Mare looking -bad- during winter... would a blanket help? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 02-14-2010, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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Mare looking -bad- during winter... would a blanket help?

The last few winters have been pretty bad on my mare… I don’t really ride much in winter anymore, and am heading towards not riding at all during the colder months… but regardless of whether I ride or not, no matter if I’m feeding grain and they have hay or not, my mare has a terrible time in winter.

Last winter wasn’t -that- bad, but this winter has been horrible. It’s colder this winter than it was last winter, and my girl lost all the fat she had on her body -fast-. She’s lost weight, muscle, and looks -bad- in my opinion… Not neglected bad, but more like… well, just not cared for. And she is cared for.

I’m wanting to buy her a winter turnout blanket this year… before next winter… since this winter is almost over, I don’t see any reason to buy one right now (and right now I don’t have the money)… So with three seasons (Spring, Summer, and Autumn) to look, maybe I can find a good deal or something… but I also don’t want to buy a blanket if it’s not going to help.

I know nothing about the different types of blankets and all, so could someone help me out here? Knowing me, I’d buy some sort of summer sheet or something, thinking it was a winter blanket… Lol. I'd be looking for something that would help her keep warm, but something that doesn't cost a whole, whole lot and is 'easy maintenance' and durable.

Here’s how my girl normally looks when she’s at a good weight and all… (well, she usually has more weight on her than that… but that’s about in the norm)

And here’s how she looks now… (her winter coat is all grungy feeling and I can feel her ribs easily, though I can only see a vague outline them if I look at her a certain way)

Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding), Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding) & Harlow (9 y/o APHA mare)
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post #2 of 23 Old 02-14-2010, 03:09 PM
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A blanket should help her out a bit. If she's better insulated, more of the energy she consumes can go to keeping weight rather than keeping warm. Free choice hay is great, too, if she isn't already getting all the good hay she can eat.

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #3 of 23 Old 02-14-2010, 03:13 PM
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...agreed. A blanket will help out some. How old is she?

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post #4 of 23 Old 02-14-2010, 03:50 PM
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Yes, a blanket will absolutely help her out. It will not only help with energy saving (as mentioned above), but it will also help her want to drink more water in colder weather which is a problem with older horses and hard keepers.

I know how frustrating it is, I have the same problem with my guy, I try so hard to take care of him, but he looks totally neglected in terms of overall weight because he is just such a hard keeper. A good blanket helped us a lot this winter but he's still thin.
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post #5 of 23 Old 02-14-2010, 04:06 PM
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I definitely think a blanket would help her out. I had a similar problem with Lacey last year, she wasn't blanketed and by this time of the winter she just looked awful. This year I blanketed her around October and have kept her blanketed since and she looks SO much better right now. She doesn't look as great as she does in the summer but she doesn't look as ancient as she did last year.

I got Lacey a midweight blanket because it doesn't get super cold here. I don't remember all the ins and outs of what weight is for what temperature but I'd say that you definitely don't want a lightweight blanket. The blanket I ended up getting for Lacey is a midweight Weatherbeeta landa freestyle. The one thing I don't like about it is that it's only 600 denier (how strong the outer cloth is, 600 is about the "weakest," the most sturdy you can probably easily find is 1200 denier but that will be more expensive) so she's ripped it pretty well a few times. However, I'm pretty handy at sewing so it's more of an inconvience to sew it back up (which really isn't hard at all).
My BO has this blanket for her horses and I'm totally not a fan. ALL the straps have been ripped off of them within a month or being worn by her horses. Lacey wore one for about a week while I was fixing her blanket and she tore both back leg straps off of it within that week. Her normal blanket has back leg straps too but they are still fully intact after continual October to now wearing.
Basically, you get what you pay for. I bought Lacey's blanket in August/September and I was able to get it for around $70 when normally it's around $120. I had to do a bunch of searching but I found it. =D Also, what I found super helpful was posting a thread and posting what blankets I was considering and getting suggestions as to better blankets for my money. It saved me from buying my first two choices which turned out to be super cheapo blankets that fall apart within months.

Good luck! And sorry for writing you a novel...Haha

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #6 of 23 Old 02-14-2010, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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That’s what I was thinking, that it’ll help keep her warmer and will help her keep her weight on, but I wasn’t sure if I was right or not...

And I knew I forgot something... lol.
She’s 16 (well, she’ll be on April 18th)... She’s pastured with a donkey, a mule, four other horses, and around twenty cows.
She and my gelding are the only two animals in the pasture that are on a deworming schedule (they’re due to be dewormed again next month)
She gets free choice hay (though it’s not good quality, as my uncles buy it and they really don’t care about quality... they’d rather have quantity over quality)
I normally don’t feed grain very much, but during winter I feed both my horses soaked Alfalfa pellets (she gets two and a half pounds once a day).

It is frustrating... it’s only been these last three/four winters that have really been a problem... And I -hate- my horses looking like they’re not taken care of. My gelding is -fat- for winter... lol... and the other horses are in good shape, it’s just my girl that’s thin.

Um... can someone help me with the blanket types and all... I know absolutely nothing, couldn't even tell you the name of one... what should I be looking for, ideally?

Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding), Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding) & Harlow (9 y/o APHA mare)
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post #7 of 23 Old 02-14-2010, 04:44 PM
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The blanket that I use is Rider's International Northwind Medium Weight Turnout.

NorthWind Medium Weight Turnout Blanket - Dover Saddlery.

There's the link.

I think the best part is that it has a two year warrenty on it. If it gets any rips or tears, just return it and you get a brand new blanket no questions asked. It's great. No problems with it so far and my horse has not ripped it off or gotten any tears in it. The surprising thing is that his pasture mates are really rough on his blankets, you can see where they grabbed a hold of his blanket and tried to tear it. But no tears, just a few punctures that have not messed with the waterproofing. Great blanket!

When you look for blankets, look for a high denier 1200 or more. The Northwind is 1680. I use a medium weight throughout the whole winter here in MD. We got down to temps as low as 15 on some nights and he stayed warm. Also, look for the word turnout blanket. Most of the time it means this is for outdoor use and not in a stable. Avoid anything that says Stable Blanket because they are not waterproof and will get soaked if used outside when it's raining. This will make your horse cold and he will shiver. I also like to have shoulder gussets because it gives more room for movement if they get frisky. I also like the fleece protection at the whithers because it cuts back a little bit on hair lose in their mane. A nice feature are clip and dee closures on the front buckles so it is easy to get it off when your hands are frozen from the cold.

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Last edited by JadedEyes; 02-14-2010 at 04:52 PM.
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post #8 of 23 Old 02-14-2010, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info! I'll keep that blanket in mind... I read up a little on blankets a little while ago and I'm going to have to get a higher denier... My mare doesn't really run around or anything, but the other horses... three of them are young-ish (a coming three year old, an almost four year old, and a nine year old who has a three year old mentality... and they're rough and like to chew on things when my back is turned... Lol.

Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding), Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding) & Harlow (9 y/o APHA mare)
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post #9 of 23 Old 02-14-2010, 11:10 PM
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I have blanketed my 31 yr old appy for the past 2 winters as I noticed my easy keeper suddenly late summer was not looking fat anymore. I use a lightweight, a medium weight, and a heavyweight depending on the temps. I live in Kansas and the temps in winter tend to go up and down. Might be nice during the day and very cold at night. OR bitter for several days.

Blanketing a horse who does not have an adequate fat over his ribs will definately help. Also you may want to feed more hay substitute since your hay is not a good quality.

I feed Alfalfa pellets and beet pulp to all my horses in winter as I do not feed grain at all. The younguns don't get more than 1/2 a large coffee can at a feeding. Cheno, the appy, gets as much of that as he will eat as well as from 4-12# a day of an extruded feed called Total Equine. I very much recommend this feed if you can get it. It's fed at a minimum of 2# 2x a day if needed at all. You can feed up to 12+ a day if your horse is not able to eat/digest their hay well. Cheno has few teeth and I also chop some hay for him daily. Mainly to keep him busy..

Be sure you check on your horses body condition frequently when you blanket so you do not get a shock.

I buy on ebay, usually from the store called Horselovers. My denier is not what the others recommend, but my gelding is not out in pasture with others. He's in a stall with a run by himself as he is blind as well. None of my straps have broken and none have ripped either. I think I spent around $50 each for the heavier ones. McAlister brand is one, I forget the other.. They seem to be doing a great job for Cheno.

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post #10 of 23 Old 02-15-2010, 09:11 AM
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yes blankets help if they are fitted right. can be hazards if not.

but i think your bigger problem is nutrition. poor quality hay doesn't cut it for winter time. she is not getting basic nutrition needs met, and the cold is using up what she does get. it's good that you are adding alfalfa pellets, but she needs more. feeding the pellets AND a complete senior feed will help a lot. she will need lots of it. it's complete, meaning it includes fine chopped hay, so the volume you feed is greater. probably similar to what Appyt said above. you can feed 12# a day, but work up to it. don't feed a lot at first.

also if the others are not wormed, you need to be worming her every single month and rotate types of wormer. otherwise you are only feeding the worms, and they aren't worth the price of feed!!

just some thoughts that might help you. and how good a shelter does she have from wind and wet? that makes a huge difference in how much body reserves they burn up to stay warm.
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