Do I need a blanket for my (SoCal) horse?
Lately we've had low temps in the mid-30's. What I currently do is give an extra flake of grass hay about 9pm in a hay net (maybe more is needed?). When he's done with the flake he's warm for awhile but is he then lacking the fuel needed a couple of hours later or how long does it last? He is boarded in a 24 x 24 pipe stall.
My horse doesn't have a full thick coat. I see fluffed up hair basically on the bottom half of him but his topline is just a bit thicker but doesn't fluff up like other horses I see with wooly coats. He's of good weight. Is he OK natural, with the extra flake (is it enough)?
I have a rain sheet - is that helfpul to use to give him warmth (if it's even needed) or is that useless and a light blanket would be minimum?
I just always wonder if I'm doing enough or I need to do more. Being in southern california weather is confusing since we occasionally get colder than we're used to but where is the threshold for him? I don't want to blanket if it really isn't necessary so I guess I just really need the guidelines.
A lot of questions but I'm sure you all get the point. Thanks for any help.
I'd say that he should be fine without a blanket. I would just continue to increase his hay ration on the nights that are colder. It is good that he has shelter and that you use a hay net, which will help him to spread out his extra ration. If you do decide to blanket, I would suggest something light weight and water proof.
I am sure that other members will be able to give you a more definitive answer. To me, in moderate climates, it is much easier not to blanket unless a horse is clipped... as long as they have shelter and good grub. ;)
I used to live in Southern CA and have boarded both in Lake Forest and Riverside for years. I know it drops below freezing in Riverside. I would say your horse is okay. His hair not fluffing up is a sign that he's not getting too cold (they fluff up to help trap in heat and stay warmer). I have seen a lot of horses in South CA actually get sick from going in and out of blankets, etc too much actually.
I think if you are really worried and it's going to be a cold night, I would give an extra flake at dinner so that your horse has it a few hours before the cold hits, unless it's alfalfa as alfalfa doesn't contribute as much to keeping warm as the grass hays.
Grass hays such as brome, timothy, prairie etc ferment in the horse's gut. Don't worry, this is a good thing that is supposed to happen. The bi-product of the fermentation is heat...this heat will keep your horse warm from the inside out, much like when we eat oatmeal on a cold day. Giving the extra flake in the morning kind of is a little late to keep warm over a cold night.
If your horse is like many I know in CA and gets alfalfa, then I would maybe get some sort of grass hay to help with this process to add to it, don't add alfalfa because it doesn't really ferment and will just add too much protein and can cause colic and other issues. There are some feeds that also has fermenting grains in them, that can help (strategy healthy edge is one of them, I think Omolene does too). Mainly you want to do your research.
I hear your concern on the cold nights,the 30's are usually OK, as long as it's not also wet & windy. My P. fino mare & the Arab don't have much winter coat to look at, but you will see how heavy it actually is when they start shedding in a few months. I have blankets, but don't use them too often. They do have shelters & mats so their feet stay dry, though.
Cinnys, the extra flake I give is 3-Way at 9 pm (not in the morning) so this is after his alfalfa dinner. So it sounds like he's getting what he needs. Good to know that his hair not fluffed up doesn't mean his coat is not thick enough.
Cacowgirl, it's not wet or windy but if that happens I'll add a sheet.
It was 80 degrees today but it's suppose to be 35 degrees tonight. Weird.
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