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Discussion Starter #1
The last few winters have been pretty bad on my mare… I don’t really ride much in winter anymore, and am heading towards not riding at all during the colder months… but regardless of whether I ride or not, no matter if I’m feeding grain and they have hay or not, my mare has a terrible time in winter.

Last winter wasn’t -that- bad, but this winter has been horrible. It’s colder this winter than it was last winter, and my girl lost all the fat she had on her body -fast-. She’s lost weight, muscle, and looks -bad- in my opinion… Not neglected bad, but more like… well, just not cared for. And she is cared for.

I’m wanting to buy her a winter turnout blanket this year… before next winter… since this winter is almost over, I don’t see any reason to buy one right now (and right now I don’t have the money)… So with three seasons (Spring, Summer, and Autumn) to look, maybe I can find a good deal or something… but I also don’t want to buy a blanket if it’s not going to help.

I know nothing about the different types of blankets and all, so could someone help me out here? Knowing me, I’d buy some sort of summer sheet or something, thinking it was a winter blanket… Lol. I'd be looking for something that would help her keep warm, but something that doesn't cost a whole, whole lot and is 'easy maintenance' and durable.

Here’s how my girl normally looks when she’s at a good weight and all… (well, she usually has more weight on her than that… but that’s about in the norm)



And here’s how she looks now… (her winter coat is all grungy feeling and I can feel her ribs easily, though I can only see a vague outline them if I look at her a certain way)

 

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A blanket should help her out a bit. If she's better insulated, more of the energy she consumes can go to keeping weight rather than keeping warm. Free choice hay is great, too, if she isn't already getting all the good hay she can eat.
 

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...agreed. A blanket will help out some. How old is she?
 

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Yes, a blanket will absolutely help her out. It will not only help with energy saving (as mentioned above), but it will also help her want to drink more water in colder weather which is a problem with older horses and hard keepers.

I know how frustrating it is, I have the same problem with my guy, I try so hard to take care of him, but he looks totally neglected in terms of overall weight because he is just such a hard keeper. A good blanket helped us a lot this winter but he's still thin.
 

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I definitely think a blanket would help her out. I had a similar problem with Lacey last year, she wasn't blanketed and by this time of the winter she just looked awful. This year I blanketed her around October and have kept her blanketed since and she looks SO much better right now. She doesn't look as great as she does in the summer but she doesn't look as ancient as she did last year.

I got Lacey a midweight blanket because it doesn't get super cold here. I don't remember all the ins and outs of what weight is for what temperature but I'd say that you definitely don't want a lightweight blanket. The blanket I ended up getting for Lacey is a midweight Weatherbeeta landa freestyle. The one thing I don't like about it is that it's only 600 denier (how strong the outer cloth is, 600 is about the "weakest," the most sturdy you can probably easily find is 1200 denier but that will be more expensive) so she's ripped it pretty well a few times. However, I'm pretty handy at sewing so it's more of an inconvience to sew it back up (which really isn't hard at all).
My BO has this blanket for her horses and I'm totally not a fan. ALL the straps have been ripped off of them within a month or being worn by her horses. Lacey wore one for about a week while I was fixing her blanket and she tore both back leg straps off of it within that week. Her normal blanket has back leg straps too but they are still fully intact after continual October to now wearing.
Basically, you get what you pay for. I bought Lacey's blanket in August/September and I was able to get it for around $70 when normally it's around $120. I had to do a bunch of searching but I found it. =D Also, what I found super helpful was posting a thread and posting what blankets I was considering and getting suggestions as to better blankets for my money. It saved me from buying my first two choices which turned out to be super cheapo blankets that fall apart within months.

Good luck! And sorry for writing you a novel...Haha
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That’s what I was thinking, that it’ll help keep her warmer and will help her keep her weight on, but I wasn’t sure if I was right or not...

And I knew I forgot something... lol.
She’s 16 (well, she’ll be on April 18th)... She’s pastured with a donkey, a mule, four other horses, and around twenty cows.
She and my gelding are the only two animals in the pasture that are on a deworming schedule (they’re due to be dewormed again next month)
She gets free choice hay (though it’s not good quality, as my uncles buy it and they really don’t care about quality... they’d rather have quantity over quality)
I normally don’t feed grain very much, but during winter I feed both my horses soaked Alfalfa pellets (she gets two and a half pounds once a day).

It is frustrating... it’s only been these last three/four winters that have really been a problem... And I -hate- my horses looking like they’re not taken care of. My gelding is -fat- for winter... lol... and the other horses are in good shape, it’s just my girl that’s thin.




Um... can someone help me with the blanket types and all... I know absolutely nothing, couldn't even tell you the name of one... what should I be looking for, ideally?
 

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The blanket that I use is Rider's International Northwind Medium Weight Turnout.

NorthWind Medium Weight Turnout Blanket - Dover Saddlery.

