A: It’s best to blanket your horse only after he has cooled down and his hair is dried. Unless the blanket is permeable, it will trap the moisture closer to his skin, slowing the drying period and lengthening the time it takes for a hot horse to return to normal body temperature.
What is the best winter blanket for horses?
- The waterproof cover: Waterproof turnout horse blankets are used mainly in the fall or winter.
- The outdoor or turnout cover: The outdoor cover is intended for horses living in the meadow.
- Full coverage blankets: This outdoor cover model includes a neck cover,which can be removable or detachable.
At what temperature should I blanket my horse?
Here are some general guidelines: Body Clipped Horses: Start blanketing when the temperature gets below 60°F, or anytime it is rainy or windy. Moderate Hair Coat Horses: Start blanketing when the temperature goes below 40°F. Heavy Hair Coat Horses: Start blanketing when the temperatures go below 30°F.
How do you tell if your horse needs a blanket?
If your horse is out in the rain or sleet, they should be in a waterproof blanket. That may be a waterproof sheet that’s thrown over a heavier blanket, or a water proof blanket. Again, if they get soaked through the blanket, they lose the insulating ability of the blanket as well as the hair coat.
How do I know if my horse is too cold?
Common signs of your horse being too cold are:
- Shivering. Horses, like people, shiver when they’re cold.
- A tucked tail can also indicate that a horse is trying to warm up. To confirm, spot-check her body temperature.
- Direct touch is a good way to tell how cold a horse is.
When should I blanket my horse in the rain?
Counterargument: Although, ideally, you would let the horse dry before putting on a blanket, it’s more important that the blanket be on if the temps dip after a rain. It’s OK to put on a blanket on a wet horse. The blanket will wick the moisture away from the horse and the extra moisture will evaporate.
Do horses need rain sheets?
Rain Sheets The purpose of the rain sheet is to keep the horse dry in wet weather. It’s very important to buy a rain sheet made of breathable fabric. In warm weather, horses can quickly become overheated and sweat in a rain sheet.
Do horses shiver when cold?
Shivering is a sure sign that your horse is cold. Reflexive contractions of the muscles, shivering helps the body keep warm but at great metabolic cost. If you find a horse shivering, immediately help him warm up with a blanket or shelter.
Do horses feet get cold?
Though horses sometimes stand in deep snow, their lower limbs and hooves almost never suffer damage from the cold. This is because the legs below the knees and hocks are made up mostly of bones and tendons, tissues that don’t freeze easily.
Is it OK if my horse is shivering?
They may shiver. However, shivering is also just a perfectly normal way to warm up, so a warm horse may shiver for a short while when he is cold and be happy. Horses really appreciate some sort of shelter on those wet days, so they can dry off a bit and get warm.
Is it better for a horse to be hot or cold?
In the absence of wind and moisture, horses tolerate temperatures at or slightly below 0° F. If horses have access to a shelter, they can tolerate temperatures as low as -40° F. But horses are most comfortable at temperatures between 18° and 59° F, depending on their hair coat.
Do horses get cold in the rain?
“If a horse’s coat gets wet in rain or snow, it can dramatically chill them. You may need to bring them inside a barn to dry and warm up,” Coleman said. Horses are very resilient and tolerant to the cold. They can withstand air temperatures down to around 13 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can I put a blanket on my wet horse?
Make sure blankets are kept dry and do not put a blanket on a wet horse; wait until the horse is dry before blanketing. Days that the temperature becomes warm remove the blanket so the horse does not sweat and become wet under the blanket. Air out the blanket and dry out the horse’s hair coat.
Why do people put blankets over horses?
Blankets are primarily used to shield horses from varying weather conditions and climates. Providing your horse with the best fit, comfort and protection is vital for your peace of mind. The right blanket choice will help to regulate your horse’s body temperature and maintain a healthy condition.
Is it OK to put a saddle on a wet horse?
Yes, you can put tack on a wet horse; however, it is not recommended on a regular basis. A horse’s skin is protected by a coat of hair, and therefore, not much damage will be done if you tack up and ride your horse for short periods while they are wet.
Horse Blanketing FAQs – The Horse
The principle is straightforward: if your horse is chilly, cover him with a blanket. Take it off when he is no longer chilly. But, short of observing him shivering in his bell boots, how can you tell if he’s feeling chilly at all? In such case, what kind of blanket does he require? Is it going to leave rub marks? Blanketing does not have to be a difficult task. According to two Extension experts who work as horse owners’ educators for a living. They’ll address your most frequently asked inquiries about equestrian clothing right here.
Does my horse need a blanket this winter?
In a nutshell, the answer is probably no. Horses’ bodies are extremely well-adapted to withstand even the most extreme temperatures. You’ll notice that their coats begin to alter and grow as the days go shorter and the nights become cooler, which normally happens around September. In addition to being temperature-dependent, Bob Coleman, MS, PhD, a former resident of Alberta, Canada, is now an associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. “Changes in the hair coat are as much light-dependent as they are temperature-dependent,” he says.
Waite is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Department of Animal Sciences.
But what if my horse is body-clipped?
If you ride your horse sufficiently throughout the winter to merit trace or body clipping, you should consider providing him with some form of weather protection. “Even if they’re inside, if it’s cold in the barn and they’re not moving around much, it might be beneficial to provide them with a little protection to keep the body heat they’re generating in,” says Coleman. “It might be beneficial to give them a little protection to keep the body heat they’re generating in.” When temperatures begin to rise into the 40s, cover your body-clipped horse with a light or midweight blanket, and when temps fall below freezing, switch to a thicker blanket for further warmth.
What do you mean by light-,mid-, or heavyweight?
This is one of the reasons why our horses frequently have wardrobes that are on par with our own. Warmth and management aspects are taken into consideration when blanket producers describe their products as light, mid, or heavyweight. This allows them to cater to a wide variety of temperatures and conditions. The bigger (heavier) the fill weight of a blanket, according to Waite, the warmer the blanket will be. “Knowing which blanket to use will depend on your horse’s coat and condition, the surroundings, and how they are maintained (whether they are kept indoors or outside, for example).” Fortunately, blanket manufacturers typically give advice on which of their blankets should be used in specific scenarios, so be sure to inquire about these when you’re shopping for a new blanket.
