Has anyone heard any negatives on blanketing your horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 05-16-2017, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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Has anyone heard any negatives on blanketing your horse?

Someone told me that
"Putting a sheet on a horse is not really necessary. Just my opinion, but shared by many. The sheet weakens the muscles at the base of each hair. Yes they have the ability to rotate and lift each hair. If they wear a sheet or blanket those muscles do not work the same way"
Has anyone else heard of this ?
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post #2 of 31 Old 05-16-2017, 06:25 PM
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I've heard plenty of people say negative things about blanketing.

I don't listen to them, though.

I don't believe that particular claim either. Do their papillary muscles atrophy during the summer when it is warm out? They can still move the muscles beneath a blanket, the movement isn't that big, the hair just won't fluff.

Does this person have an explanation as to how the muscles work differently? What the negative impact is?
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post #3 of 31 Old 05-16-2017, 06:26 PM
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I haven't heard of that before, I think the decision of blanketing is up to the horse and climate as well as amount of ridden work and access to shelter.
I don't see the muscles being weakened by blanketing, they are redundant in us fully clothed humans and yet after thousands of years we still get goosebumps.
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post #4 of 31 Old 05-16-2017, 07:23 PM
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Yup, I've heard it....
Do I believe it though.....

If I need a coat to stay warm or dry did it reduce my ability to regulate my body temperature?
No, it made me more comfortable at that present time..
With a covering of light jacket or warmer coat worn....
I can still shiver, have goosebumps or sweat as fitting the weather conditions.

So, personally....
I let my horses tell me by their actions if they need a sheet or blanket.
Do I want to allow my horses to live in unfavorable conditions "Au-natural" or with some added protection that I, as their owner, can provide...
Only a question as "horse-owner" you can provide.

Seriously...
Listen to your gut.
Look with your eyes and use your senses when evaluating every situation.

Common-sense has more to do with horse ownership and good care than someone spouting off this or that fact, a fiction or their personal preference...
That includes what even the so-called "experts" say and from those who quote them chapter and verse...

Do I use sheets and blankets, yes!
Do I watch my horses and their action and interactions with me to determine when, where, why or if they will be dressed in sheets or blankets...you bet!
To me there is no right or wrong of do you or don't you blanket...
Each horse is a individual and with individuality comes needs specific to each animal that need to be met.

To me though....unless the horse has some issue with their anatomy they will not lose the ability to loft their coat.
They though have to not work so hard to stay comfortable under adverse weather conditions that make them physically uncomfortable...
Decisions, decisions, decisions...do you believe or not.

.....
jmo..
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post #5 of 31 Old 05-16-2017, 08:10 PM
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I do not blanket my horses. If it is a cold winter and the horse is ill or down in weight I will blanket them. I do use fly sheets.
The negative would be.. the horses can over heat and not be able to get cool . If you had to sell the horse for any reason, the new owner may not blanket the horse.

I have seen a blanketed horse get its hoof stuck through the belly straps and cause injury to itself.

I used to blanket a mare , and where I boarded, the owner was having a cow bred, near the corral my mare was in, and my mare got frantic, pacing, sweating, etc, the property owner instead of taking the blanket off my mare , called me, after this had been going on for an hour. My mare was a mess, the blankets were wet . Yes I moved my horses, and the following year I stopped blanketing.
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post #6 of 31 Old 05-16-2017, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevenson View Post
I have seen a blanketed horse get its hoof stuck through the belly straps and cause injury to itself.

I used to blanket a mare , and where I boarded, the owner was having a cow bred, near the corral my mare was in, and my mare got frantic, pacing, sweating, etc, the property owner instead of taking the blanket off my mare , called me, after this had been going on for an hour. My mare was a mess, the blankets were wet .

A freakish occurrence getting stuck through the belly straps....
Freakish and not having them properly adjusted a great possibility...
I have also known hundreds of horses who wore blankets and sheets with never a issue...

