I didn't want to hijack the trace clip thread so I figured I'd start my own.
Just looking for those experienced with winter riding in colder climates with their horses out 24/7. This is the first year I will be tackling this, and I have an added factor of difficulty (IMO) - I live about an hour away from my horse. What this means to me is that I cannot get there quickly to throw a rain sheet on or change blankets.
The details - horse is on 24/7 turn out in a peninsula province. The interwebs tell me that the average temperatures here range from 24-31F Dec-Mar (these are stats from 2000 so I would guess they are a bit higher now - thank you global warming). Also worth mentioning the wind/precipitation from being a peninsula (though the farm is "inland"). Windchill often brings the temps quite a bit lower - ie, in the city it might only be -2C but windchill could bring it to -15C (5F).
The winter before last I clipped my mare and blanketed because she had rain rot. Last winter I blanketed but did not clip. In both instances, she was inside at night. This year, she will be on 24/7 turn out (she's quite happy about that, I think).
I aim to ride 3-5 times a week, lots of flatting and hacking with the colder weather. Ideally I'd like to do some kind of trace clip to help with cool down after rides, however blanketing is not ideal where she is A) out 24/7, B) with a semi large herd (though I may look into changing this for the winter as the herd's field is GIANT and I think getting her every day would be a pain, haha), and C) I am not nearby to accommodate blanket swaps as the weather changes (and let it be known, the weather changes a lot here).
Anyway, sorry for the ramble! I haven't quite decided what I want to do with her, but I'd love to hear from those in similar situations. Did you do a small trace clip with no adverse affects? Did you say screw clipping and take more time after rides to ensure horsey wouldn't ever get cold? Inquiring minds...
Did you say screw clipping and take more time after rides to ensure horsey wouldn't ever get cold?
That's what I've been doing for years. My horses live out 24/7and I don't clip or blanket - just spend a little extra time walking them. Sometimes I use a cooler, but sometimes if they're really hot and it's not ridiculously cold the cooler will actually make them sweat more if I put it on right away, so I'll rub them with a towel, or whatever I have handy, and then walk without the cooler for a while.
Sometimes it takes a while, but it's not like the extra exercise is bad for me And if I'm a little pressed for time, I just don't get my horse all sweaty while I'm riding.
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While no where near the cold temps you have, I have a Clyde-X that lives out 24/7/365 and turns into a veritable yak. Hence, she doesn't get blanketed. BUT as a safe way of helping her cool down post winter ride, yet still without needing to be blanketed, I do a bib clip.
If she was still sweaty after the ride, I'd throw on her Eous fleece/mesh combo cooler over her and either stall her while she ate some beet pulp or I'd walk/let her hand graze until dry.
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That's what I've been doing for years. My horses live out 24/7and I don't clip or blanket - just spend a little extra time walking them.
This will be my first winter with my horse as well, and this is also my plan, except I will be blanketing. I thought about clipping but think I would rather leave his coat and take more time to cool him down, this winter at least. I have a light/mid weight shell to go over his fuzzy coat, and a liner to add if it gets really gross (I'm in Edmonton though, as you can probably tell from my username, and we can get some -40 with windchill stretches). I'm in the same boat where I'm a ways from the barn so can't make it for a bunch of blanket changes, but many barns offer one free blanket change/day. Could you work something like this out with your barn?
You can still clip/blanket if she is out 24/7 and with a large herd. I have done this for many years, in situations where I did not have blanket service at the barn.
Heres how to do it: First off, make it easy on yourself. DONT have a million blankets and a million different layering requirements or temp changes. DO buy a waterproof sheet and a waterproof medium blanket. You can layer the sheet over the blanket IF needed.
Wait until the cold weather sets in. If you clip now and you have cold night, warm days, you will make yourself and you horse miserable. If you wait until cold weather is here to stay, then you shouldnt have to change the blankets that often.
I usually wait until November. I trace clip my mare. I put the sheet on around 50s and then around 35ish for the medium. My mare wears her medium almost non-stop during the entire months of Jan and Febuary. I rarely use my sheet until Late Feb/March unless we get those odd ball days where its going to be really warm or rainy and in the 60's and going to drop. Even if its gets up to the 50s or so on a odd ball day in Jan, she will be OK in the medium.
I try to blanket accordingly but I dont kill myself if it doesnt happen. I do keep in mind that its better to be a little chilly than too hot, as long as there is shelter and hay. Id rather her be too cold than too hot any day so if I am uncertain, I blanket for warmer temps.
Low budget option: buy a wool blanket at Goodwill, a hairdryer, and an extension cord. Work your fuzzy beast, wrap their sweaty body in the wool blanket when you're done, and dry them off with the hair dryer. Turn your fluffy pony back outside with whatever weatherproof clothing you consider appropriate.
I live in Wisconsin and I blanket mine, but have done the wool blanket and hair dryer approach for quite a while now, successfully.
