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I was wondering what other peoples' beliefs were on blanketing horses, as I've heard so many different things and sometimes get quite a few sour looks when I express my own opinons.
I'm going to share some points I have (but I do understand that it completely depends on the horse, the climate it lives in etc etc.) :

First, I don't turn out horses with a rug unless they have already grown a winter hair coat, as wearing a rug restricts the growth. Of course this doesn't apply to clipped horses.

I was taught that horses need to have a rug on as soon as humans put on jackets and coats. I won't throw a blanket on horses whenever it's just ''a bit chilly''. I'm from a northern European country so the weather can get pretty icy here. I don't blanket my horses when it's over 0°C. Horses who have trouble keeping their weight or might develop health issues because of the cold get a blanket as soon as it drops below 0. Strong and healthy horses run around without a rug up to -10°C or so.

Stable rugs are a bit more difficult as it really just depends on the horse. Although the stable is protected from the elements, it can still get quite cold at night. So yet again, horses who tend to be more sensitive to cold have a light stable rug on. Others can do just fine without.

Now exercise rugs are something that I am very general about. If the weather is cold enough for you to be wearing a jacket and you're going to get your horse sweaty, use a fleece rug when warming up and cooling your horse. I live in a very windy area, and even though the temperatures might not be too cold, the wind definitely is. Wind + sweaty horse= seems like an awful good way for the horse to catch a cold, or at least be very stiff the next day.

Horses are still animals, and in the wild they have to survive without the help of fuzzy pink glittery blankets, so I can not spoil them too much.

Now, I'm interested to hear what rules others have on this matter. :smile:
 
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Care for the horse you have in front of you.

By that, I mean blanket YOUR horse according to YOUR horse's needs, and never mind what anybody else is doing or your own physical comfort with the temperature.

I learned my horses' language in regards to which blankets they want and when. One is INCREDIBLY sensitive to temperature and shivers at 10C/50F even with a full winter coat, but runs warm. I don't put heavies on her. The most she ever has is a medium and a fleece, and that's when she's clipped & even then only on the coldest nights in midwinter. I can't use filled combos on her because she never wants more than a rainsheet on her neck.
The other is not as sensitive and I've only seen him shiver when he was drenched to the skin on a cold day, but he doesn't run as warm and quite often wants his medium (combo!) on when my mare only wants her rainsheet.
 

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Every horse is different, every situation is different and every climate is different. In California I put a turnout blanket on my horse about three times a year, in cold rainstorms. Here in western Mass, where winters are cold but also damp at times, I tend to leave blankets off until at least 20F/-6.6C. I have medium-weight turn out blankets I use mostly, pulling out the heavyweights for around zero F/-18C. My horses never seem cold at all, so I assume I am either getting it right or overdoing it. I try to keep at least a small layer of fat on them in winter, and I don't clip. They have stalls they can go into but they rarely use them for shelter. They like to take naps in the shavings, mainly.
 

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I live in sunny and warm if not hot Florida where it is oppressive humid in summer and winter can be not far behind still in humidity.
My horses grow what you would think should be a heavy enough coat of fur for our climate...
But when my horses are cranky and out of sorts and we just had a weather change of cold front or higher winds come through they feel it and respond in crank and agitation showing.
Our winds are often 30 - 40 mph constant so it takes and makes a difference in comfort especially when the wind comes from the north its cold for them, its cold for me.
We don't use heavy-weight blankets but 200 - 250 gram warmth works well.
They get protection from the wind and cold that comes from it but not overheated either.
By mid-morning blankets are off for the day as the sun is still warming then blankets go back on at dinnertime as the sun going down brings back the cold.
Rarely do the horses wear blankets all day long...
I do use t/o sheets often for the wind protection they offer and that really works well to keep them comfy but not sweaty.
When it is drizzly or raining my horses in winter do wear those sheets so their heavier coats not get soaked through cause a nightmare to get them dry if the humidity sticks around for a few days...
My horses though tell me if they need something or are happy "naked"...
I read that body language and act accordingly...
When you put a blanket on a horse and listen to them inhale deeply and sigh you know they are now content. :smile:
Such a individual thing though...to blanket or not. How heavy or not....my horses tell me. :cool:
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Coat growth is modulated by daylight hours, not if they were blanketed early or not.


