When to take winter blankets off - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 01-11-2018, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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When to take winter blankets off

i live in pa and have a 20 year old pinto mare,whom is healthy. because our temperature dips and rises during the winter months,im not sure if or when to take off her blanket. any words of wisdom? its 40 here now but gets down in lower 30s and is going to be even colder later this week. should i leave her blanket on or take it off?
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post #2 of 8 Old 01-11-2018, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyhawk4 View Post
i live in pa and have a 20 year old pinto mare,whom is healthy. because our temperature dips and rises during the winter months,im not sure if or when to take off her blanket. any words of wisdom? its 40 here now but gets down in lower 30s and is going to be even colder later this week. should i leave her blanket on or take it off?
It depends on the horse and your weather but a general guide is this:

Approximate Temperature Guide
45 F – Not clipped: no blanket; Clipped: light weight blanket
35 F – Not clipped: light weight blanket; Clipped: medium weight blanket
25 F – Not clipped: medium weight blanket; Clipped: heavy weight blanket
15 F – Not clipped: heavy weight blanket + hood; Clipped: heavy weight blanket, liner + hood
Below 10F, Heavy weight blanket, liner + hood for all; add polar fleece for clipped

Check how warm she is, if she feels ok then no point in taking it off to put it back on later. If she's hot then definitely take if off even if it's extra work to go back out.

Last edited by horselovinguy; 01-12-2018 at 12:20 PM. Reason: removed comment..
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post #3 of 8 Old 01-11-2018, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyhawk4 View Post
i live in pa and have a 20 year old pinto mare,whom is healthy. because our temperature dips and rises during the winter months,im not sure if or when to take off her blanket. any words of wisdom? its 40 here now but gets down in lower 30s and is going to be even colder later this week. should i leave her blanket on or take it off?
There is the problem, once you start to blanket a horse, you are then responsible for regulating that on and off of the blanket.
Thus, the only horse I blanket in the winter, is my IR horse, due tot he possibility of winter laminitis.
We have extreme temp changes, as we live both where there are extreme winters, but also Chinooks
For instance, about a week ago , our temps got up to about plus 6C, and right now,night times are going down to minus 30 C
Only my IR horse is blanketed. They all have full time turn out, shelters and lots of pasture to forage and exercise in, plus are supplemented with hay and beetpulp, have open water
Of course, if they were clipped, in a training program, ridden in heated arenas, I would manage then different
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post #4 of 8 Old 01-11-2018, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yogiwick View Post
It depends on the horse and your weather but a general guide is this:

Approximate Temperature Guide
45 F Not clipped: no blanket; Clipped: light weight blanket
35 F Not clipped: light weight blanket; Clipped: medium weight blanket
25 F Not clipped: medium weight blanket; Clipped: heavy weight blanket
15 F Not clipped: heavy weight blanket + hood; Clipped: heavy weight blanket, liner + hood
Below 10F, Heavy weight blanket, liner + hood for all; add polar fleece for clipped

And it is better to start a new thread rather than pull one up that is 7 years old ;)

Check how warm she is, if she feels ok then no point in taking it off to put it back on later. If she's hot then definitely take if off even if it's extra work to go back out.
So, who blankets the wild horses?
If horses are not clipped, are healthy, can move, have wind shelter, they do not need to be blanketed, and in fact, are healthier without.
lock them in pens, no wind shelter, no chance to be hroses, and that changes
Can't go by just the temp , if not clipped. There is lifestyle and management that factor in
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post #5 of 8 Old 01-12-2018, 01:49 PM
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OK... I lived on Long Island and have a pretty good understanding of your weather conditions.
Not everyone does.

40 and above, dry, no wind...remove if sun is out
Below 40, no sun and wind...leave it on.
If wet, wind and no sun...leave it on and hopefully the horse has shelter/stall for protection.
When you hit 50+ in winter....take it off if they have a coat or they will roast and sweat.

So now I will write a loooong post of my thoughts...
Take what you want, toss what you not like..