What size blanket does myhorse need?
The answer to this question is a little clearer cut than the last one. According to Waite, the best way to determine the blanket size for your horse is to position him square and insert a measuring tape in the center of his chest, just below the point where the neck joins the body. Make sure you have a helper to draw the tape around the horse’s chest and largest section of its shoulder, as well as down the side of the horse’s body to the point of the buttocks, which should be approximately 10 inches below the tailhead, according to the author.
(Coleman recommends purchasing a long tape measure that will run the whole length of your horse from a fabric or hardware store.) Despite the fact that “blanket sizes are normally quite uniform,” Waite points out that there may be subtle variations across brands.
According to Coleman, while fitting a blanket, make sure any leg straps are tight and teach your horse to wear the blanket in his stall before letting him out in it.
How do I know if my horse is getting too warm under his blanket?
If your horse begins to perspire under his blanket, he is likely to be overheated. However, this is not always visible, so be on the lookout for subtle symptoms. Equine natural tendencies on chilly days, for example, are to migrate toward the sun. This approach for warming up the horse is successful enough that you may detect steam pouring from the front of the blanket or around the horse’s withers as a result of using it. Coleman explains that in certain instances, the temperature is becoming too high, and that it is not always the additional heat that is the problem, but rather the moisture.
“Once the sun sets, they’ll be wet and chilly, and they’ll begin to shiver,” Coleman explains.
Blanketing Cheat Sheet
When making blanketing decisions, keep this guidance as a reference in mind. The thickness of your horse’s clipped or unclipped coat, whether he’s turned out or stabled, the amount of precipitation or wind, as well as his age and health state, all influence which blanket, if any, you pick.
|Above 50° F||no blanket||no blanket or just a sheet|
|40-50° F||no blanket||sheet or lightweight|
|30-40° F||no blanket, or only a lightweight||mid- to heavyweight|
|20-30° F||no blanket, or a light- to midweight||heavyweight|
|10-20° F||mid- to heavyweight||heavyweight plus a sheet or liner|
|Below 10° F||heavyweight||heavyweight plus a sheet or liner or neck cover|
Will blanketing my horse one winter prevent him from growing a good coat the next?
Nope. Several of our sources concur that this old wives’ tale has no basis in fact. The change in seasons and shorter days lead your horse’s body to begin preparing for the colder months ahead, just as it does every year on the same day.
According to Coleman, “I’ve seen a number of horses who have had blankets on, and when you send them out (the next winter), they morph into Thelwell ponies, who are as happy as they possibly can be.”
My horse is moving to a different climate mid-winter; what do I do?
A horse travelling north will, without a doubt, have a more harder transition than a horse moving south will have. “Horses who do not have winter coats should be covered and hooded, and they should be regularly monitored for shivering, weight loss, and other signs of illness,” advises Waite in the case of a mid-winter transfer north. In particular, “These horses will be extremely vulnerable to cold and will require suitable shelter, particularly during their first year.” A blanket with a greater insulation value is recommended for travelers who will be traveling to colder climates, according to Coleman.
” “You might need to lower the insulation value or remove the blanket entirely,” or perhaps body clip him if he’s getting too hot to handle.
“Give them a year, and they’ll figure it out if we adjust their hair coat development.” They have a natural aptitude for hair growth on a biological level.”
Does a foal born in winter need a blanket?
Whether or whether a February foal requires a blanket is determined on his surroundings. For example, Coleman advises against rushing out to get a blanket for the newborn foal, who should be kept in a well-bedded stable shielded from the wind. “If they are in a warm barn, they may not require a blanket, but more often than not, foals born in the winter may benefit from blankets in order to keep their body heat,” adds Waite. “If they are in a heated barn, they may not require a blanket.” Horses born in the winter in northern countries are normally kept indoors and turned out for brief periods of time, usually covered with a blanket,” explains the author.
Does my senior horse need a blanket?
Some of the physiological changes that horses go through as they age can lead some horseowners to cover their animals. Many people no longer have the muscular mass and fat storage that they had in their prime, and as a result, their body condition score declines. Coleman recommends blanketing older horses that have scores lower than 5, particularly to keep them protected from the elements, such as the wind. His explanation: “Those horses who are a bit slimmer are going to grow a significantly different hair coat.” “It’ll be lengthier and a touch rougher, but it won’t be much thicker,” says the author.
How do I prevent those ugly rub marks?
Purchase a blanket that is the proper size! Measure your horse according to the instructions on the preceding page to check that his blanket fits properly and make any necessary alterations. As Waite points out, “blanket liners and shoulder protectors will also aid in preventing this problem.” It should be simple to slip your hand beneath the blanket and up your shoulder. ” “If it pinches or is too tight in here or any other region, friction may result.”
According to what has been discovered, blanketing involves a significant amount of responsibility. As Waite explains, “it’s not as simple as just blanketing your horses and having them go free.” The blankets must be kept dry at all times, and they must be changed when they become damp. They must also be checked on a daily basis. “We throw blankets on, don’t check to see if they fit properly, don’t check to see if they’re keeping dry, and then we wonder why they don’t function,” Coleman continues.
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Should I Blanket My Horse in the Winter? — Irongate Equine Clinic
The maximum temperature in Madison, WI today is -4°F, and the temperature feels like -23°F right now, and we’re all suffering because of it! Because we’re all concerned about our horses’ well-being while they’re out in the cold, we’ve gathered to discuss the ever-present blanketing issue with you. “Should I cover my horse with a blanket during the winter?” Watch Dr. Lisa Nesson’s presentation, or read on for more information.
What About the Hair Coat?
If you’ve allowed your horse to develop a full winter coat, that coat will be more than capable of keeping them warm, providing you’ve met a few conditions, of course. Full-length hair coats are extremely insulating, provided that the hair is allowed to stand up. If it’s pouring outside, the moist weather will flatten the hair coat, destroying its insulating properties and rendering it useless. This means you’ll need to make sure you have a high-quality, water-resistant winter blanket or a shelter for your horse to stand under in this situation.
