Preping your horse for winter questions?? Blanket?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 07-23-2009, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Question Preping your horse for winter questions?? Blanket??

Hey friends,
I have not owned a horse where it snows. I now have moved my horse from sea level to about 4700 ft above sea level.

Some winters here can be very dry and cold, and also very wet with snow, it just depends on mother nature.
I know this area is ready for a really heavy winter as it has been quite a few years.

Anyway. My horse was previously in an area where the temps could go below the freeze temp, but it is not a snow area.

So I am wondering what I might do in order to prepare him for winter. A blanket is a must have here as the valley where he is boarded is notorious for some heavy snow and wind

Right now he is in a paddock with a shelter that has 3 sides. His old home was a 40 x 40 with a shelter but it had no sides.

I expect his coat to grow some which will help but being that he has never wintered here, I have planned if I need to to have him brought into the barn where he would have a stall with a paddock and then he could have shavings etc. But if I do that it will cost me a lot more money and if it is at all possible I would like him to stay in his current set up...I could possibly put shavings in his shelter.

Besides getting the blanket is there anything else I might want to purchase or be aware of???

It is not like he is the first horse I have ever had, but the first for this type of weather.

Funny I am thinking that far ahead as it is over 100 here

Any suggestions and advice would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, and how do you know what size blanket to get?

It can sometimes get down to 0 in the winter time. Does not happen that often but it can
What blanket type is your preference??
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post #2 of 19 Old 07-23-2009, 07:41 PM
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I would wait as long as possible to start putting a blanket on him. That will help him grow a coat and acclimate himself to the winter. He shouldn't have to come inside, unless he gets too cold or doesn't grow enough of a coat. You can also look into his breed and see what it says about him. Some horses are better suited for hot weather, some cold, some high altitudes. Finding out what he is suited for can help you figure out how to prepare him.

If you have the set up, you can put a heat lamp in his shelter.

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
riccil0ve is offline  
post #3 of 19 Old 07-23-2009, 07:53 PM
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Kudos, Halfpass, for tackling this before there's 3 ft of snow on the ground.

I don't blanket unless we have a really cold spell. But, my guys get positively beastie coats and are always warm to the touch when you worm your fingers into the hair. Since your horse dosn't sound like he's quite that used to harder winters, I would definitely say blanket him, waiting until he really needs it, like riccil0ve said. His coat will actually get a little better every season, or so every "transplant" horse I've ever met has.

A couple of blankets for different temps would be best (also, wash the heavyweight when he can wear the midweight, and versy-vicey), but if 2 aren't possible, I would go for a turnout style blanket, midweight (he may be a bit chilly if there's a brief temp crash, but he won't sweat and chill, which can be worse than just being cold). They're made of tougher stuff and are more waterproof. Many are designed for greater freedom of movement as well. To measure, take a tape measure and go from the center of his chest to the center of his tail, keeping the tape around the widest parts of his shoulders and hindquarters. The number of inches is the size you need. If you fall between sizes, round up one. If you do need to round up one, I like to cross-buckle the front fastenings. That takes up a surprising amount of extra space. A good fit is really worth it, though, esp. since he's turned out.

I LOVE my electric water bucket. As far as cost, it adds about as much to the electric bill as running a lightbulb the same amount of time. If you have a way to hook one up, they're awesome.

Be sure to check his feet often, my guys get snowballs in their "feathers" after turnout that can be really cold if they stay hanging in their hair. I usually end up snipping the longest "curl" off by January to be done with that. Some with lots of whiskers can get little iceballs there, too. We also remove shoes for the winter, my klutzes would kill themselves on the ice in shoes.

Other than that, make sure that his shelter doesn't let drafts in. Horses can take quite a bit of cold as long as they can get out of the wind if they want.

Hope that answered some of your questions!

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 #4 of 19 Old 07-23-2009, 08:33 PM
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In my experience, the more natural you let them be, the better they fare. I wouldn't worry at all about a barn, when it gets cold the worst thing you can do is stall a horse. They have poor leg circulation to begin with, and we somehow think it's warmer in a barn when really all we're doing is restricting them from moving around properly to stay warm.

Don't blanket him unless he obviously needs it. Equine coats are designed to insulate and protect. Some horses like my wimpy Arab simply don't grow a proper winter coat, so blanketing in her case becomes neccesary. I have a 1250D Shedrow Gold Turnout for her, and she comes through -40C winters just fine outside with it on. If he grows a proper winter coat, a proper shelter is more then adequete to get him through winter. He can hide from the wind and sloppy weather. Most horses will prefer to stand around and let the snow pile up on their backs because it actually acts as insulation and keeps them warm.

However on that note, if you DO blanket him, you MUST blanket him for the remainder of winter. It's fine to toss a rug on an extra chilly day, but once he goes extended periods of time with a blanket on, it flattens the hair and then prevents it from doing it's job of protecting. Again, people think it's helpful to blanket only when it's cold, but really, it should be either blanket on or blanket off for the winter or you run the risk of his hair not doing it's job.

