Join Date: May 2007
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
I keep blankets on hand in case my horses seem cold, stiff, or shiverry, but I try to avoid the use of blankets on a regular basis if possible. Blankets, if left on, can actually matt down the horse's hair taking away the horse's natural ability to keep itself warm. Blankets can be very dangerous for a horse if left on, because if they become saturated, and the hair becomes matted, the horse can get quite cold.
If I feel the need to blanket, I blanket at night, and then remove it in the morning, making sure to brush out matted hair. I find it good to remove at feeding time while they are eating - they are consuming calories and producing heat to digest the food, so are likely to stay warmer. Stalling can also be dangerous in extreme climates. Brining a horse from extreme cold temperatures into a heated stall and back into the cold, can cause shock to the horse, respiratory issues, and other health complications. If a horse needs to be stalled when it is extremely cold outside, I would keep the stall temp. just a little above freezing, so the change in temperatures wasn't so extreme.
I don't base stalling or blanketing my horses on the outside temperatures (it gets to 30 degrees F below zero), but rather wether or not the horse looks uncomfortable. Last winter, I only had to blanket our 18 year old gelding over a period of a couple of weeks when his coat was changing over. Otherwise, none of them had to be blanketed or stalled, even in the coldest temps. By the time it got really cold, they all had fabulous coats.
My horses have been starting to get their fuzzy coats for about a month now, and the temperatures have been between 20-30 degrees F. Rather than adding blankets or stalls, I add hay, and feed calories through various grains. This gives them the ability to build up a fat pad, and the energy to grow a good coat, keep their body temperatures up, and stay warm. Also, a good shelter to protect them from wind and rain is very important. Our shelters are insulated, and kept as run in style, but can be turned into single horse, heated stalls if the temperature gets unbarable.