Originally Posted by JLynn
OK, here come some newbie questions. What is free choice hay? Last winter my neighbor blanketed all of her horses, young and old. She keeps them in their stalls at night with the blankets on. The horses are fed morning and night in their stalls, getting full 4 or 5 pound coffee cans of Nutrena Triumph 10/10 sweet grain and two flakes of hay (each meal). Even now the horses are rarely worked or ridden as she doesn't have the time to devote to that. Now Flash is getting the same amount of food and hay as her horses, plus they graze in the pastures. (Right now the owner doesn't allow me to have any control over what she's fed.) Flash is 24 yo, so what do you suggest I do the rest of this summer (once she's moved here), and this coming winter?
Free choice hay is where the horse can eat hay 24/7, usually from a round bale. Free choice just means that the horse is free to choose when it wants to eat and how much.
As for Flash, as long as she gets a good winter coat and she keeps her weight on during the winter, you can let her be blanket free or do the same as the neighbor. They probably keep the blanket on when in the stall because the barn isn't heated.
As someone else said on here, when we blanket a horse, it is more for us to feel better than for the horse. Granted there are some horses that need it, most will get by just fine without one.
Originally Posted by trailhorserider
I let my horses go "naked" with just a 3-sided run-in shed. I do have blankets, but only use them if I feel a specific horse needs it at a specific time.
For instance, my mustang looks like a wooly mammoth in winter and I never blanket him. I have never seen him shiver, even when wet.
But I have owned one Arabian and one Foxtrotter that if they get wet and it's cold, they will shiver. So 95% of the time they are without a blanket, but if there is going to be a blizzard or rain storm, I will try to blanket them before they get wet, and just for that storm. If I didn't get them blanketed before the storm and I found one wet and shivery, then I will do my best to towel dry them and then put on a blanket over night or until they are dry and warm.
We probably don't get as severe a winter as many of you though. Down around 10 degrees is normally the lowest, and I think I have only seen negative numbers once.
We do the same, only blanket when the weather gets severe. Some say you should blanket when a horse shivers, but I've seen horses shiver at warmer temps, like 40 F. If we were to blanket them then, in the fall, they would never get any winter coat and would not be able to handle it when the temps get way below zero, in the middle of winter.