When it gets cold, free feed hay. This is almost a must. I'm up in Canada, where it hits -40, and the minute the horses run out of hay, they will start shivering. Being able to munch constantly during chilly temps keeps the body working, digesting and producing heat.

As for the ice balls in the feet, PAM will become your best friend. Spraying some non-stick cooking oil to the bottoms of their feet works wonders in preventing ice buildups.

I'm also not sure of the setup, but I strongly advise a buddy horse. We winter out herd in pasture, without a shelter but a very dense pine/spruce tree line and only my Arab mare wears a blanket. I attribute the success of this due to there being seven of them, and they can huddle for warmth when it gets chilly. However, if you have a proper shelter and blanket, it's not neccesary.

I hope this helps a bit! Feel free to PM me with any questions, living in -40C Canadian winters with horses, I'm the queen of cold survival

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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post #5 of 19 Old 07-23-2009, 09:27 PM
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I totally agree with Macabre on this one...your horse is actually better adapted for cold weather than hot, and will adapt quite easily to the changes he is going to experience this year.

Free choice hay, Ice free water, and atleast a 3 sided shelter available is all most horses need. I have never blanketed a horse in winter weather yet; and in MN we get 40 below weather as well. Most horses don't even go into a shelter, but will huddle together!

The only time I DO blanket is if the horse has had an extra hard workout, and needs to dry out a bit; then I blanket until the horse dries out, and unblanket, refluff his coat and turn him back out.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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post #6 of 19 Old 07-23-2009, 10:17 PM
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Once you have figured out what size and weight you want in a blanket I suggest you look at these 2 sellers on ebay. Technically they are the same but do list things separately.
horselovers and equiteric You can buy directly from their store or bid if you like. I have gotten great deals that way. McAlister are good blankets. I have a hw and a mw of that brand. I only blanket my 30 yr old blind appy as he's in a stall w/paddock now. I will occasionally toss one on one of the other horses for a little while if I see someone chilling. Oh, I'm in Kansas so we don't normally stay bitterly cold for long.

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post #7 of 19 Old 07-23-2009, 10:29 PM
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Bummer, can't edit my post.. Just wanted to add the following

I absolutely agree with the don't blanket unless you have to. Most horses can handle the weather better than we can second guess their needs. As I said, I normally only have them for "incase" someone is chilling.

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post #8 of 19 Old 07-24-2009, 09:36 AM Thread Starter
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Hey everyone...
Thanks a bunch.
I did kind of think that trying to wait as long as possible would be a good idea.
His crrent shelter has 3 sides and he already has his spot to stand when the wind blows. There is a 2 year old Filly next to him but i am not sure if she will winter at this barn or not.
I usually have him turned out one time a week inot one of the pastures for a few hours but I have NO IDEA how this ranch operates in the winter.

As for his shoes....Well he just now got his prescription type shoes and we are trying to bring him out of the long toe low heel phase that he went into when he was with my parents at their breeding farm. I am not sure what others do there or how any snow removal is done...
It is a large facility. I think the main barn has stalls with paddocs all the way around a very very large indoor arena...there must be at least 70 stalls with paddocks.
Then there is a smaller barn that has bigger stalls with bigger paddocks. If I did decide to do that my horse would always have the choice to be in or out of the stall, and I would choose this set up because the stall is really large...even good for a mare and foal altho they don't have any there.
But I say that so you all can get a feel for the stall size.

The shoeing..not sure what to do about that!

As far as my horses coat, some winters at my parents place I saw he would get a pretty thick coat and then other times not as thick so I think his body probably figures that one out...

The heater and the water bucket heater would not work out but there is someone on the property at all times and the guys are there every day to clean. In the summer they clean out water every Monday but not sure they do that in the winter. I may have to take his metal water tub out and do something different in the winter...
I will have to just kind of get a feel for things and mae sure I have a nice turnout style blanket on hand...

I appreciate all the info and will have to write it all down and keep it safe some place to draw upon later.

Thanks so much for all the helpful hints...

Half Pass
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post #9 of 19 Old 07-24-2009, 09:46 AM
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in my opinion, the most important things are to keep them dry and keep them fed. Dry horses will be fine in very cold weather but once they are wet and it is really cold that is when they start to feel the temperature. Like somebody else said, horses are much better equipped for cold weather than they are hot weather.

Also, make sure that they have good hay. I am not a round bale fan, I just feel like it molds and doesn't offer much nutritional value. During real cold snaps, we feed 4 horses a bale a day... They get hay in the morning and afternoon.
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post #10 of 19 Old 07-24-2009, 11:23 AM
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Actually its the best time to think about it because all the blankets are on sale!! I just bought one for my horse.

I wanted to add that I like the blankets with the new high neck feature. My horses always got little rubs from them getting "stuck" at the base of the neck while grazing.

And hair growth has more to do with light then temperature. The only way to truly avoid hair growth is to use a heat lamp that keeps the stall lit up all night long.

Last edited by hotreddun; 07-24-2009 at 11:25 AM.
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