I'm also in a northern climate. Some horses gets blankets, some don't. I had a QH who didn't get a blanket. He lived out even in the -40 spells. He was absolutely fine. Other years he was clipped and blanketed. Had another WB who also was a beast in the winter, no blanket needed. My current WB, however, always gets blanketed. He's a harder keeper and I've struggled with his weight during the winter in previous years, and while his weight has been under control for a few years now, I'm not about to give him an excuse to drop any again. He also doesn't grow much of a coat, and really, why should I make him deal with the cold? He also lives outside year round, but also has a number of health issues like arthritis that are really helped by staying warm. I tend to blanket lighter than most people around me, but I've started blanketing him heavier in the recent years. I rarely see him shiver, usually when it's raining, windy, and cold. The one year I clipped him, it was -60 for a week and he was warm and cozy the whole time being outside in his blankets.



I do like to keep them naked as often as possible. On warm winter days I'll pull blankets if I'm able. Otherwise, I'll make sure the blanket is coming off at least once every days or two. Simply because they don't get to scratch and itch the same with a blanket on and it's good to get some airflow and relieve any pressure that's there.


I always have heated barns and arenas, so stable blankets aren't a concern for me (plus I rarely stall my horses anymore). It's always warm enough inside that they don't need blankets. If I do ride outside in the winter, usually I don't use anything unless they are clipped. Then I'll use a quarter sheet unless it's quite warm. For clipped horses, I tend to use my face as an indicator. If I can stand to be outside without my face wrapped in a scarf or shielded, then it's good enough for the clipped horse to be out for a spell. When I do ride outside in the winter, it's for a trail ride, not exercise, so there's little risk of anyone getting sweaty. Sweaty work happens inside and if they are sweaty regularly, they are clipped.


One thing I can't stand about blanketing is when people have one blanket for the entire season. There's no way the same blanket is appropriate at -5 and -40. I always make sure I have a variety of weights to accommodate all weather. To make it cheaper, you can buy liners and sheets instead of full turnouts. Also hate when people put a blanket on and leave it on for 4-5+ days at a time. I feel so guilty when I leave a blanket on for more than 2 days at a time. One time I left a blanket on for 5 days without removing it because it was -60 and I couldn't get to the barn. It killed me.
 

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I used to be a firm believer that blanketing was completely unnecessary for most horses, and that humans were just obsessive about anything that could be obsessed about - and then, my already difficult keeper became a hard keeper, and I now have a pile of blankets in my car.

I lived in the UP of Michigan when my horse really started struggling with his weight. The county I was living in average over 200 inches of snow per year, and the average low temperature was under 10F during the winter months - not considering the winds during blistering snow storms. My horse wore his heavyweight blanket every single day for the majority of the winter, and had hay available 24/7, meanwhile my easy keeper mare hasn't worn a blanket a single day since I've had her.

This year will be different - as I am strongly considering clipping both for the winter, and blanketing. I have never had the treat of having an indoor arena to really ride during winter, and now I do, so I figure clipping will be the right way to go. I have no idea how to handle clipping+blanketing, but we will figure it out!
 

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I'm in minnesota already cold and snow here. High 30s during the day 20s at night. Horses are blanketed in medium weight blankets. Blankets are on 24/7 as it's cloudy windy an damp.

Once it starts going down to 10 degrees and below zero. Heavy weight blankets with neck covers attached go on. Heavy weight as in 300 gram fiber fill.

Depending on horse some times I'll put a 100 to 250 gram fill blanket under the heavy weight. My horse doesn't grow much winter coat. It's a bit longer then his summer coat but really thin. So he gets cold easley ,and shivers if left with no blanket at out current temps.

Pretty much have to deal with horse you have. Every horse is different some do fine never wearing a blanket. Some require blanketing.

Wet /windy an temps in 40s or 50 makes for a cold horse.
 

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Apart from the shivering to indicate they are cold, what do you think about how cold a horse's ears are for an indication?
Any truth to that?
 

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I agree with blue eyed pony, blanket(or not) for the horse and situation you're faced with.


I got away with not blanketing for many years. Living in the North eastern part of NV the temps can be cold(-20*F) and the snow deep where we were at. But they had cover from willows and river banks on the meadows, no shelters. Never blanketed.
I didn't blanket until we moved to east Texas, my horses were not used to so much moisture. 30* on a wet day can be bone chilling whereas 30* on a dry day in NV with no wind is dang near T-shirt weather. There were a few times I was caught off guard by a storm, brought horses into the carport to towel off and throw a blanket on because they were standing shivering, tails clamped and heads on the ground when I got home from work but it was 70* when I left.


