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Should I Banket Him?

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Hello! I was wondering if I should blanket my ottb. He is 34 yrs old and problably hasn't had ablanket since his racing days(if he ever raced, he has a tatoo so I just assume...). I haven't blanketed him in the past(only about 2 years) but I recently learned his age so now I am not sure. He has unlimited hay, I believe he gets some senior feed, a run-in and some woods, and cows and his pasture buddy to cuddle with. It get moderatly cold here, more just snow and wind then actual cold temps. If I do need to blanket him, what kind of blanket do you suggest? Here is a picture of him from last week...
 

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HOLY SMOKES! that hrose is 34 yeaRS OLD???? ive heard of ponys being that old but not ottb. first i want to say, he looks GREAT and super healthy!
I would blanket him if hes that old, it will help him get through the winter. as or the kind of blanket? it depends on how cold it is out on certain days and stuff like that. but you might wanna get somebody else to help you with blanketing help :p
 

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yeah I've been blessed with pretty long living horses:). My old horse that died a couple of years ago was somewhere betweeen 25 and 40, then there this old man. I didn't realize how old he was till a couple of months ago(looked up his tatoo) and then I instisted he be put out to pasture!! when my horse died i went and wraped my arms around him and he just layed his head on my back like he was hugging me.
 

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being that he is so old if he were my horse i would ... better safe then sorry :D
 

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okay, so I should blanket him. Just a turnout or what?
 

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for my TB I have Weatherbeeta blankets and they fit him great..I'm very happy with them and recommend the brand to anybody.
since it sounds like he's been okay up until now..unless you've noticed excessive weight loss in the winter, a lightweight turnout would probably do the job. maybe you could just pick up a liner for extra chilly nights if you want..that's pretty much what I do
I have the Landa and Tristar liners, both by Weatherbeeta. :)

good luck with your old guy! as others said, he looks awesome for his age!
 

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I've always heard that as long as they have a wind break and shelter, plenty to eat, they are better without a blanket. Horse's hair stands up in the cold and traps heat between the hairs. When you put a blanket on them, it takes away this function. The only time I blanket my guys is when it drops below 50 and rains. Digesting hay generates heat for them so if you make sure he has food 24/7 and can actually chew well enough to digest it, he should be fine. He has a good winter coat on him. If you do blanket him, make sure it's a good, heavy winter one. A sheet would be worse than nothing as it wouldn't provide any heat and it would take away his ability to develop heat in his winter coat.

He looks great!
 

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Sorry I'm gonna buck the trend. I don't think you should blanket him at all. What does his age have to do with anything? Or maybe this would be a better way to put it - If he was 10, based on his condition, would you blanket him? I wouldn't.

He looks to be in great shape with a wonderful thick furry coat to keep him warm. A blanket is going to smooth that coat out and take away his natural insulation. The free choice hay is providing him with all the fiber he needs to keep himself nice and warm. Not sure where you live, but I live in MN and my horses (even my 30 yo) are outside all the time and are as happy as can be.

I just don't think that age in and of itself is something to take into consideration when blanketing. However, due to his age, I would make sure you give him a once over several times a week. Run your hands over his body to check his body condition score. I wouldn't want him any lower than a 5 at his age. The biggest problem with winter weather and healthy older horses is their thick coats can obscure weight loss for quite awhile. If you keep an eye on that and catch it right away you should need any blanketing.
 

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I agree with the two above me. He looks to be in good condition. He has shelter and free range to feed, so he should be good to go. If you notice weight loss, shivering, etc. blanket him, but unless the weather is really bad he should be ok. I blanket if there is freezing rain and the horses are staying out, but normally they just go inside their shelter so there isn't an issue. Make sure to keep forage out because that is the best thing to help him keep warm.

P.S. He looks wonderful!! :)
 

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To blanket or not to blanket - that is the question.

The answer lies in the climate, the breed of the horse and the use of the horse. Horses used to living out unrugged can live out - unless the temperature regularly drops below freezing (expressed in deg F or deg C).

What horses do not like is cold wet & windy weather. A horse which gets wet needs constant access to food so as to create its own body warmth - otherwise it burns up its own fat and fast loses condition.

In Britain with our very variable climate, most of us tend to use waterproof rugs in the winter. Rugs inhibit the growth or a horse's natural coat which would otherwise provide natural protection. But in turn a thick woolly coated horse will be constantly dirty and will get sweaty if worked.