If you are going to ride much I would clip but leave hair on the legs. I do some sort of hunter clip on the horses I am riding during the winter because they take too long to dry naturally. I have a farm, a family and two jobs -- my days of having enough time to walk for an hour or use a hair dryer on a horse have come and gone. I make up for it with extra blanketing and our temps are often like the ones you describe, my horses live out 24/7. They stay warm and toasty.
They do have hay at all times and I think that helps the internal furnace a good bit.
That said, I only blanket/clip the ones I ride a lot. The others are nekkid except in cold rain or blizzards.
My guy lives out 24/7 and I do a body clip leaving his legs alone. Our horses are only checked on once a day, in the evenings, so I have to create a schedule that works for day and night. Having him clipped and having a simple blanket schedule does really work! Other than the spring/fall time I never have a problem. I usually wait to clip until the last show of the year (November) so I know its finally cool enough to have something on and he not get hot.
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I've done it for many years too, and have a system that works for me.
I too wait until November to clip so I can avoid the "how cold is it going to be tomorrow" game. Unless it's very warm and my horse is getting too hot and sweaty in his fuzz, then I suck it up and play the game. I prefer letting him be a little cold too - this way his internal temperature will adjust to keep him warmer through the winter.
I do a modified trace - modified in that I leave the belly hair on. I don't clip below the straight line between elbow and stifle. This makes a massive difference to the horse's ability to stay warm. My guy wears his rainsheet below 10C until the daily highs are at or below 0C at which time I put his midweight on. I prefer the Rhino Wug style high neck blanket.
When riding I find that doing W,T,C, cool out leaves a hot and sweaty beast. Doing W, little T, C, more T, cool out leaves a much cooler and drier horse. What kind of blanket/cooler/if any will work best depends greatly on your own situation - how warm the barn is, how furry your horse is, what the temperature is, etc. I've found different things worked best in the various barns where I've boarded.
I do a lot of what's been said already.
I wait until November or so to clip, too. I something between a trace clip & a bib clip. Basically, I clip the areas that get the most sweaty when we ride...underside of her neck & her chest. I don't clip the saddle or girth area at all, nor her legs.
If we do have a ride where she still gets sweaty, I put a cooler on her and let her eat some hay while I clean up my tack, sweep the aisle, etc., and by the time I'm done, she's generally dry & ready to go out uncovered, or with the blanket if it's cold.
The one thing you don't want to do is to use an unlined sheet on a sweaty horse...they just end up clammy and chilled. If they're too damp to go out naked, better to put the blanket on, even if they're a little warm.
I have a waterproof sheet that I use early in the season if it's rainy/sleety or wet snow. And I have a mediumweight waterproof blanket for colder days. most of the time, if it's above 20 F and dry, even with the clip, she's quite comfortable naked.
I just had a giant reply typed and then it disappeared!! Yargh.
Cliff notes: Thank you for all the replies!! There are some great tips here and I'm mentally storing them (and perhaps shopping for a barn hair dryer soon!).
At this point I think I will try to avoid blanketing. I'm not at a boarding facility so there isn't a "service" offered in terms of blanket changes. I know my coach would help me out if I was in need but I don't want to rely on him to change her blanket all the time.
In addition to that, she's out on 300+ acres with densely wooded areas, and the horses use the trees for shelter. I worry that she could get caught in the trees and/or rip her blanket in the trees. Plus the young horses she's out with potentially destroying her blanket. Plusss the worry that the horses may shun her or pick on her for wearing her blanket (sounds bizarre but I've seen in happen, especially with horses that aren't accustomed to seeing blankets on their pasturemates).
Basically I'm an over protective mom, haha. But the bib clip is a good idea, especially considering I had her fully clipped the other winter and her blanket did not have a high neck nor did I put a hood on her.
*sigh* We'll see!! I just to think about hacking in the snow and not worry about hair issues.
^I've boarded like this. No clipping, no blankets, a trees, windbreaks and a run-in shed for shelter. The problem is, you end up with a big hairy horse! If you have a wool or fleece cooler with an anti-sweat sheet you can use to speed warming/drying your horse, or can do the wool blanket/hair dryer routine, you will probably be fine. Enjoy hacking in the snow!
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I lived in Colorado and no one ever blanketed their horses at our boarding facility. No loafing shed for the pastured horses either.. A large percentage of those horses were used in the local Westeernsires Drill team which met every Saturday and of those horses most of them were ridden daily. Again none were blanketed and they did great. Now, if you plan on working your horse to a serious sweat then yes you may need to worry about clipping and blanketing, but from what I read, most of the comments are coming from people that are a not HAVING to keep their horse in show condition,l, I mean, it's fun to ride a fuzzy horse bareback in the winter...no need to make em sweat in the winter if you are in a cold climate unless you are showing in major competitions and need your horse in tip top shape.
Now living in Michigan, it gets even colder.... We have our horses at our own home, and they live outside 24 hrs a day with a nice loafing shed that is only three sided,,,, no blankets. They are never showing signs of discontent, we feed them every often, use a slow feeder box my hubby made, and if we do ride, it isn't going to be w ride where they will need to cool down. just q fun jaunt through the woods, to break the boredom of winter.