Much ado about blankets.
Blanketing a horse is seriously one of the most divisive issues among horse people. The topic can get quite heated and neither side ever wins.
Here is how we feel about blankets.
Our horses that are way too thin when we get them get blankets in the cold. Thin horses cannot keep themselves warm and lose more weight trying.
Our rescue horses that weigh enough but still shiver in the average cold for some odd reason get blanketed. We wouldn’t want to shiver all day. Sometimes old horses fit this category.
If there is freezing rain and wind coming and not enough room to bring all the rescue horses in (we aren’t talking snow) the outside ones get waterproof blankets. We don’t have run in sheds everywhere yet and they need the protection.
Young foals born way out of season sometimes get a blanket. This is case by case depending how their coat grows.
Horses battling an illness get blankets in the cold. After all, sick people want blankets (and chicken soup but for some reason our equines refuse that) so we feel like our horses want them too.
Horses traveling in open stock trailers in the cold get blanketed. (If they aren’t an un-handled kook we just spent 4 hours chasing in the frozen mud-it happens)
Other than that, we don’t blanket.
Some things to ponder when you are deciding what you are going to do.
If you put a blanket on continuously at the beginning of cold weather, you Must put a blanket on all winter because you will have stopped the natural thickening of the coat.
If you bought a horse in Florida and brought it to Cleveland, OH you will likely have to blanket. It won’t have “learned” to grow a coat yet but it probably will for next year.
Blankets have to fit well if they are worn a lot or your horse winds up with bloody holes in their withers or shoulders (that’s the worst case scenario but we’ve seen it). Actually usually they are just hairless but it makes them cranky just as you would be if your waistband constantly rubbed and pinched.
Straps Must all be snug and in good working order. Horses can break their leg or tear ligaments with straps left loose.
Some horses gleefully decorate their beautiful blankets with poop and mud. Lucky you-we got nothin for ya on that one. Blankets get filthy and stinky and are no fun to clean up. They often need repairs at the end of the season.
Non waterproof blankets are Not suitable for the majority of winter weather. If it is wet and cold out, these are actually cruel compared to leaving the horse undressed.
Eating hay heats a horse. The act of digesting it was designed to warm the equine. When it is cold, feed more hay.
Horses can actually stay pretty warm by sheltering in a stand of trees with a friend. Or 7. Mother Nature taught them to do this a long time ago. You may have built them a quite lovely wooden club house but they ignore it completely.
Snow accumulated on a horse’s back is Good. Do not sweep it off. It means the insulative properties of their coat is functioning well.
Don’t forget to keep their water tanks going. This is where we spend our money because horses don’t drink very cold water as well. Less drinking means more risk of colic and choke and more vet bills.
Sometimes blankets are necessary and sometimes they make us feel better. One thing is for certain. We have never heard of a properly fitted blanket killing a horse. Making an owner tip over into insanity….well that is a different story!
We are always available to answer questions to the best of our ability should you need some input.
Heart of Phoenix is on a Mission, with the RIGHT HORSE Initiative, to improve the lives of horses in transition + massively increase horse adoption in the United States. We are Good People for Good Horses. As partners of the #RIGHTHORSE, we want to spread the word about equine adoption through growing good partnerships. Our goal is to massively increase the number of successful horse adoptions in the United States by equipping potential adopters and horse owners with the knowledge they need to have a successful relationship with their equine friends. By working together we can do much to re-frame the conversations about ADOPTABLE horses in transition!