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Is he warm enough?

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  • Is he warm enough?

    Could folks remind me of steps to determine if a horse is cold? He is a senior Morgan, short and stocky, and spectacularly beautiful (in case he is reading this), with a good, though not yak-like, coat, and he gets plenty of hay. He is in an in/out stall, so has access to shelter and also room to move around at all times as per his choice. I have never seen him shivering, even when it was in the single digits for days, but, he is entering his mid-20s now. He is such a stoic little man, I'm not sure he'll ask for a blanket in any obvious ways his human will understand.

    He's in central Massachusetts; we might get a couple weeks of temps in the single digits or low teens, with a couple nights below zero, but I worry more about sleet, and rain when it's in the 30s and 40s.

  • #2
    "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White

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    • #3
      Since the picture is hard to see, here is the link!

      https://agriculture.auburn.edu/news/...und-the-globe/
      "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White

      Comment


      • #4
        For our senior mare we blanket her more to conserve calories. She tends to loose weight in the winter, so if she's not burning calories to stay warm, she holds her weight better.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have a 4-Point system (of my own devising) I use to check if they're cold:
          Brisket
          Belly
          Flanks
          Ear tips
          If all are warm to the touch, I feel horse is fine unblanketed.
          Any sign of shivering or weight loss & blanket goes on.

          System worked for my 27yo TB, who grew a plushy, but not Wooly Mammoth coat.
          Same for 19yo WB who never grew much coat at all.

          In Winter I blanket only in blizzard conditions (horses have same In/Out arrangement as yours) & then only if haircoat on the back gets soaked through so skin is wet.
          If snow piles up on their backs, but does not soak through, no blanket.
          But as soon as the back is dry, blanket comes off.
          I think their coat does the best job of insulating & cannot fully fluff to do this if blanketed.

          I also provide plenty of hay to keep the "furnace" stoked.
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

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          • #6
            I use blankets, warmer muscles and nice for 'old bones'. I'd let the horse decide and give it a try.

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            • #7
              When they get to senior status, I think they need blankets more often than others. Very young and old horses 20+ work harder to stay warm and are colder sooner than other healthy mature horses. In the past, I have been a pretty hardcore minimal blanketer, but as my guys approach 20, I figure it doesn't cost me anything to blanket them and if anything it saves me money having to feed more to make up for lost calories. It is a different story, also, if they are clipped.

              I use a no-fill sheet for rain between 45-55/60 degrees if they have a full coat, mostly because I want them to still go out and graze and they won't if they are soaking wet and shivering. But below that, I am starting to see the light of at least 100g of fill. When the blanket is on them, they can't fluff up their coat to stay warm. Having at least that little bit of insulation helps a lot. To check warmth, I put my hand in their girth groove area and the neck if they have a neck rug on. IME, feeling ears hasn't been reliable feedback, but that may just be my horses. Mine are pretty good at telling me they are too hot: not grazing, standing with head kind of low, veins starting to pop. I certainly don't want them that uncomfortable. But if I stick my hand under their rug and they feel noticeably warm in a cozy way, I consider that ideal.

              This fall, I am already noticing a difference with more blanketing for my older guy. He tends to drop weight the second grass goes away but with consistent blanketing (he is clipped) his muscles are full and soft and his weight still looks great. I think in an unclipped, used-to-the-cold older horse, a blanket with insulation will help a lot once it's below 35-ish. During the day they might like to be naked in the sun but 35 and below is really cold at night with no sunshine.

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              • #8
                I also have a watch list:

                tail tucked tight
                flanks sucked up
                head down
                shivering

                Thst said, my fellas are 24 & 25. The 24 yr is IR, was just diagnosed with cushings and lives with trauma injuries. If it dips to the 40's (F) or lower with blowing rain or sleet, the blanket goes on or I will put him and the other horse in the barn.

                If the sun is shining and the wind minimal, temps could be in the teens and I won't blanket them -- they need that sunshine soaking thru their coats

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by walkinthewalk View Post
                  I also have a watch list:

                  tail tucked tight
                  flanks sucked up
                  head down
                  shivering
                  This is what I go by, the basic physical signs. With it you can add attitude changes and horse acting uncomfortable and of course if you horse is dropping weight as colder weather begins that is also a reason to blanket.

                  What works best for my horses is having hay/ warm water available for them to eat in a place that is completely out of wind and weather.

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                  • #10
                    With a run in and decent coat, plenty of hay and water, he is probably fine.my Morgan mare has a similar run in situation and I have never blanketed. Even in the minus temps. As long as she can get out of wind and cold rain she is fine. She is not a wholly mammoth, but has a nice plush coat. So snuggly

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                    • #11
                      Is hay available in the run in? One of my oldies WOULD NOT EAT once he had gotten cold. I finally figured out that if I offered hay in the shelter, he would go there and eat to his hearts content when the weather was foul. That said, he still faired better when he was blanketed/sheeted during wet weather events, even if it was of the frozen type.

