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Hi, I was wondering if you can completely stop blanketing in a horse who has pretty much been blanketed its whole life, as I am not too keen on blanketing, I just think it's unnecessary and unnatural whilst the horse has perfectly good natural oils in its fur to keep him both cool and warm. If it helps, he's a thouroughbred around 10 years, I know their skin is more thinner than most horses. Also I wouldn't mind blanketing in the older years or when medical problems, just now.

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I've heard that once you start blanketing you can't quit. Because the horse doesn't build up or make whatever he needs to stay warm/cool/dry because the blanket is there to do it for him. I could be wrong though.

My horse has probably never worn a blanket, and he's survived 18 summers and 17 winters :lol:
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For some horses, yes, it is possible, IMO, as long as you stop during warm weather and do not put back on in fall as weather gets colder. However, thoroughbreds are not known for their hardiness, and can be bought to keep weight on in winter climates…..I guess to me it would depend on your horse and your climate. If you are in someplace that gets frigid with winds-I personally wouldn't, but, then personally I like mine with some protection for my own reasons….like easier to clean up to ride…..;-)
 

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If you don't start blanketing at the beginning of the winter, you should be fine. Just watch your horse and see how he does.

Unblanketed horses in cold climates should always have enough space to move, and a shelter from wind and rain (they'll likely stay in the rain and snow anyway, but the wind is dangerous)

Blankets are very useful when a horse have some medical issue, or when he gets worked hard very often and a long fluffy coat would take too much effort and time to dry.

Healthy horses who don't sweat for an hour every day? No reason to blanket them really.
 

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If you don't start blanketing at the beginning of the winter, you should be fine. Just watch your horse and see how he does.

Unblanketed horses in cold climates should always have enough space to move, and a shelter from wind and rain (they'll likely stay in the rain and snow anyway, but the wind is dangerous)

Blankets are very useful when a horse have some medical issue, or when he gets worked hard very often and a long fluffy coat would take too much effort and time to dry.

Healthy horses who don't sweat for an hour every day? No reason to blanket them really.
And lots of forage.
 

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In nature, horses can seek out a lot more shelter, and are on the move more and hence warmer, than what happens in an average paddock. A horse will need some protection from sun, wind and rain to be comfortable - whether a walk-in shelter, good overhanging shelter belts, or rugs in adverse conditions. Horses can survive all sorts of stuff - but whether they are comfortable is another question. Horses like the Norwegian Fjord, the Shetland Pony and the Iceland Pony are far better adapted to life in cold climates than the TB and most common riding breeds these days. In many areas of Australia, healthy horses with at least decent plant shelter should be comfortable without rugging except in winter or adverse conditions. Here on the South Coast, we have high winds and cold that kills sheep in their paddocks, so we do rug over winter and in adverse conditions.
 

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Pony, watch the horse for shivering almost non stop, altho shivering is a warming mechanism. Too much, like several days, can result in weight loss. Often just a breathable rain sheet provides enough protection from cold winds and will trap some of the horse's heat. I'm not familiar with Aussie weather but in Canada we get -35C. My horses aren't blanketed altho one needs a little help if we get strong winds with rain/snow at the beginning of winter. In his case he'd wear it during the day when turned out as that's when the weather is at it's worst. It seems to abate during the night. They won't go in the barn but opt for a thick stand of trees. Of course, because I'm prepared for that type of weather with a new rainsheet, it won't happen. Yeah!
 

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My BO gets lots of ottbs straight off the track in the fall, many from Kentucky and florida. Some adjust right away, others we blanket as little as possible and usually they adapt by the second winter.

There are some horses that never adapt, and must be blanketed their whole life. I knew someone with an appaloosa like that.

pay attention to how much coat he is growing and his weight. Make sure he's not shivering regularly, I rarely see any horse here shivering, even at -40 celcius.
 

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I happen to have experience with this type of situation. When I got my QH as a four year old he had been babied his whole life, blanketed, kept in a barn ect, mind you we live in FL and it rarely gets below 40 and not for long. Any way this horse of mine does not grow a winter coat, and starts shivering when it gets into the 50s. The first year I had him I tried giving him more hay, I tried just a sheet, and he lost weight and was cold, so I caved and put a blanket on him.