You shouldn’t simply throw a light blanket over them; you should go the whole hog and use a fully certified winter blanket, have many blankets accessible for different temps, or allow them grow out a hair coat to keep them warm.
Prerequisites to NOT Blanketing
A large number of prudent horse owners have content horses who do not require blankets. However, there are several conditions to using this method.
- Your horse will benefit from a thick winter hair coat. For further information on why, see the section above. Outside, your horse should be protected by some type of shelter. A three-sided shed is more than sufficient. Use of a windbreak, whether in the shape of a wall or a line of trees, may be possible. Three-sided sheds should be south-facing and large enough to accommodate all horses entering and exiting the shed. Do you think it’s going to rain or sleet this weekend? If this is the case, the rain will soak through the horse’s hair coat. Because it is laid flat, the coat’s insulation is no longer effective against the elements. In the absence of a constant usage of a shed, you’ll most likely need a waterproof blanket
- Horses want access to water, and they require lots of it. He or she must be able to get to it
- It cannot be frozen and must be easily available. Last but not least, that last sentence is quite significant! You may have water accessible, but if there is an ice rink surrounding your water bucket, your horses may refuse to drink because they do not want to risk crossing the ice to get to the water. Maintaining a safe access to the water by limiting excessive spillage in higher temps is essential. They also require a plentiful supply of food. Your feed can be in the shape of long stem hay or hay cubes, or it can be derived from a variety of alternative forage sources, but it must be readily accessible. If you want to learn more about why fodder is so crucial in the winter, you may read what Dr. Howard Ketover has to say about feeding your horse in the winter (hint: it’s what keeps them warm). Depending on how old or young your horse is, they may require a blanket to keep them warm. Those who are really young or elderly may require blanketing in order to preserve their bodily condition
- Your horse’s well-being is essential. Because blanketing your horse might help them preserve their energy for other purposes such as maintaining their body condition rather than getting warm, it is recommended if your horse has been unwell or is already in poor body condition.
Now that you’ve determined that your horse does, in fact, require a blanket, you must make certain that you get the proper blanket. Here are some general guidelines:
- If possible, it should be well-fitting so that it does not rub against the withers or the shoulders. The blanketstraps should be fitted tightly to their bodies so that they do not get their legs tangled in the blanketstraps and that the blanket does not slip and scrape against their bodies. It must be assessed according to the weather conditions under which they are turned out. If they’re designed for cooler temperatures, they may become overheated and begin to sweat. A blanket that isn’t heavy enough for the cold temperature in which they’re living may cause their hair coat to fall out, and this will most likely do more harm than good in terms of insulating them against the elements. For the fall and winter seasons, you may find that you need more than one blanket to cover yourself with. It is recommended that if your horse is out in the rain or sleet, they be wrapped in a water-resistant blanket. It might be a waterproof sheet that is draped over a thicker blanket, or it could be a water resistant blanket that is used in the shower. As previously said, if they become soaked through the blanket, they will lose the insulating properties of the blanket, as well as the hair coat
- Every couple of days, the blanket should be examined for damage and removed. You’ll need to do this to ensure that the blanket is still fitting properly and to examine the horse’s body condition under the cover to ensure that they haven’t lost too much weight as a result of the cold weather.
- A winter coat is not necessary if you have an adult horse with a full winter coat, appropriate shelters, water, and food, and is in good health and physical shape
- But, if you do not have an adult horse, you should consider getting one. Make certain that your horse’s blanket is well-fitting, correctly placed on, waterproof in the rain, and rated for the weather if you wish to blanket him. Every few days, take the blanket off your horse to check on him.
Remember that every horse is different, so if you have any doubts, you should consult with your veterinarian to establish whether or not they should be blanketed. Please contact Irongate Equine Clinic if you have any particular queries, and we would be happy to assist you!
Does My Horse Need A Blanket?: Debunking the 5 Biggest Myths About Blanketing Horses — Dr. Barbara Parks, PT, DPT, CERP: The Horse PT
The subject of when to blanket horses comes up every year around this time, and I get a lot of responses. Social media is awash with messages debating the issue in one direction or the other. Because your horse isn’t covered, a buddy at the barn accuses you of being a horrible horse parent or horse mom or dad. Someone else claims that blankets are unnatural and that horses should never be allowed to wear them. But, if I’m chilly, it’s safe to assume that my horse is as well. right? How are we expected to know what to do when there are so many strong ideas on both sides of the political spectrum?
Given the vast amount of misinformation that exists about horses, particularly regarding blanketing, I’ve decided to debunk 5 of the most common myths about blanketing horses in order to hopefully provide you with a little more clarity in order to help you make the best decision for you and your horse this winter.
Myth1: Horses need blankets to stay warm in the winter.
Reality: Most horses do not use blankets to keep warm, even in the most freezing of conditions. Some horses, on the other hand, are utterly reliant on a blanket to keep warm. Horses who are elderly, ill, wounded, or underweight are far more likely to require the additional insulation that a blanket offers. Horses that have had their hair clipped will also require blankets to compensate for the hair that has been gone. A horse that has just been imported from a warmer region may not be able to grow a thick enough coat and may require a blanket to keep warm.
If your horse has access to shelter and free choice hay, is eating and drinking properly, and is not shivering, it is unlikely that you will need to cover that horse during the colder winter months.
Myth2: If you’re cold, then your horse is cold.
Reality: Nothing could be further from the truth in this case. Horses develop thick winter coats to help them stay warm and comfortable throughout the chilly winter months. Horses, on the other hand, may get chilly! So, how do you figure it out? The ears, armpits, and area around the udder/sheath area of the horse are all places where some individuals will feel the horse to see if it is warm or cold. This is a useful strategy, but it is not without its flaws. When your hands are already chilly, a frigid horse may seem warm to you at other times as well.