So, a older horse but you don't make mention of how thick or thin a coat, whether the horse has shelter of trees and wind block, if thinner or perfect weight on the body, is forage available {grass/hay} for the horse to eat or search for and how much of a area the horse has to roam in...
I get that horses are fed and housed differently in different parts of the country and world.
Horses on LI had a chance to be t/o but it was in a small paddock not acres of pasture field.
Limited movement, not often was food fed during the short period of time outside either.
Little to no grass is left in a paddock with several horses or even one horse if out for more than an hour or so...on top of that you just had zero temps, a large snowfall recently and are facing now some warmer weather and torrential rain this weekend.
You have an issue...

So....wet, damp and cold that numbs your body at low 30's that those in drier climate and less humid air won't feel till it is far colder...
I can personally take a dry cold much lower in numbers than a wet cold, fact.
I think that is also true of our horses.

For a horse like yours but not knowing the intricacies of it...
If the sun is out, no wind or precipitation and temps are 40 or above I would remove the blanket and watch the horses reaction to being out without it.
If any of those factors changed....I would either bring the horse in or cover the horse with at a minimum a turnout sheet to keep the animal dry and protected from the wind or do all of bring in and add a t/o sheet.
At night when temps hit in the 30's you bet I would cover my horse who has no added warmth from the sun, may not be in a stall/barn and must deal with the cold damp that permeates from the frozen ground...
And add that barns in the northeast commonly do not feed hay 24/7 to horses...they just don't, nor is their acres of land for grazing or roaming in many areas either.
All those things that could make it easy to say you do this...you don't commonly see done.

So, yes I would blanket and sheet my horse so my older horse would not need to burn its fat stores to stay comfortable outdoors.
I would use a turnout sheet often for protection from some of the elements without the extra warmth factor the sun can provide.
In evenings if the thermometer dips into the 30's or lower my horse would be wearing a blanket with insulation.
If there was wind, rain/snow the horse would be brought inside hopefully to avoid again using extra fat stores to stay warm and dry...and inside with the "damp" factor still in the air and cold frozen ground underneath and a stall environment yes the horse would be wearing their blanket.
If the temps plummeted as they did the past week, my horse would be wearing layers of sheet and blanket or a very heavy blanket as the animals are not accustomed to those deep freezing temps nor winds that accompanied them...
You are not the Arctic and the weather has been very uncharacteristic of such deep cold, wind and sustained for so long a time.
Yes, you do need to watch your horse and be around or have someone watch and make changes to clothing worn as the weather changes and dictates change needed.
I look at it as... if I am cold in my normal winter coat and need something more why would my animal not need more protection as they too are acclimated in coat thickness, loft ability and now must deal with sudden changes...
Wet and wind need protection from either when presented together or separate for that matter.
For every article someone can say here read this...another is written to refute it...fact!

The bottom line is, you know your horse and the living conditions the horse is in.
You know what is normal behavior and what is not...
You know how your barn operates in practices concerning the horses and blankets on or off...
You also know the feeding routine and if it is sufficient in cold and wet to make up the differences the horse may use in calories burned staying warm....
Use your gut instinct about this as rarely do they put you wrong...

I can tell you that when I was a kid my horses were in a barn with attached corral and stall access all the time.
In winter they had blankets on during the night.
In the morning when I fed the blankets came off as the sun was out, horses were being fed and they could get out of any weather by going into their open stall.
Many days they stood baking in the winter sun, naked and were warm to the touch when I ran my hands in their coat.
If the sun was hiding, they went in the barn their choice, and looked out on the world.
My paddock had no trees nor was it huge in size but about 50' x 150'...enough they could move and run if they chose but they were ridden daily so they rested and wandered around the barn, then worked when we were out and about.
Funniest was, when I or anyone appeared with the blanket the horses would arrive, stand still directly in front of you and wait for it to be put on.
I swear a sigh was done as "comfort" was felt to arrive.
Made no difference what time of day, not feeding time or otherwise, if the weather changed and horses needed blankets someone from the family would go to the barn and do the deed...so no association with food was it either. My mom never fed the horses, but they would come to her and line-up same as for me or my dad...