I read somewhere that putting blankets on them all the time damages their hair follicles or something like that. Anyway wearing a blanket prevents them from ever puffing up their coat on there own so that mechanism sort of dies. Vague I know, wish I knew where I read the article.

Back to my horse, I have had him 4 years now and even though it is still hot down here the days are getting shorter and I am noticing my others already starting with the winter coats, not my QH.

As for your guy you can always try and see how he does, but be prepared to put a blanket on him.
 

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I have blanketed my TB for the past 5 years.

It's been getting cooler here and I have noticed other people's horses that don't have blankets on during the winter I already starting to grow the winter coat. My TB is not growing his yet.

But I believe my boy is a bit wimpy... last year with the very cold temps and a heavy blanket, tons of forage, and a stall my boy was still shivering.

Just watch your horse, and see how he does.
 

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FWIW - We might like to give our horses a natural life but there is nothing natural about the TB in comparison to any of the hardier breeds that are closer to the primitive horses they evolved from
Blankets don't prevent a horse from ever being able to 'fluff up' again. That's a biological reaction they get when their skin feels cold and the hair does that to try to create an insulating barrier that will retain the body heat and keep the cold out
The problem is that its only as effective as the thickness of the coat
I've had some TB's that grew quite thick coats but they were also fine and didn't do such a good job of keeping the rain off as breeds with coarser denser coats
I've also had TB's that grew hardly any winter coat at all
They also tend to need a lot more food to keep weight on in the cold weather if you don't blanket and you have to be careful that you aren't feeding them more than their digestive system can cope with and get a horse with colic
They have been systematically bred to be thinner skinned so they cool down more easily after racing and also leaves them more susceptible to rain rot
 

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I would start pretty soon. You are going into your Spring and in the Summer he should do fine. It is amazing how a horse will grow a coat in about 3 days, just bc of the temperature. Just keep an eye on him, and put the blanket back on when you think he needs it.
Honestly, unless it's cold and he is a clipped show horse he NEEDS to react to temperatures and have some good ole' fresh air around him. =D
 

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It's certainly not "impossible" xD Where is your horse from? That can play a part in whether or not they grow a sufficient winter coat, in addition to breed. Of course, TB's don't have luxurious winter coats, but they can grow one that is sufficient enough.

I'd stop blanketing and see how he does as the months grow colder. If it's not working to your liking, you can always start blanketing again.
 

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Mine routinely survive winter with temps that have gotten as cold as -30C with just a run in and free choice hay. Even my 39 yr old is fine. She actually likes winter better than the heat.

The coldest I've ever seen it here was -38F. I think the two temps scales are the same at that point and it's darn cold no matter which scale your using. I didn't hang around the barn long that morning.
 

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You are asking at the right time of year for sure. Toss the blanket into storage. Make sure your horse has free access to shelter. Your winters aren't truly cold there anyway. As long as he is otherwise healthy, has a healthy weight, chances are he'll be fine without a blanket.

I took a horse from the track in October (going into winter, in Northern Ontario), and she grew the fluffiest winter coat that she ever grew. Never again like that. I think her body went into over-protective mode. "What the heck is going on? No blanket? Well, I'd better grow a whole whack of fur or I'll freeze my patootie!" She looked like a donkey that winter.
 

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Friend of mine never blankets here in MN (Unless it's obviously needed) and she routinely buys horses that have been blanketed until then. You can't stop partway through winter, as the hair is matted down from the weight of the blanket and they can't poof their coat up, but if you just don't start blanketing this autumn you should be able to transition. If you see him start shivering, a blanket might be necessary regardless, but yes it's very possible to transition to no blanket.
 

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Some of you guys might think Australia doesn't get cold winters compared to you, but one thing we do have here in many places is tremendous amounts of wind which, combined with wet, creates a wind chill situation so intolerable that many otherwise healthy sheep and not-so-newborn calves die of hypothermia every year in Australian paddocks.