- Generally speaking, if the horse is standing with his tail tightly clasped and his abdominal muscles appear “sucked up,” he is most certainly chilled.
- Checking the horse’s vitals is another approach to determine whether or not he is chilly.
- Knowing what “normal” looks like for your horse is critical, which is why checking vital signs on a regular basis throughout the year is a good practice.
- If you have any reason to believe that your horse has acquired hypothermia, contact your veterinarian immediately!
Myth3: It’s better to throw the blanket on just in case – even if my horse might not really need it.
Reality: Providing a horse with an excessive amount of blanket that he does not require may be just as terrible as providing him with insufficient blanket. The blanketing of a horse is unnecessary since it prevents him from developing a thick winter coat, which makes it more difficult for him to cope with colder weather.
If a horse begins to sweat under his blanket and the moisture is unable to drain, he may become significantly cooler than he would have been if the blanket had not been used at all.
Myth4: My horse needs a blanket if its snowing.
Horses really perform fairly well in the snow, despite popular belief. In the cold, their coats stand up on edge, creating an insulating barrier between their skin and the outer world. Snow will frequently accumulate on top of the horse’s mane and tail, trapping air between the horse and the snow and keeping the horse warm. Instead, when it is chilly and wet, horses are more likely to require additional blanketing to keep warm. Light rain will drain away from the surface in the same way as snow does.
When using blankets that are not waterproof, proceed with caution!
Myth5: If I blanket my horse, he won’t grow a winter coat
Actuality: He will, in fact, continue to grow a winter coat, but it will not be quite as long or thick as it would have been without the blanketing. Blanketing the horse will help compress the hairs, rather than letting them to stand up on end, which is beneficial for insulating purposes. It is possible that if the blanket is not sufficiently thick, the horse will become much colder. It can also create the idea that the horse has less of a winter coat than he actually has by making him appear to have less.
Wishing you all the best this winter and staying warm out there!
When to Blanket a Horse
The long winter hair coat acts as insulation, minimizing the loss of body heat, and serves as the body’s first line of defense against the elements of the winter season. Whenever the horse becomes wet and/or muddy, the insulating properties of the blanket are compromised. As a result, in cold, wet weather, give a dry, sheltered space. What factors should you consider when deciding whether or not to blanket your horse?
Blanketing a horse is necessary to reduce the effects of cold and inclement weather when
- While turnout times are in effect, there is no cover available if the temperature drops below 5 degrees F or the wind chill drops below 5 degrees F. If the horse gets wet (which is less likely to happen in snow, but more likely to happen in rain, ice, and/or freezing rain), the rider may have to stop and dry the animal. The horse’s winter coat has been cut in preparation for exhibiting. The horse is either really young or extremely elderly
- It is possible that the horse has not yet been adapted to the cold (for example, if it has recently been transported from a southern area)
- When a horse’s body condition score is 3 or lower, it is considered to be in poor health.
It is critical that the blanket be the suitable size for the horse. Make certain that you have the correct size for the horse.
- Horses might acquire rub scars or sores if the straps holding the blanket on them are not correctly adjusted. If the horse is covered continually, the blanket should be removed on a regular basis to be examined for damage and repositioned if the animal has twisted. Make certain that blankets are maintained dry, and avoid blanketing a wet horse
- Instead, wait until the horse is completely dry before blanketing. Alternatively, remove a damp blanket from a horse to prevent it from being chilly. When the temperature rises above freezing, remove the blanket to prevent the horse from sweating and becoming damp below the blanket. Allowing the blanket to air out and the horse’s hair coat to dry is recommended.
Air is trapped by the horse hair coat, which works as insulation; however, if the hair is damp or muddy, air is removed, diminishing the coat’s insulating effectiveness and increasing heat loss. Cold stress can be caused by as little as 0.1 inch of rain, which causes the hair to become frizzy and reduces its insulating properties. It is critical to keep the horse dry and protected from the elements. Woolly horses with a thicker hair coat can retain more heat, making it necessary to refrain from blanketing them at times.
To Blanket or Not?
Horse owners all around the world begin an obsessive daily argument in the early fall, when temperatures begin to drop at night and we begin to dig out our own winter gear from storage. The question: Does my horse need a blanket today? is the topic of discussion. As a result of the different blanketing alternatives available and the multiple circumstances that influence this decision, you might easily drive yourself insane trying to decide when to blanket and which cover to use. Fortunately, there are some simple guidelines to follow.
Her strategy is to adhere to a few simple principles, establish flexible guidelines, and avoid overthinking the situation. courtesy of Frank Sorge/Arnd.nL
Unclipped Vs. Clipped
The amount of blanketing your horse requires is determined on whether or not he has been body clipped. According to Max, the following are the best practices for the various situations:
- Unclipped: Horses who are healthy, in good condition, and who have not been clipped at all throughout the fall or winter do not require blanketing or other protection. This is due to the fact that they contain built-in insulation. When it’s chilly, their hair automatically puffs up, allowing them to retain more body heat. In damp conditions, “the rule goes out the window,” Max explains. The presence of a little rain or snow isn’t a major concern
- But, when precipitation saturates the coat, the horse’s hair cannot fluff up to keep him warm. If your unclipped horse’s coat is really dusty or mud-caked, he may struggle to remain warm, so be sure to groom him on a regular basis.
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- Trace-clipped: A trace clip is used to remove hair from the chest, abdomen, and lower regions of the neck and flanks, among other places. When ridden, this sort of clip prevents a horse from overheating, but it also allows some of his winter coat to remain to offer warmth when the horse is not active. As Max explains it, “for every layer you remove from your horse by cutting, you must put back on him by blanketing.” It is my opinion that it is a common misperception that a trace-clipped horse has a lot of hair. The neck, the stomach, and the shoulders are still key muscular areas that retain heat after all this time. “If that’s where you clip them, they have nothing to protect themselves from you.” She applies one fewer layer to a horse with a trace clip than she does to a horse with a full body clip
- Clipped to the body: A full clip removes all of the hair from a horse’s body, with the option of leaving the legs unclipped. Because of this procedure, the coat is no longer able to give warmth or protection. When the temperature drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, a sheet is at a bare minimum required.
