Winter: to blanket or not to blanket?
There's a constant debate about whether or not you should blanket your horses in the winter. Some people say they're better off without blankets and to just let their coat grow in to protect them naturally. Other people say to blanket them if you have blankets because, naturally, they can get cold in winter. What are your views on this?
My personal opionion is let your horse first grow a coat, if you have a skinny horse you should defently blanket them. If you have an older horse, check everyday to see if the shiver (top of hindquarters) if they are then put a blanket on them, and they should be fine. (Actully you should do this with everyhorse).
If your horse has no shealter in the pasture, then at night when it gets really cold and or windy put the horse in a stall.
I blanket. Yes, horses can survive without blankets, but my horses certainly aren't happy without them in the cold. Blanketing also helps keep weight on during the winter, and it keeps older horses warm which keeps their immune system at it's best. If you don't blanket too early or too much, they will still grow a good coat.
All of the horses here are outside 24/7 some with run-in and some without (They have trees or the side of a barn, run-ins to come but not currently)
There are only about 5 days a year where I will blanket during daylight hours, it has to be REAL cold and blowy for me to blanket in the day light.
I DO blanket at night if there is suppose to be a bad storm or if the temps are going below 5F that night. I would say somewhere around 20-30 nights per year they are blanketed.
Other than that most horses grow sufficient coats. With plenty of hay to keep them going they do fine and I feel that some here get hot with the blankets. I've noticed the rescues come in thin with huge burly coats that are ugly and thick/long... To compensate for the feed they do not get to keep warm. My "permanent resident" horses have very thin coats, they barely look like they've grown anything. But they are fat and can always count on a meal - even with the lack of coats they have they get hot with blankees.
I always keep blankets off so that the horses have time to grow the coat they need. In the rainy just above freezing temps however, this is the WORST time for a horse and I throw water proof sheets on them. I never see them cold in even the chilliest negative temps but if its 33F windy and rain they're cold and need a jacket :)
Every animal should be provided with shelter, food, and water. I don't classify trees as a wind break. Better than nothing but I would want something that offered more protection from rain and snow.
With plenty of hay in there digestive system a healthy horse shouldn't need blanketed. At 30 below mine never showed signs of being cold.
When my horses have a choice to be in the stall or run alot of times during bad weather they chose to be outside. Now that they are in the pasture they head to the run in when it is windy.
Lacey doesn't have any shelter in her field and she's out there 24/7 so I decided to keep her blanketed 24/7. It rains a lot here and at her age (24) I really feel like she should be being babied since she's an old lady. Also, she's the type that if she did have shelter and it was yucky weather, she would be inside that shelter and not coming out (on her own choice). hahaha
I started blanketing in October or so (when it really started raining a lot here) and even with being blanketed all the time (medium weight blanket) her winter coat is very thick and about 3-4 inches long. O.o
So basically, she's happier with her blanket shielding her from the elements and it gives me peace of mind to know that she's warm.
One of those decisions that no one is wrong on (unless they have a horse that is suffering)!
Last winter I did not ride my horse at all so he went naked and grew a hugely thick winter coat and was fine.
This winter I have him boarded at a place with an indoor and he is being ridden daily so he has been blanket to make him less likely to sweat and make cooling him out easier.
Blanket or not depends on what you are going to do with your horse, living arrangements and the horse.
I have only one time in the last 10 years of having my horses blanketed one of my horses (It only lasted maybe an hour?). It was rainy and he was shivering. It was very, very unusual for him. Other than that, never. They can get into the barn if they so choose and if it is going to be super, super cold and windy we feed their hay inside but they choose to be outside anyway. Especially the younger one. He will grab a mouthful of hay and go outside to eat it. They do perfectly fine :) Just be sure they have access to all the hay they want and get fed regularly with a good supply of water on hand. If they are allowed to grow the proper coat they should do just fine. Just keep an eye out and watch for signs of shivering etc. and act accordingly. Also, shelter is a must!
i blanket my horse. i dont start until hes nice and fluffy, but since hes kept alone in a seperate barn, i like to keep him extra warm since theres no extra body heat.
MA gets freezing cold, its been in the single digits the past week or so :(
and blankets keep him cleaner since hes a roller lol
Our boarders are welcome to blanket. However, I will not take off at night and put back on in the morning. If they want to blanket - it stays on. I also recommend two blankets. If they need (SHOULD) wash the blanket or repair tears, straps, etc, they have the second to put on.
We ride all winter. We have always blanketed one mare - more due to her being a pig than the weather. This year my gelding is wearing one due to the fact he could not stop shivering. Plenty of hay and access to shelter but still shivering.
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