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Blanketing seniors

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    Blanketing seniors

    I live in the Virginia (Northwest area) and was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on blanketing or not? Medium or Heavy? I have an Appendix Mare that still needs to put on more weight and 2 senior ponies - any thoughts on blanketing these 3? They have access to the barn and a run in, but they are not too keen on going in any of them and the senior ponies tend to not let the mare in at all. They also have access to hay and water.

    I live in southern Maine and my 25 y.o, gelding has been pasture boarded since I bought him in 2001. He gets extraordinarily fuzzy and today it looks like it's the middle of January. The kids like his "teddy bear ears."

    I have always blanketed him but the weather calls the shots. I don't use his heavyweight unless it will stay below zero or a huge snowstorm or blizzard is forecast. He does fine in the mediumweight most of the time. I can't imagine it would get so cold in Virginia that you would need a heavyweight. They can sweat under too much blanket and get chilled. I don't clip so I don't know how that affects blanketing.

    They have free choice round bales. A heated automatic Nelson provides a constant source of water (smartest thing the BO ever did). They have a run in and they really like the half acre of woods with pine trees. Most of the BO's younger lesson horses are out there naked. I've moved the line up from 40 to 50 as he has gotten older. I don't want him wet to the skin and shivering, and he doesn't gain extra weight to burn off. He gets his sheet this afternoon for a storm with heavy rain and wind starting tonight, then back to naked.

    Horses deal with cold way better than they deal with heat. My limit for riding is 15 (indoor arena available), but that has more to do with respiratory effort.

    "With hardly any other living being can a human connect as closely over so many years as a rider can with her horse." Isabell Werth, Four Legs Move My Soul. 2019


      As with any horse, you just have to figure out what they need. I have a 29yo who last year didn't require blanketing under any less conditions than previous years. He (they all were) just blanketed MORE because it was the Winter of non-stop rain.

      My inclination for the one who needs some weight is to blanket at higher temps and "better' conditions than you might otherwise. So ifyou'd normally put a medium weight on when temps at night went below 30, or day was 30s plus wind and rain, maybe add 10* to that. 40 and sunny and no wind might be really warm, but 40 and 20mpn N wind, and/or even a misty crappy drizzle could be really cold.

      The goal for those who need weight isn't just about keeping them warm, it's about keeping them from burning too many calories to stay warm, calories that could be used to put on weight.
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        Blanketing the underweight one will keep it from burning any extra calories to stay warm. Blanketing the old ones will keep their joints warmer and therefore more agile.


          My gelding’s on the younger side of “senior” at 19. He’s not clipped yet and got a sheet for the first time this year today, because it’s a high of 50°, windy, and absolutely pouring rain.

          If your horses have access to free-choice forage, that goes a long way towards keeping them warm as digestion produces heat. It’d also likely help them put on weight. But I would tend to blanket a little more often or with heavier blankets for aged horses, or those who need to stay warm to avoid burning calories they need to maintain body condition.


            I tend to blanket my senior hard keeping horse one weight heavier than my non senior horses. It's what works for her, but one size doesn't fit all--you'll have to figure out what works for your horse.


              Mine are generally unclipped and unblanketed, but my senior mare will look cold (either shivering or hunched up) when the temperature gets in the teens, or a higher temperature but it's wet. When she looks cold or it's the type of weather she normally gets cold in, I blanket all four of mine, generally in mediums.


                I blanket my 25 year old WB as she is retired show hunter and loves to be pampered even in old age. She is an easy keeper but she likes to come in when it gets chilly. Blanketing her does not hurt and she seems to enjoy the attention.


                  If the ponies are carrying good weight and grow heavy winter coats then they should be fine especially if they use the shelter and can eat out of the elements.

                  Your mare is a different story since she is in need of gaining weight. Any reserves she has will be used to keep warm. I also suggest that you fix the problem with the ponies keeping her from seeking shelter when she chooses.

                  Moving from a warmer climate to a colder one doesn't mean you must blanket. If your horse has shelter, plenty of hay, a good winter coat, are healthy and in good flesh and arrive early enough in the year to be fully acclimated and settled they may do fine.

                  Depends on the horse as an individual. If you see them shivering despite all the above they need added protection. If they are not looking or acting cold they aren't.


                    My senior horse didn't need a sheet/blanket until he was about 24/25 and couldn't keep his weight up - even with good hay, a good senior feed and pasture. It is also when his teeth started to have some issues as well. Don't think he was getting enough out of the hay as he typically did.

                    I have upped the temp at which I blanket over the years. Sheet at 45°. Medium blanket at about 32°. But weather is also a factor - not just air temp. If it is gray, blustery, damp and just miserable out, I put his sheet on, even if it is 48° out and if it is a glorious, sunny, no cloud in the sky day with no wind, I won't put his sheet on, even if its only 41°.

                    So for an underweight senior, I'd definitely use a sheet/blanket and monitor if they are too warm with it. your temps are similar to TN. I find a good heavy turn-out sheet (no fill) and a medium weight blanket to be a good combo. And for those very rare times we are down to 0°, I put a med weight stable blanket under his med weight turnout and that has worked well.
                    ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


                      It so much depends on the horse. The ones who are not easy keepers will need more blanketing than the ones who are. Some are more sensitive to getting wet and/or blown by the wind than others.

                      Much to my surprise, my 21 year old Morgan mare is needing less blanketing these days. She has never grown much of a winter coat; unlike many Morgans, she does not become a wooly mammoth in the winter and I never need to clip her to keep her in (light) work. She's turned into an easy keeper as she's gotten older and is borderline IR. She also, a couple of years ago, developed a strong negative reaction to static shocks when having blankets removed. I got a lot of good tips here, but can't rely on the barn staff to always change her from her "indoor" blankets to her "outdoor" blankets reliably. If I'm there, I tie her in her stall (on a Blocker tie ring) and give her a little hay in her feed bucket while removing blankets or putting them on, but I've watched the staff *not* take the time to tie her, and end up with a real struggle and a very upset horse.

                      Of course, they should blanket her appropriately, but over time, they, and I, have found that blanketing her less actually doesn't hurt her. For turnout, she gets a rain sheet if it's below 55 and raining as she *will* get chilled if she's cold and wet. Ditto for snow or high winds. But she can go outside nekkid down to about 25 to 30 degrees if it's not windy or precipitating. She is frankly better off without the stress of anticipating static shock from blankets.

                      She does get blanketed when she's inside for the night if it's cold... which may seem odd, but she seems to like it.
                      You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                      1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                        My guy is wearing a rainsheet today. I don't want him soaked out in the wind, plus last night he got kicked in a front leg, nasty hole. So trying to keep his stresses down. Hoping his pasture walking helped reduce swelling, will be bringing everyone in soon for the night.

                        He is not thin, but seems to chill in windy conditions, so he started wearing a rainsheet as a windbreaker a couple years ago in 40F temps, warmed blakes as the temps go colder. His covers come off in the barn, go on in the AM before he goes outside. He fluffs his hair in his stall to stay as warm as needed, out of drafty cold. . We have no sheds, everyone comes inside part of the day to get fed, dry off or avoid the summer bugs.