To me, your answer lies in a question and answer sheet. There are definitely advantages in rugging up but there are some disadvantages too. If you make the decision to rug up then you must stick with it for at least that winter season.

The best option is to go along to neighbours who do rug up and see why they do - and then you can see if their reasoning fits in with your own lifestyle and daily routine.

But one thing I would do with an ageing horse is to feel him regularly at the base of the ears and in between his two back legs. Horses are warm blooded animals and they feel the cold just like you and me. If really cold they shiver.

If you do decide to rug up, then you are committed to looking over the creature at least once every day but better still 2 or 3 times. And you must take the rug off off every other day at least to groom him and to check for rub marks.

My Irish draughtXConnemara mare - who in theory is genetically programmed to live out in wet windy conditions has, at the last count, 8 rugs of her own of different weights. She now has three neck rugs.
Tonight when the temperature is due to drop to minus 3 degrees C, she is wearing two rugs and she is stabled. But the lower half of her has been clipped out to stop her sweating up when being worked. She is also used to being rugged when not working. I can see her from the house for most of the day and I go up to her at least twice - sometimes three times during the day. If she gets caught up in the leg ties or in fence wire, then mostly someone will be around to see - but so far she has been careful. However she is a spoilt Irish huzzy. Although so are all of the other horses in our 'barn'.

Old timers will tell you that horses don't mind getting cold, wet and miserable - "after all they are horses". Personally I don't buy that argument. In the old days you could buy a horse for little money
and when they died you could eat them. My horse is my companion and she earns a little consideration.

In Britain unless the horse ie being laid off work in order to rest up perhaps because of a ligament injury, I would always rug up - even if I owned a Shetland or Dartmoor pony - but I do ride my horse and that is what makes the difference. In Southern Spain, I'd only rug up in January when the rains arrive.

Noone on this Forum can make this decision for you - the conditions under which owners keep their horses vary as do the purposes for which they keep the horse and importantly the time they have available to look after it.

But I am a self declared, unashamed, softie. A horse is a warm blooded animal - just like you and me and I firmly believe it does not like getting cold. So I bought her an overcoat - it soothes my conscience.

Barry G
 

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he does look in good condition for his age, but i would say his weight is such that he has no spare reserves of fat to help keep him warm when the temperature drops, and as he gets older this may cause a problem, so i would monitor him carefully. also his coat does seem a little thin and raised in the picture, which can hide the actual weight under the hair. if he were mine i would probably like to see a little bit more weight on him if i am honest. all of mine have lived until well into thier mid to late 30's, and i admit they all get rugs of medium wieght, for the colder monthes of the year. if you feel the base of his ears, it is a good indication of whether they feel cold or not. i also go by facial expression, my older mare gets a very pinched look in her face when she is cold, which as she gets older, is becoming sooner, in each year. like barry g. i like to rug, because i think they appreciate the comfort of warmth , the same as we do, but, i also think it helps to conserve thier bodies energy, helping them to live longer, with less health problems. as we get older our bodies use up more energy just to function, and in cold wet windy weather, it needs to burn more, just to keep warm; therefore if you provide the extra warmth, the energy can be used for keeping the body healthy, rather than wasted on keeping warm- if that makes sense. this applies to horses as well as humans.
 

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Triple Crown Girl
I have just come back from putting DiDi out in the field for the the next 4 hours - the sky is blue, the sun is shining but the temperature is barely above freezing even at midday.

We can't ride - the tarmac roads are covered in ice and the sand in the menage is rock hard from frozen ice. It was minus 4 deg C last night.
To ride would risk a torn ligament.

I looked at her, checked her two rugs and felt her ears and body - she is as warm as toast. I brushed the dried mud on her upper legs from yesterday. I oiled her feet. I asked her what she wanted to do - she said she wanted to go out with Teddie- her aged shaggy Shetland soulmate. So she has gone out into her field - which is still too hard to walk on and is very slippery - so I am wondering if I did right.

Who knows but she is not cold nor is she miserable. It is winter.

She'll come back in around 3.00pm before the sun starts to drop at 3.30pm. It will be dark by 4.15pm.

She's got a mountain of hay, a bucket of feed and one mystery dip bucket to forage in. She'll be OK for a second night of very low temperatures. She'll be asleep as soon as the other horses in the barn are settled.

Saturday it might rain buckets, if the forecasters can get the weather right for a change. Then we 'll have to think again because the field, which is on a hill, is too slippery already.

