01-13-2009, 10:14 PM
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We'd go 2 week straight where the temperature went from -70 to -20F including wind chill up in Vermont. The horses who were used to it and had nice thick coats were never blanketed. Two TBs with thin coats lived in their winter blankets. If the wind was down and/or the temp went above -40 the horses went out for the day. Plenty of hay and lots of fresh water was required. They got hot mash morning and night.
If you keep a horse dry and give them the ability to get totally out of the wind (3 sided shelter at least) a healthy horse can manage -20 to -40 with a good food supply and buddies. The more horses that are together, the more heat they produce. Once the sun goes down I don't like leaving anyone out, but I've known a number of ranchers that turn the herd out for the winter and come to get them in the spring. If it comes to the worst horses will line up next to each other, tails to the wind and let the snow pile on their back, they stay pretty insulated.
A horse in poor condition, or that isn't used to the weather can't be expected to handle such temperatures. From what I've seen, a horse needs at least 3 years in an area to be prepared for a hard winter.