We live in ID now, same weather as where we lived in NV, but I blanket as they have no place to take cover or get out of the wind. We are in the process of building a shed row but not finished. The winds have been blowing for a week now after a big rain storm came through. Horses were blanketed with waterproofs. And snow is in the forcast this coming weekend.

The Dragon is double tough. She was range bred out of MT and came to me via WY and an easy keeper. Weather has to be getting nasty for her to welcome a blanket.

Stilts is getting older and is a bit of a hard keeper so I prefer to blanket him so he isn't burning all of his calories trying to stay warm.

Prissy when she comes home won't need much either, she was raised on the ID/WY border.

I brought Piggy home from the trainers last month. She has been living in a stall the last couple of years and even though she was range raised in the mountains, she is not getting a fluffy winter coat like my others have already. She still has a slick, shiny summer show coat like the picture I took last month when I brought her home. She gets a sheet at night to break the wind. I also ordered her a heavy blanket with a neck cover. I already have light and medium blankets that fit everyone so I can blanket accordingly.
 

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@livelovelaughride I havent heard anything about ears being an indicator, hopefully someone will chime in.
 

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North Texas here. When the nights are going to be 40 or lower we blanket and take them off in the mornings if it is going to get above 50. Keeps it really simple. As was already mentioned by @COWCHICK77 the humidity can make even 25F that miserable kind of cold if the humidity is high as well. Most of the time they probably don't need it, more for me so I don't mess up and forget to check the temps when the weather is doing something different every day. With larger numbers of horses turned out and a place for them to go we have skipped blanketing and they were fine, although I'm sure some of those nights they were really happy to see the sunrise.

I guess I should mention the blankets themselves. I've bought several different brands and types but my favorite is the Big D blankets. Doesn't have to be that brand but the way they fasten. Easy on and off, and have had the fewest problems with them lasting although I'd rather they get torn up than get a horse hurt. Least favorite is any kind that buckles in the front, which for some reason just don't work out for me.
 

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I read an interesting study where they taught horses signals to indicate whether they wanted blankets on or off.

The results were very individualized, with some horses preferring to have their blankets left on when it was warmer, and some hardly ever wanting one.
 

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North Texas here. When the nights are going to be 40 or lower we blanket and take them off in the mornings if it is going to get above 50. Keeps it really simple. As was already mentioned by @COWCHICK77 the humidity can make even 25F that miserable kind of cold if the humidity is high as well. Most of the time they probably don't need it, more for me so I don't mess up and forget to check the temps when the weather is doing something different every day. With larger numbers of horses turned out and a place for them to go we have skipped blanketing and they were fine, although I'm sure some of those nights they were really happy to see the sunrise.

I guess I should mention the blankets themselves. I've bought several different brands and types but my favorite is the Big D blankets. Doesn't have to be that brand but the way they fasten. Easy on and off, and have had the fewest problems with them lasting although I'd rather they get torn up than get a horse hurt. Least favorite is any kind that buckles in the front, which for some reason just don't work out for me.

I agree I like the snaps so they are easy to do in the front. I don't pull them off over the head because our air is so dry the static electricity really gives them a jolt if I am not careful.
I have had good luck with the Schneiders. And I have a sheet by McAlister I got on sale, it has stood the the test of time.


I read an interesting study where they taught horses signals to indicate whether they wanted blankets on or off.

The results were very individualized, with some horses preferring to have their blankets left on when it was warmer, and some hardly ever wanting one.

I remember that study!
Is this it?
https://thehorse.com/149916/study-horses-can-communicate-blanketing-preferences/


The Dragon is very good at demonstrating whether she wants one or not. Cranky mare face if not....LOL
 

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First I live where the weather is mild, we had a ton of rain last year(for us that means a week straight of rain) and the first snow in about 10yrs. I actually had to go purchase thicker blankets because my horses did not have the coat for snow 😳
With that being said I rarely blanket unless it is below 20°f but more often then not, even then it is only if it is raining and/or windy.
I prefer that if for whatever reason I can not get to them, they will still be ok.
I also free feed in slow feed nets, so they always have access to hay under their covers where it does stay nice and dry.
 

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As I've gotten older and *hopefully* wiser, I've learned not to have hard and fast rules about my horses in regards to pretty much anything. Some need grain, some don't. Some need blankets, some don't and the list goes on. I think being a good horseperson just comes down to caring for and being sensitive to your horse's individual needs.
 
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