She is getting off lightly, workwise. She is beginning to put on weight again - even in winter. And the farrier didn't come as planned - he's got the flu.

But she can't moan at me for not being considerate.
I have done my best and my conscience is clear.

Who would own a horse - I ask you?

Barry G
 

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Sat 8.30 am Barometer 1018 and still rising. Clear blue sky. Sun beginning to rise. Looks to be another crisp day. Thermometer says Minus 5 deg C - that means stable temperature minus 6.
What to do?

Car covered with ice inside and out. Means lanes will be icey. She can't go out till temperature rises above freezing - indicated by forecast for 11.30 am earliest. Sun will go down by 4.15pm and temperature will drop again quickly. It will be another cold night tonight unless wind direction turns.
Problem is field surface - already very slippery, but now hard from frost.

If she goes down then she'll have difficulty in standing up
Sand menage unusable - rock hard and very slippery.
What to do?

First check ears and body for warmth - has she got thick enough blankets. Leave neck hood on even though in stable.

OK give her extra breakfast (alfalfa chaff, pasture mix, sugar beet, apple & carrot) plus unlimited hay.
Leave her in till 11.30 earliest then recheck field. Perhaps let her out then for 3 -4 hours maximum.

No work today. - pity - it would be very pretty up in the woods but there is no way to get her up there and back safely.

B G
 

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Woke up this morning and it's -22 deg F which is what -30 deg C? I do have to admit on days like this I feel guilty about not having a nice barn and a heap of blankets on the horses.

Of course as soon as I go out I change my mind. :) They're both fat and happy, no signs of distress or discomfort. I'm lucky though as unlike Barry I'm not dealing with ice this winter too. Last winter was nasty. It snowed, melted and then flash froze in the space of about a week. There was a good 2" of ice everywhere. Didn't seem to bother the horse much (I have a very flat paddock), but I sure fell a lot!
 

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Personally I would not blanket him unless he is shivering, or cannot get out of the wind. He has a healthy God given hair coat and fat that protects him from the elements. If he is unable to get out of the wind, is sopping wet and shivering then yes I would definately blanket him.(after i dried him off as best i could with towels). When God made the horse, he took care of them and equipped them to survive even in the cold. Sometimes when we pasture them and they cant get under the trees or in the valleys or block the wind as a herd, then we must assist with a stall, barn, lean to, or blanket. I would not leave it on him long term, as skin complications could occur and then you have an older horse, with hair and skin conditions and no other way to keep him warm. You could make your problem much worse. If you do blanket him in colder weather, be sure to remove the blanket at least twice a week and check his hair coat, brushing him thoroughly looking for bumps, scaley skin, rub marks and missing hair...
 

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Sunday 11.00am
Thermometer say 2 deg C - just above freezing but up on the hill where the barn stands it is much colder probably because of the slight Easterly wind. My hands quickly freeze.
I check the girlie and she is warm - the rugs are doing their job.
I take both layers off and give her a quick groom. No scuff marks. She's OK. Quickly I put them both back on. She can go out into the paddock for a couple of hours, over midday.
It is going to be cold again tonight - they say minus 4 deg C but no snow. Barometer is high again at 1020. There will be no change until the barometer reading drops.
I muck out the stable, give her two water buckets and half a bale of hay. I have made up her lucky dip. The tea bucket can wait - I'll bring some parsnips up later on.
I put her out, She scampers off, He Shetland mate is there.
All is OK.
Then going home I frighten myself by sliding down sideways on the concrete road to the lane. It is covered in black ice.

A neighbour calls out "What a lovely day - sun is shining there's no wind, birds are twittering and there is noone about.
It is a pity it is bl***y freezing.
But DiDi is OK, she's got not one but two blankets to keep her warm.

B G
 

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I have been in your position before. Both my 24 yr olds have now passed on, just recently, one was blanketed, one was not, I could not find one to fit her well. In Saskatchewan it can get very cold -50 with a wind chill. If I could do things over there would be no blankets. I agree with everything everyone before me has said,about not blanketing and this winter I stopped with the blankets on my 3 reining horses. They are so much happier, not itchy or grumpy and have only had 4 days in stalls! I think it is healthier to be without. When they shiver, they are only keeping warm, putting a blanket on will lay the hairs flat and defeat the purpose. If you are going to blanket get the highest denier you can find. I like weatherbeeta and Big D. I always put summer rugs on to stop bugs and flys. Your horse looks great for his age, you should be proud.
 
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