There's the link.

I think the best part is that it has a two year warrenty on it. If it gets any rips or tears, just return it and you get a brand new blanket no questions asked. It's great. No problems with it so far and my horse has not ripped it off or gotten any tears in it. The surprising thing is that his pasture mates are really rough on his blankets, you can see where they grabbed a hold of his blanket and tried to tear it. But no tears, just a few punctures that have not messed with the waterproofing. Great blanket!

When you look for blankets, look for a high denier 1200 or more. The Northwind is 1680. I use a medium weight throughout the whole winter here in MD. We got down to temps as low as 15 on some nights and he stayed warm. Also, look for the word turnout blanket. Most of the time it means this is for outdoor use and not in a stable. Avoid anything that says Stable Blanket because they are not waterproof and will get soaked if used outside when it's raining. This will make your horse cold and he will shiver. I also like to have shoulder gussets because it gives more room for movement if they get frisky. I also like the fleece protection at the whithers because it cuts back a little bit on hair lose in their mane. A nice feature are clip and dee closures on the front buckles so it is easy to get it off when your hands are frozen from the cold.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the info! I'll keep that blanket in mind... I read up a little on blankets a little while ago and I'm going to have to get a higher denier... My mare doesn't really run around or anything, but the other horses... three of them are young-ish (a coming three year old, an almost four year old, and a nine year old who has a three year old mentality... and they're rough and like to chew on things when my back is turned... Lol.
 

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I have blanketed my 31 yr old appy for the past 2 winters as I noticed my easy keeper suddenly late summer was not looking fat anymore. I use a lightweight, a medium weight, and a heavyweight depending on the temps. I live in Kansas and the temps in winter tend to go up and down. Might be nice during the day and very cold at night. OR bitter for several days.

Blanketing a horse who does not have an adequate fat over his ribs will definately help. Also you may want to feed more hay substitute since your hay is not a good quality.

I feed Alfalfa pellets and beet pulp to all my horses in winter as I do not feed grain at all. The younguns don't get more than 1/2 a large coffee can at a feeding. Cheno, the appy, gets as much of that as he will eat as well as from 4-12# a day of an extruded feed called Total Equine. I very much recommend this feed if you can get it. It's fed at a minimum of 2# 2x a day if needed at all. You can feed up to 12+ a day if your horse is not able to eat/digest their hay well. Cheno has few teeth and I also chop some hay for him daily. Mainly to keep him busy..

Be sure you check on your horses body condition frequently when you blanket so you do not get a shock.

I buy on ebay, usually from the store called Horselovers. My denier is not what the others recommend, but my gelding is not out in pasture with others. He's in a stall with a run by himself as he is blind as well. None of my straps have broken and none have ripped either. I think I spent around $50 each for the heavier ones. McAlister brand is one, I forget the other.. They seem to be doing a great job for Cheno.
 

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yes blankets help if they are fitted right. can be hazards if not.

but i think your bigger problem is nutrition. poor quality hay doesn't cut it for winter time. she is not getting basic nutrition needs met, and the cold is using up what she does get. it's good that you are adding alfalfa pellets, but she needs more. feeding the pellets AND a complete senior feed will help a lot. she will need lots of it. it's complete, meaning it includes fine chopped hay, so the volume you feed is greater. probably similar to what Appyt said above. you can feed 12# a day, but work up to it. don't feed a lot at first.

also if the others are not wormed, you need to be worming her every single month and rotate types of wormer. otherwise you are only feeding the worms, and they aren't worth the price of feed!!

just some thoughts that might help you. and how good a shelter does she have from wind and wet? that makes a huge difference in how much body reserves they burn up to stay warm.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I don't have a job (still looking... been looking for over a year), so money is very tight for me right now. I have to make due with what I can. My horses are on a 4 month rotational deworming program, they don't look like they have worms at all. Thehay quality isn't my fault. I don't buy the hay, my uncles do, and they won't change what they buy because they're basically buying for the cows and get the cheap stuff.

As far as shelter does... they have two stalls in the back of the barn/tack room that they can get it, but only one actually keeps them safe from the elements (the barn is prety much falling down), and they have a tin and wood hay shed that all the horses can get in at the same time and share... they normally get in that when it rains or something, but it isn't very warm. They also have three seperate areas of woods that are fairly thick and protect them from the elements.

I only have access to FRM feeds, so what type of senior feed would be best? I have thought about putting my girl on a senior feed, but put it off because during summer, she gets huge on pasture grass alone...
 

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I feed both my horses soaked Alfalfa pellets (she gets two and a half pounds once a day).
If you can feed twice a day I would suggest you increase the alfalfa pellets to 5# a day by feeding the 2.5# twice daily. Also if you can get it the beet pulp will really help a lot as it is more than hay(especially yours) but not as rich as Oats. And you can feed it full feed if necessary. You can soak or not as your horse perfers. That will really go far to help your mare if her main problem is winter and low quality hay.. Usually grain isn't going to help nearly as much because horses need fiber to fuel for the furnace that heats their bodies. Grain is more like a dessert after the meal. Sugar high/quick energy basically.
 