I personally don't think letting an animal shiver for days in a row because it's a warming mechanism is okay. Would you like to apply the same principle to yourself? Go out into adverse weather with such inadequate protection that you shiver for days in a row, because it's somehow good for you and proves you are made of stern stuff? I mean, we could take the analogy further and say it would be more natural for us to go back to living in draughty caves like our own ancestors. In some ways that would be good - we wouldn't be exposed to toxic chemicals offgassing from various modern building materials - but would you like it?

Years ago, I paddock agisted for a while with some owners who winter rugged, and some who did not. It's funny how the owners who didn't rug never seemed to be there late at night during a sleet storm blown in on an Antarctic Southerly to see their horses suffer with cold. These were the ordinary, TB, SB or similar riding horses who were huddled up under scraggly peppermint trees shaking like leaves and visibly wide-eyed and distressed - horses who'd, according to their owners, never been rugged and weren't sissies. The owners were busy huddling in their houses with their fires on and didn't turn up till next day when the sun shone again and nothing was amiss.

I well believe that you can go vastly under freezing point and horses can be happy outdoors - as long as there aren't screaming winds. I grew up in Europe and rode in the snow at -20 degC and our animals had rugless day turnout and happily rolled in snow. Calm, very cold conditions do not feel nearly as bad as just over freezing with screaming winds and wet thrown into the bargain. That is a dangerous combination, and explains why Australia loses so much livestock, particularly sheep, annually to hypothermia in the Southern regions. There is a big drive to plant shelterbelts to reduce the problem, because paddocks usually have insufficient shelter. Paddocked livestock have no choice over where they go. Dead huddles of the poor things are usually found lined up against a fenceline they were unable to cross. It's not a nice sight... Death, we can all probably agree, is not okay. But I don't think unnecessary distress is okay either, just because an animal can survive it.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I got told to never compare a horse to yourself.

Would it matter if I stopped blanketing late summer? or would that be a bit too late? Just wondering.
 

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At least a 3 sided shelter is mandatory here. Spelled out in the law. I'm actually pretty amazed that some of our other northern states don't mandate it. Mine is a big run in with a 4th wall and 2 big doors that faces south. They are better off for the free movement.

The snow is very wet here. Freezing rain is common. Ice rules from the end of November to mid April. The last of the snow piles usually go right around May 1. I'm already experiencing frosts.
Europe is very warm compared to here. Comparable European climate...St. Petersburg, Russia only I'm wetter.

I don't see my animals shivering. They go in the barn to get out of the wind and wet. I make sure there is hay around the clock the moment the frosts start. My walker does have a very fine coat. I check her frequently in the cold but she's fine. The other 2 are wooly mammoths. The pony so much so that I've seen 6 inches of snow piled on her back that isn't melting. Slip your hand under her coat and it's warm.

My home is over 250 yrs old and largely all original. Slightly warmer than a cave. I've had houseplants freeze in the outer rooms enough so I don't keep them in there anymore.

If it really came down to it and I've thought about it a lot lately I would bring my 39 yr old pony into the house. I have a large unused room that stays just above freezing. Used to be what they call a summer kitchen for processing food and canning. The big horses I'm afraid are out of luck. Not sure this old floor would hold them and the summer kitchen isn't big enough for more than an 11 hand pony anyway.

Screaming winds...the horses will often go to the center of the pasture and turn their backs to the wind. Saves them from flying debris and they know it. I've even watched the old pony keep a new comer in the center until the storm has passed. Something about this little mountain valley that produces straight line winds. I've had them come through 4x now and see evidence of earlier ones. They seem to know when the wind is the kind that can take the barn or just obnoxious. Just obnoxious and they go inside.

I pretty much have a coat on inside until spring. Except for indoor plumbing and internet my life is pretty identical to the turn of the century. Modern plumbing only came to this old house in the late 1980's. The old Auntie resisted it for years.

I do admit to owning a stable blanket. It occasionally gets used to melt icicles that form on the outer hairs of the pony because so little body heat escapes her coat. Doesn't get used every year and only for 20 minutes or so at a time so it will last.

 

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Pony, Does the horse have shelter where he can get out of the wind and wet?

I used to have a draft that preferred to back into a thicket of pines rather than go into the barn but she did have the choice.
 
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