                      This is a situation where you need to put eyes on your horse during different weather conditions to see how they respond.

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                      • #12
                        I also like to look at how fluffed up they are - if their hair is puffed up to the max, they are making themselves as warm as they can, and you can wonder if they wish they could puff up more. Like you having goosebumps.

                        If they are only moderately fluffy, they are not using their max insulation and are probably fine.

                        A horse that is a bit over blanketed and hot will have the hair on their uncovered parts slicked down.
                        Last edited by TBKite; Nov. 10, 2019, 07:42 AM. Reason: Autocorrect

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          My guy is pushing 20 and fully clipped as he’s still working 5-6 days a week. This is the first winter I’ve had him clipped, so it’s been a bit of a learning curve figuring out what he needs for clothing. I check his girth area, flank, and under the neck cover. If he’s cool to the touch, I move up to a heavier blanket. If he feels too hot or I notice veins popped up, I’ll go for something lighter. I’ve noticed that if he seems to be moving stiffly or standing with more tension than usual, that’s usually a big tell that he’s not warm enough.

                          We’ve had weather in the teens and 20s already in NWNY, so it’s been more adding fill than going for something lighter. He hardly wore his heavyweight (380 grams) last winter unclipped, and he’s already needed it twice this year. Bracing myself to have to layer his medium with his heavyweight if we get to polar vortex levels of cold again.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post
                            I have a 4-Point system (of my own devising) I use to check if they're cold:
                            Brisket
                            Belly
                            Flanks
                            Ear tips
                            If all are warm to the touch, I feel horse is fine unblanketed.
                            Any sign of shivering or weight loss & blanket goes on.

                            System worked for my 27yo TB, who grew a plushy, but not Wooly Mammoth coat.
                            Same for 19yo WB who never grew much coat at all.

                            In Winter I blanket only in blizzard conditions (horses have same In/Out arrangement as yours) & then only if haircoat on the back gets soaked through so skin is wet.
                            If snow piles up on their backs, but does not soak through, no blanket.
                            But as soon as the back is dry, blanket comes off.
                            I think their coat does the best job of insulating & cannot fully fluff to do this if blanketed.

                            I also provide plenty of hay to keep the "furnace" stoked.
                            Hello, checking in from nearby! This is what I use too.. If all four are toasty, pony is nice and warm! If not... consider blanketing! I check ears and "armpits" foremost for Holden.
                            AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              As above and also if they have hairs that are 90 degrees to the skin that means they are cold. The are called cold hairs.

                              A rug is equal to a feed. So yes rug if they are losing weight.
                              It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by SharonA View Post
                                Could folks remind me of steps to determine if a horse is cold? He is a senior Morgan, short and stocky, and spectacularly beautiful (in case he is reading this), with a good, though not yak-like, coat, and he gets plenty of hay. He is in an in/out stall, so has access to shelter and also room to move around at all times as per his choice. I have never seen him shivering, even when it was in the single digits for days, but, he is entering his mid-20s now. He is such a stoic little man, I'm not sure he'll ask for a blanket in any obvious ways his human will understand.

                                He's in central Massachusetts; we might get a couple weeks of temps in the single digits or low teens, with a couple nights below zero, but I worry more about sleet, and rain when it's in the 30s and 40s.
                                Maybe a lightly lined rain sheet for the cold days when it rains or snows. Horses are very cold weather hardy, but some of them need a bit of help when they get older.
                                "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post

                                  Maybe a lightly lined rain sheet for the cold days when it rains or snows. Horses are very cold weather hardy, but some of them need a bit of help when they get older.
                                  Except if he can get into his run in and there is hay in there he will be warmer than in a light sheet. Because a sheet will flatten his hair, taking out the insulation layer of warm air.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Cruiser12 View Post

                                    Except if he can get into his run in and there is hay in there he will be warmer than in a light sheet. Because a sheet will flatten his hair, taking out the insulation layer of warm air.
                                    That's a myth.
                                    "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post

                                      That's a myth.
                                      This! A windbreaker (rain sheet) doesn't cling like lycra. It traps a layer of air between the horse and the sheet.
                                      Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        [QUOTE=sascha;n10513374]

                                        This! A windbreaker (rain sheet) doesn't cling like lycra. It traps a layer of air between the horse and the sheet. [/QUOTE

                                        thank you! I am happy to be de-mythed! I’m sure there is a word for that I’m glad to know regardless.

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