Are my horses freezing?

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Are my horses freezing?

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    11-29-2011, 03:20 PM
Are my horses freezing?

Hello Everyone!

I live in SC, near the mountains, where the climate is pretty mild. We experience only a couple of months of "real winter". My horses stay out in the pasture 24/7 with the exception of feeding time. They grow out big furry coats and they have never seemed uncomfortable in the past (last winter).

I had to move my mares to a new boarding facility after my friends farm was sold. It is a beautiful facility and they take great care of my horses. The only problem is that the pastures does not contain run in sheds, shelters or even trees for a little cover. Last winter, when my horses were kept at my friend's farm, they didn't have shelters either, but they had about 15 acres of forest they could run into for relief from the wind and rain.

It rained all day yesterday. Today it is still raining and a cold front has moved in. It is 40 degrees today and will be 33 degrees tonight. I have been grooming my girls everyday (up until yesterday) and they have begun to grow heavier coats, because it has been getting into the 30's and 40's at night. I am concerned that they are not ready for the cold mixed with rain with no where to go for relief.

I have been told that I shouldn't blanket them, b/c it will stop them from growing the heavy coats they will need for winter pasture life.

Am I being uptight about this? I know they are animals that are adaptable to these types of conditions, but in the wild they can at least try to stand under a tree.

What do you think?

***Please note that I am looking for responses that will make me feel better and not freak me out.
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    11-29-2011, 03:26 PM
You don't have access to stalls when the weather's cold and wet?

I don't blanket my horses, even my 'delicate' TB, and the only time they're in during the winter is when it's cold and raining. Cold and snowing, they stay out. Cold and dry, they stay out. Warm and dry, they stay out. Raining and warm, they stay out.

They can get cold if they get soaking wet, so unless you have a way to get them out of a cold rain, you probably need to buy them at least waterproof sheets. They don't necessarily need blankets, just some way to keep their coats dry.
    11-29-2011, 03:40 PM
I would be concerned that they have no shelter. Do they have hills or anything for a wind break? On a colder day more hay would help keep them warm.

I also wouldn't groom every day. Their coat fluffs up and adds insulation and grooming makes the hair flatter and less insulation. I also wouldn't blanket as I would rather they have a good coat for protection
    11-29-2011, 03:52 PM
Originally Posted by erino49    
I have been told that I shouldn't blanket them, b/c it will stop them from growing the heavy coats they will need for winter pasture life.
This is true. Horses grow their winter coat through mid December. After that they 'maintain'.

FYI - grooming will cause the hair to lie flat and remove the air pockets used to warm the horse. Really cold = don't groom beyond checking hooves.
    11-29-2011, 04:02 PM
OMG! Thank you everyone for telling me not to groom everyday. I had no idea that this wasn't a benefit!!! Uhg. I was under the impression that grooming them everyday would keep their coat healthy, which would benefit them during the ultra cold times. I will put the brushes down!

To answer speedracer's question...They do currently have 3 stalls available, but I cannot afford what they charge for using them. :(

Cherumbeque...Yes there is 1 a hill. It is small, but wide, so hopefully it does the trick.

I don't know if my horses are soaking is still raining. Wouldn't they eventually get soaking wet with no cover?

    11-29-2011, 04:16 PM
What is their access to hay like? Do they have unlimited hay?

Have you noticed them acting cold when you are there?

With plenty of long stem fuel to keep their guts moving which keeps their body warm I am guessing they will do fine.

MFM will stand out in a winter rain storm (when it is in the low 30s and the falling rain is making ice every where) when she has access to a stall and shelter.
    11-29-2011, 04:20 PM
I'm in the Greenville area of SC; so about the same weather as you. My girls are out 24/7 in all weather - in fact they are out there as I type this (and it's a wet, drizzly, cold day). They have the choice of going into the barn but simply don't.

Your horse will be fine. Bonnie had a little shiver this morning since her coat isn't as heavy as the others, but she warned up and she'll be OK.
    11-29-2011, 04:37 PM
Well, they aren't freezing. The trees didn't help them much during the winter, especially from the rain, they were probably in a low lying area that provided shelter from the wind. I wouldn't worry too much since they have always been out. Here it gets down in the teens and sometimes lower and I've had horses out in the elements without cover, they did fine with plenty of round bales to provide a wind break and forage without having to move around and graze. It wasn't ideal, but it's what they had at the time.

Now, how old are your horses? If they are older I would insist on a rain sheet, it gets hard for the older guys to keep up their BT and stay healthy in rain. It's not ideal for any horse to maintain weight and condition in the cooler temps combined with being wet but it's especially hard on them.

You could talk with the facility owners and maybe do an exchange/partial exchange. Build a shelter in leu of board for a few months. An average horse shelter around here runs around $2,500 or less if you do it yourself.
    11-29-2011, 04:52 PM
Don't groom? I think a clean horse is a warm horse. Yes it flattens the hair but being clean also allows the hair to pop right back up again. Dirt & crud will flatten the hairs down & keep them down therefore not allowing the air pockets to form. Clean also helps avoid rain rot.
    11-29-2011, 05:02 PM
Yeah, I'd say the no-grooming thing is a myth. Also a myth is that blanketing a horse will prevent them from growing a coat: it's based on daylight, not body warmth.

In cold, rainy weather....they won't die, but they'll sure be uncomfortable without good shelter or a waterproof blanket.

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