A blanket collection may quickly become overwhelming and difficult to manage. Using only three items of horse apparel, Max attempts to keep things as simple as possible: a turnout sheet, a medium stable blanket, and a heavy turnout blanket. In addition to a medium stable blanket with a turnout sheet on top, a medium stable blanket with two belly straps to keep it in place works just as well in an emergency situation. Leg straps are useful for horses that are difficult to fit and who have blankets that tend to shift.
Also keep in mind that while stable bedding and turnout sheets are suitable for use both indoors and outdoors, turnout sheets and blankets are not waterproof and should only be used indoors unless they are covered with a waterproof coating.
When it comes to insulation, the more fill a blanket has, the more insulation it gives.
- Turnout sheet/light turnout blanket – a water-resistant covering that shields a horse from wind and rain while providing just a minimum amount of warmth. None–100g
- Fill: None–100g
- This non-waterproof blanket is intended for indoor usage only
- It will not protect a horse from rain, but it will give some warmth in the winter. 200g–280g of filling
- Medium turnout is a waterproof blanket that provides some warmth while also protecting a horse from the elements such as rain and wind. 200g–280g of filling
- Heavy turnout is a waterproof blanket that gives a great deal of warmth while also protecting a horse from the elements. Portion size: 300 to 400 g
courtesy of Frank Sorge/Arnd.nL
Weather Conditions and Environment
Remember to take into account your horse’s basic living circumstances when estimating how the weather will influence your blanketing decisions. Wind, for example, is not a worry for horses kept in a stable environment. Some barn doors may even be closed tightly, allowing the animals’ body heat to keep the barn warm and comfortable throughout the winter. Place one thermometer inside the barn and one outside the barn to calculate the temperature difference between the two. If you haven’t already, check them late at night or early in the morning.
In a pasture, do you have a shelter where your horse can get out of the wind, the rain, or even the snow when he’s out in the elements?
- Weather conditions get cooler as a result of the wind. Considering the wind-chill effect and blanketing your horse according to the “feels like” temperature is recommended if your horse does not have shelter in his field.
- Body-clipped horses left out in temps below 60 degrees should be covered with at least a turnout sheet or a light turnout blanket to protect themselves from the elements. A turnout sheet or light blanket is frequently placed on the unclipped horses as well if it’s anticipated to be below 55 degrees and raining for the most of the night, and the horses are left outdoors without access to shelter during that time. Keep in mind that wetness might make it feel colder, which can affect the “feels like” temperature calculation.
- In the event of freezing rain or sleet, it may be necessary to bring your horse indoors to keep him warm. It is difficult for horses to stay warm in this sort of weather, not only because it is extremely cold, but also because it might flatten or saturate their coats. You should evaluate the “feels like” temperature while deciding whether or not to turn him out. You should also provide him with some form of protection, such as a shed, grove of trees, or a blanket.
Too Hot or Too Cold?
As Max points out, “Just because you’re chilly does not imply that your horse is cold.” Okay, but how can you determine whether your horse is suffering from a cold? In this case, it indicates that he feels cold and is attempting to warm himself. Additionally, a shivering horse burns more calories, increasing the likelihood of weight loss. Another method of determining whether or not your horse is chilly is to gently touch his nose and ears with your bare hand. If they are chilly to the touch, it is likely that the rest of him is as well.
It is possible for your horse to become overheated when beneath his blanket, or he may become chilly if wet hair holds the moisture against his body for an extended period of time.
Simply lay your naked hand on his shoulder inside the blanket and close your eyes.
Remove his blanket or replace it with one that is of a lower weight—but only after he has had enough time to dry thoroughly.
It is preferable for him to be a bit cold for a short period of time than to be overly hot for an extended period of time. Turn him out in the clothing that he will be wearing for the bulk of the time.
Type of Horse
When it comes to blanketing considerations, the breed and kind of horse may play a role because certain horses are naturally hot or chilly. For example, Thoroughbreds tend to carry less body weight and grow less coat than heavier breeds, which means they are more susceptible to becoming chilly than larger breeds. There are, of course, exceptions to any rule. According to Max, it all comes down to the old adage of ‘know your horse.’ “I’ve tended after warmbloods who became cold and the other way around.
He usually had one less rug on his feet than the rest of the group.
“If I have a horse who runs chilly, I’ll put a therapeutic sheet underneath him because it leverages the horse’s own body heat to raise the heat in his muscles.” Photo courtesy of Amy K.
“Hay adds gasoline to the fire,” Max explains. A horse’s digestive system produces heat as it breaks down feed, which helps to keep him warm. Maintain a plentiful supply of high-quality hay throughout the winter, whether your horse is wearing a blanket or not, especially when grass is scarce or there is frost or snow on the ground.
Age and Health
Horses’ ability to keep themselves warm might be affected by their age. Older horses have a slower rate of digestion and may have a more difficult time maintaining their weight. Additionally, some horses may have less muscle and have a thinner winter coat, but this varies from horse to horse. “It can be more difficult for them to keep warm or to warm back up again as they become older,” Max explains. When it comes to health difficulties or “difficult keepers,” a horse that has a hard time retaining weight in winter may require assistance in getting warm by being indoors at night or during bad weather and donning a blanket to keep warm.
A horse that is 18 years old may be more susceptible to becoming chilly than a horse who is 25 years old.
Throughout the winter, keep an eye on any older horses to see if they are losing weight, changing in bodily condition, or showing indications of being cold.
A Good Fit
An ill-fitting blanket is not only unpleasant, but it also has a negative impact on the blanket’s ability to keep a horse comfortable. A blanket that is overly large might slip backward and slide sideways, exposing significant areas of the body and putting the wearer at risk of entanglement in the blanket. It is possible that a blanket that is too tiny would restrict his movement, create rubs, or even induce hair loss, and will not keep him very warm. “It’s nice to be able to draw a blanket forward just a little bit so that the horse may put his head down without suffocating himself.” Although it should cover the full hindquarters and top of the tail bone, Max recommends that it cover the complete hindquarters.
Follow the instructions for measuring each blanket.
It’s important to experiment with several sizes and brands until you discover one that works well for your horse.
It is also possible to prevent rubbing by wearing ashoulder guard (a lightweight, elastic, fitting garment). In its original form, this essay appeared in the October 2018 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.
Should I blanket my horse?
Teresa Martinoli, DVM, is a veterinarian. This is a question that horse owners frequently ask themselves throughout the fall and winter months. The quick answer is: most likely not! The majority of horses do not require blanketing. Horses are naturally adapted to dealing with cold weather, and they do not succumb to the cold nearly as quickly as we do as people. During really cold weather, their long and thick winter coat can “puff out,” trapping air between the hairs, which helps to keep them warm and protected.
- Newborn foals, underweight or emaciated horses, ill horses (potentially) and, of course, body clipped animals are among those who may require blanketing.
- Horses that have access to a decent shed where they can get out of the rain or snow are usually OK without blankets throughout the winter.
- An incorrectly fitting blanket can cause rubbing, muscular pain, and even lameness if it is not properly adjusted.
- (If the straps are very lengthy, consider tying them in knots to make them shorter.) Make certain that the horse is not overheating!
- Many horses wind up sweating under their sheets and blankets, which can cause them to really get a cold when the temperature lowers, as well as to develop skin disease or become unwell.
- All too often in the spring, I see frail horses that have been wrapped in a blanket all winter, preventing their owners from seeing how thin they have gotten.
- On the exterior, they may appear damp, but on the inside, they may appear dry close to the horse; this is normal.
- If you are unable to check and replace blankets on a regular basis, up to twice daily if required, I would propose that you should not blanket at all.
Overheating, being entangled in the blanket, the blanket slipping or not fitting properly, and/or the horse’s weight not being checked properly can all result in more damage than just not blanketing the horse at all.
To Blanket or not to Blanket? That’s a Good Cold-Weather Question
David Preston captured this image. Dr. Luke Bass contributed to this article. Winter months from late fall to early spring are often characterized by reduced activity for both horse and rider, but maintaining a high level of attention to horse health and management is essential during the colder months. While working as an equine veterinarian, I’m frequently questioned about blanketing horses during the winter months. The hair coat of the horse and the temperature of the surrounding environment are the most important factors to consider while blanketing him.
In the first place, it’s crucial to understand that horses are naturally equipped to tolerate cold and wind, with the important proviso that they require cover or a windbreak, in addition to appropriate cold-season diet and nourishment.
horses who do not live in severely cold locations – defined as temperatures that are frequently below 10°F – will manage well without a blanket if they are either stopped during the lowest temperatures or have access to a protective shelter during the coldest temperatures A horse’s diet and nutrition are also important considerations when it comes to blanketing, as the horse creates body heat through digestive action.
- Make sure your horse gets enough calories and, most importantly, that he gets enough fodder, which is normally in the form of hay, to keep him warm and comfortable in the cold weather.
- As long as your horse has access to shelter, this feature, along with the inherent insulating powers of his winter coat, will allow him to live peacefully in any climate, regardless of how cold it gets outside.
- One advantage of blanketing is that it helps to maintain a short-haired show coat, which reduces the amount of time spent grooming your horse’s body during the colder months when you are showing.
- Take into consideration a partial clip rather than a complete clip for the advantages of easily cleaned sweaty places and a thick hair covering in other parts.
- Horses living in really cold climates – again, regions where the temperature is frequently below 10°F – may benefit from blankets to offer the additional warmth required, particularly when protective shelter is not available.
As an added benefit, when a horse is relocated from one location to another that is significantly colder, a blanket can assist the horse in becoming accustomed to the new environment.
Here are a few blanketing guidelines to keep in mind:
- Listed below are some recommendations for blanketing:
Cleaning blankets properly is important for the product’s lifetime, but keep in mind that most are line-dried, so either get a quick-drying blanket or keep a backup on hand. When washing or rinsing your blanket, make sure that all of the fasteners and attachments are securely fastened to the blanket and that the blanket is not slipping. A slipping blanket might cause your horse to get frightened, which may result in harm. Unless you are preparing your horse for a show, blanketing is a personal preference.
Consult your equine veterinarian for further information on how to care for your horse throughout the winter months, as well as the most up-to-date information on diet, dental care, and other preventative medicine procedures.
Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Dr.
Call (970) 297-5000 if you need to get in touch with our Equine Services staff.
When to Blanket a Horse: Ask the Expert
I’m a little perplexed about whether or not to cover my horse throughout the winter. In my childhood, horses were kept outdoors and unblanked throughout the winter months, which I found to be rather pleasant. The horses were provided with shelter. As of now, I’m boarding my horse, and everyone else at the stable covers their horses and thinks I’m insane for not doing so as well. While outside, the horse does have access to some form of shelter. Could you possibly provide me with some recommendations for blanketing over the winter?
When it comes to reducing the impacts of cold or inclement weather on a horse, blanketing is important in the following situations:
- When there is no cover available during turnout times and the temperatures drop below 5°F or the wind chill drops below 5°F, it is a dangerous situation. While snow is unlikely to cause problems, it is possible that the horse will become wet (this is more often with rain, freezing rain, and/or freezing rain during cold temperatures). The horse’s winter coat has been cut, and it is looking good. The horse is either really young or extremely elderly
- It is possible that the horse has not yet been adapted to the cold (for example, if it has recently been transported from a southern area)
- When a horse’s body condition score is 3 or less, it indicates that the horse is in good condition.
Because the days are getting shorter, a horse’s natural winter coat will continue to develop until December 22 (Winter Solstice). As the days become longer, horses begin to shed their winter coats and begin to grow their summer coats in their place. Blanketing a horse before December 22 will result in a reduction in the animal’s natural winter coat. Marcia Hathaway, PhD, is a professor at the University of Minnesota. This article, as well as others on horse nutrition, may be found at
At What Temperature Should I Blanket My Horse?