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sounds like good shelter. they huddle for warmth too.

you can buy very inexpensive wormers. often ivermic is only about 3 or 4 $. occasionally give the other (safeguard or something like it).

i understand the hay you have no choice on. didn't mean to sound critical., just trying to list the facts. i totally understand you are trying to do your best for her within the framework you have, and kudos to you for asking and seeking the best for her. too many people wouldn't care so much. i am so glad you do.

alfalfa pellets are a great way to improve overall roughage quality. so you could try just feeding more, but that won't address the vitamin/mineral shortages as well as a senior feed will. but it will help.

you can ask your feed store what they have for a complete feed, like a senior feed. i am not familiar with that brand. i did google them. don't see senior feed, but you should ask. and i did found one complete feed:
HORSE NUGGETS
The "original" low-starch horse feed.
High Alfalfa Based Product.
The choice of Boarding Barns for years because it is so safe to feed.
Horse Nuggets is a complete feed for maintenance of pleasure horses or horses with heaves.
A 12% protein "all-in-one" pelleted feed which can be fed with or without hay or pasture.

hope that helps.
 

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I would suggest having her teeth checked, malocclusion can cause serious rapid weight loss. I have seen older horses go from obese to skin-and-bones over the course of a year, just because of that.
 

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I would rather her have quality hay and be in better condition before next winter. If a horse had the option they typically will not eat the quality of hay that is fed to cows unless they are very hungry. If you have her blanketed and you have to remove it for a repair or something then she will not have her coat to keep her worm. It doesn't get that cold in AL. If you bought some better hay you could safe money on the pellets you are buying.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Our cows, donkeys, and horses are all pastured together. There's no way we can seperate them short of putting up more fencing and in my uncles eyes, the cws are more important than the horses and they wouldn't be happy with fencing some of the pasture off (and I'm not going to get them mad at me, they terrify me when they're angry)

It usually isn't this cold in AL, but the past few winters have been getting colder and colder... it's been down in the teens more often than not this winter, where last winter it was more in the twenties, and the winter before that and all it was in the thirties more often than not.

According to my vet, her teeth are fine, though she'll probably need floating again in a couple months or so... before next year, but he said it wouldn't be a problem until about fall. I'll have to feel her teeth, though, and make sure there's no edges or anything... I'll check tomorrow.

I'll also talk to the feed store owners and see what all they have. My friend buys a ration balancer from them, but they have to special order it for her and they charge her over 30 dollars for fifty pounds... I can't afford that every two weeks in addition to the feed I already buy and the mineral licks I buy.

I will, however, ask about some sort of senior feed, or something that's good for an older horse. I'm kinda hesitant to ask, because the new worker down there doesn't know a thing about horse feed (he tried to sell me and my friend goat feed claiming it would be 'perfect' for the horses problems...), but if I can get ahold of the store owner, I'll ask her.
 

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maybe call the store owner and see what she suggests. then you can write it down and when you go in there, you can get the right stuff. that way if she isn't there when you go, you will be ok.

i work in a feed store. there are too many opinions and everyone thinks they know everything. so call the owner and see what brands they carry and what would be best for your horse. you don'[t have to spend tons to get a good feed, but the cheapest feeds are usually throwing your money away.

maybe you can buy just a few bales of alfalfa and throw some to your horses when you are there to make sure they get to eat it. if that's too hard, alfalfa pellets are helpful
 

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i agree that you should try to get a Sr Feed :D

also try horseloverz.com or do you have a used tack store around you? Oh and Ebay can be a gold mine. Just make sure you get something that is the right size for her and waterproof- those will make a difference in how effective the blanket it ... good luck!
 

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Britt,
I would tend to disagree with blanketing her. Horses use the muscles under the skin to raise and lower the hairs of the coat. If you blanket her, the hair is trapped against her body, and she can't control her temperature. If the blanket gets soaked, she will become very cold. Blankets can create a wonderful place for the growth of rainrot and ringworm. Provide shelter from the wind, and brush out her coat.

I agree with JB44. I would start with better nutrition, and better quality fiber. Can you get beet pulp? Without molasses is better. I soak the beet pulp in hot water, and take it out warm to the horses. I also provide warm water (not just thawed, but 60-80 degrees) to drink in the winter. These two things work well for my geriatric gelding.

The fermentation of fiber is what keeps the horses warm. Both hay and beet pulp fall into this category. Many times senior feed is mainly beet pulp. I would use the available funds to purchase better hay/beet pulp for her. Worm, and check her teeth. It is good that you recognize that there is a problem, and are trying to get help with it, and correct it.
 
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