Saturday, December 12, 2009

To Blanket or Not to Blanket...

What is YOUR position on this. Do you blanket? When?

Horses grow a winter coat and they stand the hair on end, trapping warm air next to the skin. This insulates them against the cold. When you put a blanket on them, it lays the hair down so they can't "puff up" and trap the warm air. This makes them colder in my opinion.

I will blanket a horse like Beau - he had very thin peach fuzz on his back, since it all fell out from the crud he came with, thus little/no protection.

I will blanket a thin horse that I'm trying to get weight back on.

I will blanket a horse that has little or no protection from wind or rain.

I will blanket a horse if the horse has gotten wet from rain, and temperature is supposed to be below freezing over-night.

Aside from that, I don't blanket. My horses have snow on their backs. Big deal! If they have snow on their back, that means that they are well insulated and warm.

Like Jazzy here

My neighbor blankets her horses if temp get below 40 degrees. With their blankets on, they NEVER have snow on their backs. WHY??? Because their body heat escapes through the blankets and melts the snow.

Now...that said, I live in a desert. We get very little precipitation. So far this year, not even an inch. If I lived in Western Washington where they have a TON of rain or in say...Minnesota, where they have harsh winters with more snow, I may change my position. But for now, my horses grow their own jammies and live like horses.


luvredponies said...

I am with you. We are in north central oregon. We just came through 2 weeks with temps between -15 and 5 degrees and a few of those days we had high winds. My horses are all well fed, have shelter from the wind and a tank heater to keep their water fluid. They range in age from 6 months to 19 years. I do not blanket any of them, and they are happy as can be. We have had some snow, and they will stand out in it, and like yours, the snow just sits on their back and doesn't melt. Their winter coat is doing exactly as nature intended and insulting their bodies from the cold. They have free access to hay and a loose salt/mineral mix. They are drinking a ton of water, but not really eating a lot more hay. They are all maintaining their weight very nicely, and I might even be able to call 2 of them fat (and i'm ok with that).

Sabrina said...

I live in Minnesota...and this is the first year I've blanketed my horse. Most of the reasons why have to do with protecting his tail from rubbing, keeping him clean, lessen the missing hair caused by play bites from his pasturemates, etc...not because of the cold. Even with temps well below zero and wind chills much lower the horses generally do just fine without blankets. Although we board our horse I'm still at the barn everyday to do morning chores and check on how warm he's staying...and a friend who does evening chores checks on him after the sun goes down and reports to me on his warmth status. We have a sheet, liner, and midweight blanket that we've been layering when necessary. We've had a LOT of snow already this year and it'll sit on his blanket like it does the other horses' backs. Thus far blanketing has been working great for us! He hasn't been too hot...nor too cold. He's clean. His tail is looking great...and he's not missing any hair due to bites from the other horses.

Katharine Swan said...

I consider myself a moderate blanketer -- I only blanket when it gets really cold, which in my opinion is in the teens and below. I also blanket anytime we're expecting snow, just in case his pasture mates don't let him in the shelter. Often this means putting Panama's blanket on in the evening and taking it off again in the morning, which is a lot of work, but I don't mind it.

I think some regard has to be given to differences between horses. I know Panama gets cold easily -- his coat doesn't get as thick as other horses', even when compared to others that are blanketed the same as (or even more than) him. And he's always displayed his preference not to be cold -- he's the first into the shelter, at even the first sign of precipitation or cold weather, and when he was stalled he would always stop using his run to pee or poop when the weather got cold.

Other horses do seem to do just fine in the cold. But I know my horse, and he HATES being cold. So I do try to blanket -- not as much as your neighbor, though, just when I feel Panama needs a little extra help staying warm!

Nikker said...

I have never blanketed anyone for any reason, until this year...the land lord wanted to blanket his old mule. So we are, it stresses me to now it too tight, is it rubbing and I can't see it, is she really staying warm enough, or is she happy with it? Ugh! I am not planning on doing this again any time soon...just as long as Becky needs it...then I'm done! Our kids are hairy, fat, and happy! When the temps drop usually, I just feed more and when its really cold I like to add alfalfa to their regular feed.

Drillrider said...

I blanket my 27 year old because he is a hard keeper, but my two fat mares have PLENTY of insulation!

I used to live in the PDX, OR area and blanketed in Winter just because of all the MUD. Now I live in Idaho and there is hardly any mud.........WAAAAA-HOOOO!

Drillrider said...

P.S. In your news story about Beau, the two pics of the "skinny" horses were my rescues. I bought them back from a woman who started a horse rescue and that is how they looked when I got them back. I wasn't trying to hijack your story, just wanted to point out that old does NOT equal skinny.....I send before and after pics to Hilary.

Karen V said...

Drillrider i think thatgs awesome! I wasnt worried about any hyjacking. I think it gave more "meat" to the story!

OneGoldenTeaspoonAQH said...

I don't blanket Lady...though it wouldn't hurt to start next winter or so seeing as she's getting older.

I personally don't think horses need blankets unless they:

1)Are older horses
2)Are thin (to any degree but moreso to overly thin horses)
3)Are being turned out of a heated barn

I mean the horses in the wild survive okay without them.

Anonymous said...

I just ordered a blanket for my mare and only intend to use it on especially windy rainy nights. She is young, healthy and is carting a few extra lbs. So unless it's a real nasty storm she wears her own pjs.

Michaela said...

Last winter I started out not blanketing my horse but I went to check up on him during a blizzard and he was shivering so I've blanketed since. I love in CT and there is often hail and icy rain so the horses can't use their coats if they're wet. It's just easier for me to blanket.