Bring up the question of the temperature at which a horse need a blanket if you want to ignite a debate among horse enthusiasts. Numerous home and business owners believe that blankets are unnecessary, even in the harshest temperatures. Some people prefer to wrap themselves when it gets chilly in the fall on the first frigid day of the season. The latter frequently have a considerable assortment of blankets for their horses, including light, medium, and heavy blankets.
Horses Who Require Blankets
Regardless of the temperature, certain horses must be covered with blankets throughout the winter. These are some examples:
- Horses with clipped coats
- Horses with clipped tails Horses in their golden years
- Foals or weanlings
- Horses that are underweight and in poor health Horses that have been transported from a warm climate to a chilly climate
- Inclement weather, damp weather, or temperatures or wind chills below 5 degrees Fahrenheit are all reasons to leave horses out in a field with no cover.
If you don’t cut your horse’s coat, it should grow long enough to provide enough insulation against all but the most extreme conditions. A natural coat should not be blanketed on a horse until after the winter solstice on December 22, according to University of Minnesota Extension experts. Because it is the day at which winter coat growth ceases, blanketing your horse before that date will reduce the amount of hair that develops on him. It’s important to remember that snow may actually aid to insulate a horse’s coat.
Blanketing Clipped Horses
You should cut your horse’s mane and tail if you plan to exhibit or ride him frequently during the winter months. When he exercises in a winter coat, he will sweat more than usual, and the prolonged cooling-off period in cold weather is an invitation to disease. Put a light blanket over him while the temperature is around 40 degrees. When the temperature dips below 30 degrees, he need a medium-weight blanket, and when the temperature descends below 20 degrees or below, he requires a heavy-weight blanket.
While this temperature gauge is an excellent point of reference for unclipped horses that require blankets, such as healthy young or old equines, consult your veterinarian about the blanketing requirements for animals in poor condition or those with particular needs before using it.
- Because winter temperatures might fluctuate from day to day, you must ensure that your horse is properly blanketed. While sweating under an overly heavy winter blanket, a horse might get dehydrated and acquire a cold.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years and has published several books. In addition to reporting for a large newspaper chain, she has been published in a number of publications, including “Horse News,” “Suburban Classic,” “Hoof Beats,” “Equine Journal,” and other similar publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University as well as an Associate of Arts degree from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, where she currently resides.
Horse Blankets: Should you put them on your horses?
Any links on this page that direct you to things on Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I will receive a compensation. Thank you in advance for your assistance — I much appreciate it! My granddaughter is constantly trying to persuade me that we should put blankets on our horses because they look so great, and she has a friend who does the same thing on her horse every time it’s set out in the pasture. But what really is the point? In general, if the temperature is below twenty degrees, you should cover your horse with a blanket.
In cold weather, even if you trimmed your horse, it will require a blanket.
Horse cover-ups, blankets, PJs, or whatever else you want to call them, I feel, fall in the “not a requirement, but a nice to have” category of accessories.
Still debating whether or not horses should be blanketed? If that’s the case, this tutorial is for you. The following are the themes that I cover:
- What are horse blankets and what are the many varieties of horse blankets
- A blanket for a horse should be used when the weather is cold. When do horses use blankets and at what temperatures do they do so? What is the best way to tell whether my horse is chilly
- What is the best way to keep a horse warm without using a blanket? When it rains, do horses require blankets? When should I remove the blanket off my horse’s back?
What are blankets for horses?
The phrase blanket refers to cover-ups for horses that are intended to keep them warm throughout the winter. Horse blankets are available in a wide variety of styles and fabrics to suit your needs. It is critical to understand the type of material that is utilized to produce horse blankets. Synthetic blankets, for example, are both long-lasting and lightweight. Some horses, on the other hand, may find them to be excessively warm. Typically, insulating filler is sandwiched between the inner and outer shells of synthetic horse blankets, allowing them to retain their insulating properties while being lightweight enough for your horse to wear comfortably.
Check the ratings of the blankets to verify that you are using the most appropriate one for your scenario.
The majority of horse blankets are equipped with straps that are meant to be wrapped around the animal’s girth and hind legs in order to hold the blanket in place.
Others are quilted, some are thin, and some are water-resistant, but all are comfortable.
Types of horse blankets
As the name suggests, a stable blanket is intended for use in a horse stable or similar setting. It’s thick, heavy, and warm, however there are several lighter types available as well as heavier ones. Stable blankets are now available in a broad array of styles and colors to meet the needs and preferences of horse owners of all types.
Turn-out blankets keep horses warm while they are out in the pastures for extended periods of time. Warm, water-resistant, and lightweight, these blankets are ideal for travel. They are supplied with straps to ensure that they are securely fastened and that they do not come loose or shift when the horse moves or rolls on the ground.
Coolers, also known as cool-down sheets, are used after your horse has been working and sweating; they are not blankets, but rather a summery cover-up for your horse. They aid in the gradual cooling down of your horse so that he does not catch a chill. Cool-down blankets are designed to go over the horse’s ears and cover virtually all of his body, with the exception of his lower legs. Coolers should always be used under close supervision, and a horse-wearing cooler should never be left unattended on its own.
How to Select a Horse Blanket?
When choosing a blanket, be sure to inquire about the denier. The thread count of the cloth is referred to as the denier; the greater the number, the more durable the blanket is. The denier of a turnout blanket would be greater than that of a stable blanket. Please keep an eye on your horse the first few times it wears a blanket.
Allow it to become accustomed to the feel of the blanket. After only a short period of time, your horse will tolerate and even like it! Now that you’ve learned about the many types of horse blankets, let’s look at whether or not your horse need one.
When Should You Put a Blanket on a Horse?
When it comes to keeping your horse looking its best without having extra hair during the colder months, utilizing blankets is one of the most effective methods. It also reduces the amount of time you spend grooming its coat in order to keep it looking well between shows or competitions. If you have outdoor horses, blankets may help keep them clean and ready to ride in cold or snowy weather. Blankets can also give additional warmth for people who live in colder climes. A horse’s demand for blankets will be determined by one or more of the following factors:
- Climate, available shelter, breed, age, thickness of natural coat, whether or not it is trimmed, and showing are all factors to consider.