Glad you moved your mare.
Anyone that would stand by and knowingly watch a horse so upset with what was happening in a neighboring enclosure and not intervene by moving the horse to safer confines....
Well, goes without saying you felt the same way....
Let us say, unwise decisions were made that day!!
.....
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post #7 of 31 Old 05-16-2017, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cfahinds View Post
Someone told me that
"Putting a sheet on a horse is not really necessary. Just my opinion, but shared by many. The sheet weakens the muscles at the base of each hair. Yes they have the ability to rotate and lift each hair. If they wear a sheet or blanket those muscles do not work the same way"
Has anyone else heard of this ?
Waterproof breathable sheets are ideal for our weather. It is often wet and windy enough that the horses get soaked and their body heat gets blown away by the wind.

I've proven to myself that the hair can be lofted underneath a lightweight sheet with no fill, by leaving the sheet on when it's been quite cold just to help the horse retain body heat. Taking the sheet off quickly, I see that the horse already has all the hair fluffed up. The horse is not standing there with all his hair smoothed down and feeling colder than he would without it.

I've heard other strange comments such as "shivering is the natural way for horses to get warm." I don't know about you, but anytime I'm shivering I am very uncomfortable and I might warm up but I might also head the other way to hypothermia. Shivering helps, but it doesn't guarantee you will become warm again in all situations. I've brought in some shivering horses before and had to towel them for quite awhile and add blankets until they stopped shivering. Besides, many horses have difficulty keeping weight on during cold weather, so letting them shiver is making that more difficult. Shivering burns a lot of energy off.
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post #8 of 31 Old 05-16-2017, 08:54 PM
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I was very anti-blanket at first because blanketing was pretty much an unknown practice when I was growing up in the 1960's on the west coast, backyard western riding culture. Horses do not need to be blanketed when it's 40 degrees, if they can get out of the wind and rain.

However, some horses won't voluntarily come out of the rain until they are too cold to warm themselves up very well (like my horse, for example), and after coming out to feed of an evening and finding the horses wet, shivering and beside themselves a few times, made me start rethinking blanketing. Now I blanket if there's a likelihood the horses will get cold and wet enough to shiver. That isn't all that often.

I still don't blanket as a habit. I don't see the point of blanketing an unclipped horse. Maybe I will some time. I do take a blanket when I go horse camping at a higher altitude or if there's a chance of bad weather.
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post #9 of 31 Old 05-16-2017, 08:57 PM
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Hi,

I don't know the answer to the muscles under the skin question, haven't seen any real studies on it, but it does seem logical to me, and IME horses who have been rugged for long periods, with heavy rugs or layers don't seem to 'fluff up' when they're naked & cold(see this often, working on rugged horses, as the rugs get in the way, so I prefer them to be taken off first). *The key I think there is heavy &/or long term rugging. I don't believe it's good for any horse to be 'dressed' all the time, without frequent periods 'naked'. Layering rugs is generally not necessary with todays assortment of options, but whether or not you do, weight of the rugs are an important factor to consider IMO. A fly sheet or such is negligible, for eg.

The biggest problem is over rugging I reckon. Here in Oz, generally, it's not cold enough for horses to need rugs at all. And even in cold climates, horses *that are allowed to be horses* cope very well without rugs too. Generally. But there are many exceptions to that 'rule'. Sick or skinny horses for eg, or those like many TB's who don't grow a good winter coat. & then there are the ones that are living in yards or single small paddocks, that don't get to exercise enough, horses who are clipped, etc. And when rugs are used regularly, they 'acclimatise' to them, and can't regulate their own temperature well, so we need to ensure they're not just off regularly, but on any warmer days etc. Or rather, on only on the colder nights. And if you can't ensure the horse is 'undressed' frequently enough, then I think they're better off left naked, as a rule.
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post #10 of 31 Old 05-16-2017, 09:37 PM
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I have a habit, when people insist on the truth of something that just doesn't add up for me, of trying to think of how most (people, animals, cultures) have historically solved this problem. For example, people who get all wrapped around some kind of diet being the only way to eat. I think to mysef (but try to restrain myself from saying), "but eskimos survived for thousands of years on whale blubber! What about them?

Horses survived and throve for thousands of years in an extreme variety of climates, many of them very harsh indeed (like Mongolia) with a scrap of clothing to their names. What makes our horses so different? For the majority of horses, the answer is, nothing.

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