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Need advice about VERY cold temps and blankets and event horses...

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  • Need advice about VERY cold temps and blankets and event horses...

    ...hopefully, the title will pass muster and my eventing buddies can give their advice.

    the past two mornings, Rasta has had mild stomach problems after staying in the barn all night (horrible wind and rain Saturday night and a wind chill of 10 degrees last night). none of my horses drink much water at night when they're in the barn - they usually stay out 24/7 except in really bad weather - right now, for Rasta on his eye meds, it means stomach ails. I've soaked his hay at night - fine as wine during the night - lots of poop and pee. But when he had some this morning - soaked - he immediately had stomach problems. Happily, went away quick with walking, just like yesterday. HOWEVER, TONIGHT THEY ARE ALL STAYING OUT - at least then he might drink water - of course it'll mean I'll have to get up every couple of hours to break ice, but it'll be worth it if he's happier and drinking!!!! He's gone straight to the barrel both mornings and GUZZLED nonstop for several minutes so I know he's been thirsty.

    Here's the question: with no shelter (but no rain), will a heavy blanket plus a medium weight work for a horse with a good coat of hair? Temps will be down near 10-12 degrees again tonight. I'm only feeding him a teensy bit of hay thru the night due to the stomach problems.
    ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

  • #2
    I am in KY, so usually colder than you. I use medium weight blankets with 24/7 turnout. My horses are not clipped. I have a run in, but they never use it. Or should I say, they only use it during the summer sun.

    I give them extra hay on really cold nights, but that is about all I change. I will leave them in stalls when we have an all night heavy freezing rain.

    Comment


    • #3
      Since the temps are not normal for your guys, I'd say the Heavy is enough. Both would be over load in my opinion. We live up here in NY and the cold is harsh right now with strong wind. My horses never have on more than a Med. blanket and many have nothing on. Your horses body language will give you insight too. See if he shivers, or keeps his body "tight" then he's cold. You'd be surprised how much they can tolerate.
      "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"

      Comment


      • #4
        My horse, Kobie, is not clipped yet and is pastured 24/7. Last night it was around 13 and tonight it will be single didgits. Last night he just had on his heavy blanket and wasnt cold at all. Tonight we may put a light blanket under his heavy one if he seems cold. Then again, he closely resembles Chewbacca at the moment.
        My other pony, Bentley, is extremely hairy right now, but he is a weenie so he had his medium and his blanket liner last night when it was 13.
        Also, the paddock my guys are in has a run in shed, but Kobie seemed fine with just a heavy blanket on.

        Remember, you would always rather your horse bee to cold than too hot..
        Please visit the Donate page!

        https://justworldeventer.squarespace.com

        Comment


        • #5
          10-12 isn't even that cold!

          The blankets you are talking about sound like plenty. If you are worried, you could pile even more on -- 10-12 is cold enough that you probably can't overkill and put so many on that he'll sweat. (I know people who literally put 4-5 blankets on their clipped horses, but I can't imagine that's all too comfortable for the creature underneath that pile!) If you have a neck cover, add that, too. If they are going out with buddies, they'll stay together for warmth and they'll be moving around to stay warmer than they do in their stalls.

          Usually, a big pile of hay to munch on will keep them warmer than anything, but if you think that's contributing to the tummy ache ...

          ETA: I've read everyone else's responses and have concluded that boarding at a dressage barn must be rubbing off on me. LOL. I'm always in the less-is-more category, but I do see these horses go out under piles of blankets and not suffer (of course, they're also clipped). For an unclipped horse, I'd stick by the two layers you are talking about. It'll give you peace of mind and won't be so much that he'll sweat (at 10 degrees), even with a full coat.

          Besides, if you're really going to go out there a million times and break ice, you can always keep checking his shoulder and ears and see whether he needs more or less.
          I evented just for the Halibut.

          Comment


          • #6
            Once you put a blanket on a horse, his hair flattens and loses a ,lot of its insulating properties. Before you go overboard, feel his chest. If its warm ,he's OK. (Yesterday up here it topped out at minus 6 without factoring in the wind chill). My horses were always fine as long as they could get shelter from the wind.

            Comment


            • #7
              You might look into a neck cover if the wind is brutal. But if its just cold, no wind or snow, he should be fine.

              If you have to bring him inside because the weather is too bad, try giving him soaked haycubes, they end up taking in a good half bucket of water that way.

              Comment


              • #8
                meh, mine isn't clipped yet and was out today with a wind chill up down to -25. He's only been in a midweight, but that cuts out most of the cold from the wind. Your guys should be fine in a heavy.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Last night it got down to 11 degrees here, with a "feels like" of -1. Was cold and windy. My horses live outside 24/7 with pretty much free choice hay. They do have a run-in but only utilize it if I put hay in there.

                  My gelding is body clipped, but has grown back in a good bit, and he wore a heavy blanket with a neck cover. My 22 year old retired mare has a full coat and last night was the first time she's worn a blanket all winter, which was a midweight high neck. I only blanketed her because of the biting wind. My donkey doesn't have a blanket yet, but he can let himself in and out of one of the stalls, so he had a good windbreak in there with a big pile of hay.

                  I really don't think you need both blankets. Remember, a horse's comfort zone is much lower than ours.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks y'all - my biggest concern is that I can't just put out hay for him with these colic symptoms happening...he was up for 3 hours today (eyes are dilated on purpose and the bright sun isn't helpful) 2 poops and 2 pees - NOT ONE BIT OF WATER did the dear boy drink. Just turned him out and he went straight to the barrel to do his guzzle routine...go figure. Poor Rasta - just got two handfulls of hay - soaked to the gills, more in the bucket for supper.

                    On the positive side - have the go ahead to start him undersaddle again as long as the eye stays pain free!!!! Christmas miracle?!!
                    ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      OT cold-pony story

                      My poor horse used to live in a paddock fenced in metal pipe in the Colorado mountains. It would get VERY cold there in the winter (as in, 10-12 at midday on a warm day) and TWICE the poor boy got too close to that super-cold metal pipe with his tongue or lips and got stuck to it. Once I came out to find a dime-sized wound on the tip of his tongue, and he still has a scar from the time he did the same thing with his upper lip! I'm sure it hurt like heck at the time, but since he survived to fight another day, I admit the mental image is kinda funny now... like a kid stuck to a lightpost.
                      I evented just for the Halibut.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        That is plenty for an unclipped horse. Don't worry about him being out in those temps. Mine was full body clipped and on night turnout with the temps dipping down into the low twenties. He wore a heavy weight rambo and stable blanket and a fleece slinky over his head and neck (before they had the rambo neck covers). But even in those temps he laid down in the snow and slept, I know this because I would find him there when I came to ride him at 5:00 am.

                        Less is more, especially on an unclipped horse.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Since you're going to be getting up anyway (oh brrrr....I don't envy you in the least!) I think I would start with one layer, and just check temps when you go out to break ice and check on them.
                          Amanda

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hey RFI,

                            Mine live out 24/7 and usually wear nothing, but with wind chills or freakishly sudden low temps like we are all having here in GA (people in other areas don't realize we were in the 80s with gross humidity just two days ago, high was only 34 here today with lows tonight in the upper teens) I do blanket with midweights, both for the old retiree and for the trace-clipped youngster. They do just fine and in fact, are warmer because they can move around and find the best place to hang out, they can eat and they can drink as they please. Tomorrow night's forecast is for mid-30s and they'll both be nekkid again, as usual.

                            No worries, I think you made the perfect decision for your circumstance! (Mine don't drink worth a flip in the stall, either.)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              one more thing...

                              RunForIt
                              You probably already know this but just in case...Atropine has been known to cause GI stasis-colic in horses. I mention this as you noted his pupils are dilated (and it sounds like he has been down alot?)-I am assuming you are using atropine.

                              Personally, when there are extreme weather changes predicted here, my horses all start getting a little bran, mineral oil and electrolytes a day or so ahead of the predicted change, with their regular grain. Mineral oil not only helps keep the gut slippery but can also reduce gas production. However, electrolytes can aggravate gastric ulcers ( salt in a wound...) and make some horses colicy.

                              (I realize you were really asking a blanketing question but, I was not sure if you felt the colic is due to reduced gut motility from standing in a stall all night or due to gas or impaction from not drinking, or maybe the atropine.)

                              Good Luck and Stay Warm!
                              Last edited by TampaBayEquine; Dec. 22, 2008, 07:27 PM. Reason: spelling

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by RunForIt View Post
                                Thanks y'all - my biggest concern is that I can't just put out hay for him with these colic symptoms happening...he was up for 3 hours today (eyes are dilated on purpose and the bright sun isn't helpful) 2 poops and 2 pees - NOT ONE BIT OF WATER did the dear boy drink. Just turned him out and he went straight to the barrel to do his guzzle routine...go figure. Poor Rasta - just got two handfulls of hay - soaked to the gills, more in the bucket for supper.

                                On the positive side - have the go ahead to start him undersaddle again as long as the eye stays pain free!!!! Christmas miracle?!!
                                But if he drinks lots outside, you can heap on the hay outside while he drinks. Its much worse in terms of colic if he has nothing to eat for long periods of time and doesnt move around at all.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Michigander checking in; we just went through that exact temperature swing (during daytime, no less!). My boy is a TB and grew a decent but hardly sufficient coat, and he was fine in that weather in a heavyweight. Now that we're back over 15 degrees, he's back in his mediumweight.
                                  Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    My clipped beasts are all doubled blanketed this evening, everyone else is either in a medium weight or heavy weight depending on how hairy they are - I have two that are real yaks and don't need all that much. I started this winter adding water and or beet pulp, very well soaked, to everyone's meals to keep the moisture content up - the temperature swings over the last few days are are wild - we went from the 70s Saturday to a low of 19 tonight and back up into the 70s by Wednesday.

                                    RFI - sounds like you are fine, and mine don't drink well when stalled at home either - and they also do a fine job of breaking through the ice.
                                    www.amiddle-agedmadwomantakesthereins.blogspot.com

                                    www.pegasusridge.com

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Not blanket related, but why not invest in a tank de-icer for times like these? (And a looong extension cord so that you can plug it in somewhere ) Not only will this save you trips out to the field to break ice on the water barrel, but it will also keep the drinking water more temperate, thus more drinkable...
                                      "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                                      "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by Dr. Doolittle View Post
                                        Not blanket related, but why not invest in a tank de-icer for times like these? (And a looong extension cord so that you can plug it in somewhere ) Not only will this save you trips out to the field to break ice on the water barrel, but it will also keep the drinking water more temperate, thus more drinkable...
                                        how do these things work without electrocuting the horse and ME!?
                                        ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

                                        Comment

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