Do what you think is best and let your horse tell you what they want and need.
Watch their body language and let that guide you...and use your gut reaction...rarely does that ever steer us terribly wrong either.
One thing I will make note of though...
If you are not using turnout style blankets then never leave the horses outdoors with them on and go away for the day if there is a remote chance of a weather change.
Stable blankets will absorb all moisture from the ground or air.
Turnout blankets do not and will repel wet from any location to keep the animals body dry.
Good turnouts breathe and allow damp to dissipate. That keeps the horse drier, warmer and less chilled if they should get slightly overheated and sweat.
I had and still have turnout sheets, turnout blankets and stable sheets.
I use mostly my t/o each by itself.
Having a stable sheet though allows me to layer underneath my winter blanket or sheet or make several layers when weather dictated it was so cold to keep my horse comfortable. Stable sheets just feel warmer to me in material made from so if that cold layers are needed....stable sheet and t/o blanket and or t/o sheet added too. {turnout always is the outer most layer though}
A naked body is a huge amount of space where warmth is lost easily unprotected...a little protection can make the horse more comfortable both in keeping warmer or dry if caught outside for lengths of time in the damp of the "northeast" winters or any winter for that matter.

As a kid, not knowing anything I know my horses came out of winter looking better once we started to offer blanket protection...
I didn't have to change how I fed or what I fed...just giving a blanket helped my horses to not drop weight.
I can only attribute that to not burning extra calories trying to stay warm.
To this day, many years older and wiser, I still go by gut feeling, instinct and watching my horses.
The proof is my horses look wonderful round and healthy, where the neighbors who feed the same today as during the fall...well their horses look thin to me.
We've had some cold wet weather and storms in summer they did not do anything different about...their horses look it.
Pictures show proof of that, not my mind and imagination seeing things.
Blanket, heck yes!!
....
jmo...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #6 of 8 Old 01-12-2018, 02:51 PM
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Yes, if an older hrose needs a blanket to help keep weight, by all means use one. I did, on my 30 year old mare, once she so longer kept weight on like before.
At the moment, I have healthy horses, except for my IR horse, who I blanket when it gets really cold, to keep as much blood as possible diverted to her hooves which might have compromised circulation, thus prone to winter laminitis
The rest of my horses, I actually hope they might loose a bit of weight, over the winter! They have tons of forage, and could do well with that alone, plus open water and minerals, but I just can't not feed them in winter (they have me trained! ), thus they do get a fork of hay, morning and evening, plus some beet pulp
All summer, I struggle to keep their weigh where it should be, thus have to limit pasture, dry lot, use portable electric fencing, grazing muzzles, and thus, feed way more hay in summer, while hroses are either dry lotted full time, or put in corrals, and to graze only an hour, then most winters
I certainly don't want skinny horses,horses in less then ideal body score, but I like them to come into spring, at least in ideal weight, and not over weight.
In fact, the reason many domestic hroses are pushed over the edge, on spring grass, is because they evolved not to be in the same body score year round.
Just giving my situation, which can be entirely different.
We used to have anywhere from 25 to 35 horses, when we were actively raising them, so pastures were never so over grown, esp since broodmares and young growing horses always had free pasture access 24/7
Now, I have mature horses that are easy keepers, and only 4 of them, plus two coming two year olds. Way too much pasture. Need to get cows, but first major re fencing is needed, as when we moved onto this quarter, I , with the help of my son, removed all the barb wire from all the pasture land, and replaced it will just two strands of smooth.
I uses to keep the top wire hot, but my horses are so respectful of fences, I no longer need to. Won't work for cattle.
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-12-2018, 03:02 PM
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Why can't you change the blanket as the temperature changes? Why is the only option on or off now? My horse may wear 2-3 different blankets during the week if the temps are fluctuating. You can always take the blanket off for a day or afternoon then put it back on. Contrary to what some may say, a horse will not get sick from have a blanket on and off.
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-12-2018, 07:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
So, who blankets the wild horses?
If horses are not clipped, are healthy, can move, have wind shelter, they do not need to be blanketed, and in fact, are healthier without.
lock them in pens, no wind shelter, no chance to be hroses, and that changes
Can't go by just the temp , if not clipped. There is lifestyle and management that factor in
Wasn't commenting on whether to blanket or not as the OP already is, simply made a general comment with the disclaimer of general.. Also did not want to make specific comments as we have no idea what the mare is wearing just know that she's wearing a blanket and is located (we assume) in PA.
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