Horses in the wild are never blanketed, yet they manage to thrive quite well without one. The use of a blanket is only necessary if your horse is elderly, frail or sickly, has a thin winter coat, or has had its body trimmed, among other things. However, if your other horses are in good health and robust, there is no need to waste money on blankets for them. In a nutshell, not every horse need a blanket during the winter months. While a plump fuzzy Shetland sheepdog living in southern Louisiana will almost certainly require a blanket during the winter, an elderly thoroughbred living outside in Montana will almost certainly require one.
The exception, of course, is for young, elderly, and ill horses, who require all of the assistance they can receive to be warm and comfortable.
Throughout dramatic weather fluctuations, your horse may sweat abundantly during the day and then feel extremely chilly when the temperature lowers and they haven’t had time to dry down.
At What Temperature do Horses Need Blankets?
Because they have a protective winter coat, most outdoor horses are better off without a blanket, even in the coldest months of the year. When there is a strong winter storm or if your horse has been clipped, you might use a blanket instead of a saddle. In addition, a sick horse or a horse with a thin coat that has difficulty keeping itself warm during the coldest months of the year will require a blanket. In general, the following table, which includes temperature ranges, can assist you in deciding whether or not to blanket a horse:
|The temperature range in Degrees F and Degrees C||If your horse is clipped||If your horse is unclipped|
|Between 40 and 50 F (or 4 and 10 C)||Lightweight blanket||No blanket needed|
|Between 30 and 40 F (-1 to 4 deg C)||Medium to a heavy blanket||No or Lightweight blanket|
|Between 20 and 30 F (-6 to -1 deg C)||Heavy blanket||No or light to mid-weight|
|Between 10-20 F or (-17 to -6 deg C)||Heavyweight plus a sheet||Mid to heavy-weight blanket|
Horses are comfortable in temperatures ranging from 18 degrees Fahrenheit to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on their age, breed, health, and body coat.
How to Know if your Horse is Cold?
Here are several indications that a horse is suffering from a cold:
- Shaking is the most evident symptom that your horse is chilly
- It will shiver when it becomes cold. Movement – Your horse will try to warm itself up by racing around or flexing its muscles in different directions. This is an unmistakable indication that it is chilly
- Touching your horse’s ears will tell you whether or not he is feeling chilly. Check that your hands are not too chilly before touching them and remove your gloves before doing so. Continue to place your hands on the horse’s ears for a few minutes. If your horse’s ears are chilly, it means that he is chilled. Its armpit temperature will be chilly to the touch– Another clue that your horse is cold is the temperature of its armpits. Taking off your gloves will allow you to assess the temperature in your armpit. If the horse is chilly to the touch, it is possible that it is cold.
How To Keep a Horse Warm Without a Blanket?
Here are some ideas for keeping your horse warm without using a blanket:
- Make your horse walk around– Walking or any other action may immediately warm up your horse. Make sure to feed it high-quality hay– Chewing and digesting the hay will help your horse to warm up rapidly. Horses will require more hay than they would normally require in frigid weather to compensate for the energy wasted while warming up. Shelter– Provide shelter for your outside horses so that they may be protected from the elements such as rain, wind, and snow. Warm its water– Drinking warm water can also help to protect your horse from becoming chilled throughout the winter months. Make an investment in a heating equipment. You must also take precautions to ensure that the water maintained in the stable for drinking does not become frozen.
Do horses need blankets in the rain?
I reside in south Louisiana, where it rains a lot, and we don’t cover our horses unless the weather drops well below freezing. Horses, on the other hand, may require shelter from the weather at certain times. Horses must be kept warm on cold, wet days, especially if they are not protected from the elements. If the weather is rainy and cool, you may provide your horse with a special waterproof rain cover, as this sort of temperature can make horses sick and uncomfortable. Rain blankets are available in three different weights: light, medium, and heavyweight.
When using rain blankets, one of the most important things to remember is to make sure the horse keeps dry beneath.
Rain blankets have a tendency to lose their waterproofing properties over time, and they may begin to leak as a result. When a horse is exposed to moisture under a blanket, it is more prone to developing rot and other fungal skin diseases, such as ringworm.
When should you take the blanket off your horse?
When it comes to horse blankets, one of the most often asked questions is, “When should you remove them off your horse?” A lot of people ask this issue since it’s tough to determine just how long is suitable to spend in a certain situation. You should remove your horses’ blanket once the temperature gets over 35 degrees or when they begin to sweat. However, it is also dependent on their requirements — some horses require a blanket even in milder conditions, so keep this in mind! Have you ever found yourself dressing for the weather in an incorrect manner?
- The same can be true for our horses, who are just as sensitive to variations in temperature as we are to them!
- And if the weather gets warm enough and you can take off your coat, don’t forget about their blanket!
- As previously indicated, you should check beneath the blanket frequently to verify that it is still dry; dampness indicates a loss of waterproofing, and you should replace the blanket with a new one.
- Some of the nylon straps are quite strong, and if they become entangled, they might cause injury to your horse.
During the winter, the majority of horses grow extremely thick and long coats to keep them warm. They can also withstand temperature fluctuations as long as they are protected from the elements like as wind and rain. Some horses, particularly sick, elderly, and clipped animals, will undoubtedly require blankets throughout the winter months. Horse blankets are available in a wide range of colors, designs, fabrics, and styles to suit your needs. A variety of blankets are available, including rain blankets, turnout blankets, and saddle blankets.
Due to the fact that they do not create as much internal heat as younger horses, most older horses require a blanket when the temperature drops below 40 degrees.
How can you waterproof a horse blanket?
There are specific sprays available, such as Scotchgard, that may be used on horse blankets to keep them water resistant.
Is it OK to blanket a wet horse?
It is OK to blanket a wet horse on occasion, and it may even be beneficial in allowing the moisture to escape. It may, however, increase your horse’s vulnerability to rain rot as a result of the increased humidity.