabolic syndrome with hind gut ulcers and lipomas in the GI tract. The 26 yo Arab has four molars missing, gastric ulcers, and an injured vertebra that came with him when I rescued him 19 years ago.

Blanketing has helped my two mid-20's fellas on those kinds of days as both are now on the hard keeping end of the scale. They don't have to burn calories to stay warm and both of them really seem to like wearing their "coats". Neither one has ever tried to rub on a post to get them off.

I prefer the Weatherbeeta water proof blankets because they are very reasonably priced and have the shoulder gussets to allow for more freedom of movement.

My fellas were out on 22 acres (with some trees here and there) all day long last year and never tore them up. Not even when they rolled. They only wore the blankets on the most blustery and cold/damp days. If the sun was out, I did not blanket them.

The most important things will be to buy the correct size and get all the straps adjusted correctly so your doll face can't get her hooves caught when she kicks at a fly or rolls

She looks about the size of my Arab and is built exactly the same. Streeter is 13.3H. If she's close I can look at his blanket and see what size it is. Naturally I can't remember
     
    09-23-2012, 12:23 PM
  #8
Banned
I don't blanket when I wear a jacket myself, I am a wuss and wear one early in winter. I blanket when I can feel that biting chill, when my ears are cold. :)
     
    09-26-2012, 01:05 AM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallaby    
Lacey does the same thing. I totes know. Old Arabian ladies! Gee.


With Lacey, I've found that pretty much, if I'm cold enough to need a coat, she is too. That's not a great rule of thumb for most horses but it's what works the best with Lacey.
Anyway, so I usually blanket her with a lightweight blanket on nights that I know will hit the low 50's or 40's. If I'm not sure, I might leave her unblanketed but then the next day when I check her and her flank area looks a little "tucked up" or "tight" I know it got too cold for her so I'll check the weather, find out what the night before's low was and generally blanket her the next night if the low is similar.
Then, for midweight/heavy weight blankets, if I'm wearing a sweatshirt+a light coat (usually around 50*-ish if it's raining, 45*-ish if it's not precipitating) and am still slightly chilly, I generally figure it's time for a MW. For HW, if I'm wearing my heaviest coat (starting usually around 32* and lower), I know it's time for the HW.

My other rule of thumb is that before changing blankets, after bringing L in from the pasture, I'll stick my arm under the blanket. If it's toasty under there but not SUPER hot, I know she's correctly blanketed. If the air under the blanket is cold or only somewhat warm, I'll step up to the next blanket.
The other thing I look at is her fur that was under the blanket. If the blanket comes off and her fur is looking really slick, I know that she was either too hot or perfect (that's why I use this method+sticking my arm under the blanket together). If her fur is at all fluffed under the blanket, she got/is too cold and needs a heavier blanket.

It's a bit unorthodox but it works for us. I've never had L sweat under a blanket or get too cold (except for once when she was only wearing a sheet and it unexpectedly dropped down to 29* overnight AND snowed, IN APRIL) so I'd say it works pretty well.

Basically, Lacey has her "tells" and I'm sure Thelma does too. Once you learn what Thelma's are, it'll be the easiest thing in the world. :)
sounds like you have it figured out perfectly..... I feel the same way...if I need extra clothes for wrmth, then so do my horses!
     
    09-26-2012, 04:53 AM
  #10
Started
I remember having to rug up my 25yo tb and mums 22yo arab mare, it gets cold here, but it doesn't snow or anything.

What I found was exactly what Wallaby does with Lacey, everything.

I found what was really good to have on hand was either a polar fleece rug, or a wollen rug, just incase. I would use one thick winter rug with a detachable neck rug on my old girl, and during the thick of winter I would have two on her, and she was like a lil fuzzy bear with her coat, but she still needed a hand.

I liked the detachable neckrugs on her in particular because if it was a sunny day, but still chilly, I could just take the neckrug off her to let her have some sun, without getting cold.

The only thing I would say with blanketing your mare, is check, all the time, and take it off atleast once a day to give her a quick brush over and air out her and the rug over a gate or something for half an hour.

--If by chance she gets wet before you get a rug on her (assuming you are using synthetics not wool lined canvas) then the polar fleece is a lifesaver for that, I used to get a big beach towel and surcingle it to my mare over her back, then put the polar fleece on, then put the synthetic on until she dried and I could take off the towel and polar fleece. Because it's not recomended to put a synthetic rug on a wet horse. (I went out on a few occasions into the paddock in the howling wind and pouring rain, laden with bath towels and rugs)

The one other thing you will probably always want, is a spare, god only knows how many times I've had to swap to a spare rug because Bubbles had rolled in the mud and managed to get the inside of her rug wet and cold.

-I lost my mare in april last year, her old heart just gave out on her one autumn morning and she passed in my arms, I still have her favorite rug. She wouldn't have made it through that next winter without a lot of assistance anyway, it snowed here, and it has never, ever, snowed, ever. So I am thankful she passed on a sunny morning with me beside her. <3
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