Blanketing and winter travel??? Experiences and questions
I will more than likely be doing a 2500 mile trip around Xmas time this year with my horse. He is currently not blanketed and I actually do not plan on blanketing him. We are in NM and likely headed to SC. I haul him in an open stock trailer. It does not have inserts for plexy glass panels and is fairly open on the top half. It's great for hauling in the summertime with a fly mask and sheet!
Anyways, to get to my point, I know I will have to blanket him for warmth during this trip. I am now shopping for blankets and thinking as his best advocate, he will need a medium waterproof/windproof blanket and stable sheet underneath and a hood that covers his head.
Huge no to the stable sheet as your base layer. I prefer a moisture wicking sheet/cooler as in wool or polarfleece. Stable sheets are generally made of cotton and hold moisture in and that's not good - it can create a wet chill if your horse starts to sweat. Then i'd probably go with a breathable waterproof sheet if wet weather is expected since the sides of the trailer will be somewhat open.
"When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered."CANTER New England
I wouldn't think you'd want a hood or even a neck on an unclipped horse. I would probably go with a turnout sheet over a fleece or wool cooler you can add or remove as necessary. The temperature can vary a lot that time a year.
You'll be doing the shipping yourself? So you can slip a hand under the blankets yourself periodically to check him, yes?
I would err on the side of shipping a little cool rather than too hot. I would also think more about windbreaks than temperature control. It may well be that an uninsulated layer which acts as a good windbreak is plenty. I wouldn't worry about covering the head and neck nearly as much as I'd pay attention to helping him keep his core temp reasonable.
Yes, I'll be hauling myself, so breaks are definitely going to happen. I hauled him out here in April myself and started with a light wind/waterproof sheet and did well, but hauled into a heat wave when I hit Texas. The sheet then came off and he was golden in the boots and fly mask.
I guess what I am more concerned with is the wind factor. I do worry that he'd start to sweat at stops or traffic in larger cities, IE....Atlanta and Birmingham were awful, but once we hit the highway, it's 75 mph. That's alot of cold air coming at him. He'll have a hay net the whole way, but tends to only pick at hay while traveling. I might forgo the neck cover at this point and grab a medium water/windproof blanket and a cooler that I can use solo or as a liner at this point now. I still have his sheet, so I've got options if I need to change out blankets at stops.
I've never done long hauls like this in cold weather, so really this a new territory for me.
I prefer to ship in light, breathable, wicking layers, like anti sweats and wool sheets. That way if they get hot and sweaty, the sweat isn't sitting on them between stops. You could maybe top a couple of layers like that with a turnout sheet to help with wind. I would not use heavy layers, personally, as it cuts down on being able to adjust the warmth.
thinking as his best advocate, he will need a medium waterproof/windproof blanket and stable sheet underneath
Way too much, and the wrong thing on the bottom Many stable sheets/blankets are not very breathable, which is a very bad thing if they start to sweat.
I used to have stable blankets, and turnout blankets, but as the stable blankets/sheets died, they didn't get replaced because they are too restricted in their uses. Turnouts can be used inside
Medium weight blanket - turnout, waterproof, breathable - is likely all he will need that time of year, where you will be. But a turnout sheet is always a valuable thing to have, so if he's too cool under the blanket, you can layer the sheet on top.
What are typical temps during that time of year where you're starting out? Things can be pretty ugly around here, or they can be in the 70's. If it's below maybe 50 when you start, maybe start with a sheet simply to keep the wind off him. If it's below 40, maybe start with the blanket. Stop and give him a feel under the blanket after an hour or so and adjust accordingly.
No need for anything on his head/neck.
______________________________ The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET