I grew up pampering horses terribly. If it got even a bit chilly, the horse had a blanket on. When it got cold, they had multiple blankets, were kept in heated barns and were clipped, heated, and fussed over all winter. Funny how those heated barns saw a lot of horses coughing and getting respiratory problems. We told ourselves they would be a whole lot worse if we weren't pampering our babies.
Then I moved to the high mountains of Colorado. Initially, I had no barn, much less a heated one. My horses had a windbreak. You did not blanket your horses as they would flatten the hair and the horse would lose their heat trapping ability. I was HORRIFIED the first time the temps got to 25 degrees below zero. I was convinced that my horses were dead, for SURE. I would visit my horses and marvel over the thick coat and threaten to make a rug out of them. When spring finally came, it was a rush to clean the horses up and get them back in show fitness for the beginning of the event season.
That first Colorado winter was a real eye opener for me, a person who thought I knew a lot about horses. I learned that not only could my horse survive these conditions, they THRIVED. I never heard a cough until I moved to lower elevations so that I could keep my event horses in better condition for the start of the show season. Then, I found a heated barn........and the pamper problems came back.
I now have a thorough respect for the toughness of the horse. Yes, if you are competing, this gets in the way of allowing your horse to cope as they should. But, for those of you who allow your horses to "go natural" in the winter, fear not.
This is an excellent article about horses and thermoregulation. Hope you enjoy it. Thermoregulation in Horses During Winter | Avventura