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Blanketing reality check

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  • Blanketing reality check

    Supposed to go into the mid-20s tonight. First real cold of the season. It's going to feel *really* cold to me, and I'm going to want to blanket my boys.

    But what do they really need for this? One has a full winter coat for this time of the year--it'll be heavier in Jan, but for now he's got a typical older fellow's coat (he's 20). The other is the same, not quite as old, but is clipped neck and shoulders, the rest is full coat. The choices are nothing (in/out access to the barn), turnout sheet (use mostly if it is very windy, I know they aren't great for warmth) or a mid-weight turnout blanket (180 gm fill).

    Forecast is for probably precipitation, possible snow, and windy. Am I being hysterical to want to put the mid-weights on?
    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

    Spay and neuter. Please.

  • #2
    I'd put a waterproof mid-weight on. My call is: a winter coat that is wet will make you cold. At the very least, always block for wind. On really cold, dry winter days, horses do OK out if they have a full coat. (They fluff up) but if it gets wet, we are kidding ourselves.

    Comment


    • #3
      I would put midweights on both horses for sure. In those temps outside they definitely won't be too warm with 180 grams of fill.

      Comment


      • #4
        If we are really honest with ourselves, most people are hysterical about blanketing. They really will be alright without them. Sounds like they have a place to get out of the weather if they want. If they don't want to, oh well.

        Go figure this one out, if I keep a horse inside, I like keeping a sheet/blanket on them, so they don't grow quite the coat and are easier to cool out. However, if they are outside, they are OUTSIDE. They've got a run in, and to quote Blazing Saddles "You're on you're own, son"
        Visit my Spoonflower shop

        Comment


        • #5
          Holy bajoly, if it were going to be in the 20s here and my horse were trace clipped I'd have her bundled up in 400g stable blankets and locked in her stall under infrared lamps with about 17 flakes of steamed hay.

          I kid! But only sort of.

          I have a really hard time believing that even unclipped horses don't get cold, so when it dips to freezing, my girls on full-time turnout get heavyweight Rambos whether they want'em or not. If it's windy, they get the neck covers, too. Two of'em are Arabians who don't grow much coat. Rightly or wrongly, my theory is that they just weren't bred for the sub-zero life. I've seen them shiver when it's in the 40s (F).

          Meanwhile, my vehemently anti-blanket vet, who leads a serene, science-based life, has informed me that it takes 1" of blanket (thickness-wise) to compensate for the natural insulation that is lost when you compress a horse's coat with outerwear. Meaning that, under non-windy conditions, a light or mid-weight blanket can actually make a horse colder than no blanket at all. Counter-intuitive!

          But a clipped horse, you pretty much have to put a heavy blanket on her, whether she's inside or out.
          Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life

          Comment


          • #6
            FWIW, I'm in Vermont and neither of mine will have anything on, I'm just putting them inside for the night, if the weather truly ends up warranting this.

            One is a 20 year old Arabian, the other a 6 year old QH. Both aren't very hairy right now.
            "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

            Comment


            • #7
              Two drafties, all yakked up already, out with access to run-in. One is on pasture, the other in a big paddock with round-bale under cover. Naked 'cept for their fur. They're fine
              <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

              Comment


              • #8
                The precipitation and wind are the primary reasons I think your horses should be blanketed, OP.

                Of course, the horses would LIVE without being blanketed. But I personally don't think we should strive for just the bare minimum needed to survive. If you can make the horses more comfortable with blanketing - especially the partially clipped one - why wouldn't you. There is pretty much zero chance they will get too hot with a midweight on in the mid-20s. But there is a pretty good chance they will get too cold without anything (again, especially the clipped one).

                Comment


                • #9
                  An old vet once told me that to avoid illness, that horses could be wet, or cold, but not to let them be wet and cold at the same time. I would opt for mid-weight.

                  Even though my horses are currently stalled during this wet, windy and cold storm, I have mid-weight on my cold natured TB and plain sheet on my warmblood--since the tops of their stall doors are open (there is an 8 foot overhang over their doors) and both are unclipped and starting to get winter coats. Like FineAlready, I don't think one should just try to get by with the minimum of protection.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Not clipped? No clothes. Let the coat do its job. When my old TB had retired and was unclipped he would choose to stand out in the snow storms. He'd have a pile of snow on his back which proved to me 1. he liked it, 2. he was warm enough, 3. his own coat was working bc the snow was not melting (ie heat was not escaping up through his hair to melt the snow pile)
                    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Crone of Cottonmouth County View Post
                      Meanwhile, my vehemently anti-blanket vet, who leads a serene, science-based life, has informed me that it takes 1" of blanket (thickness-wise) to compensate for the natural insulation that is lost when you compress a horse's coat with outerwear. Meaning that, under non-windy conditions, a light or mid-weight blanket can actually make a horse colder than no blanket at all. Counter-intuitive!
                      .

                      this !!!

                      and once you blanket, the lot won't really come back the same, so you have to keep doing it.

                      I hate blankets. If the horse has shelter from wet, they are fine in super cold temps. They are furnaces, better off in cold than heat. Ranch horses in Manitoba do fine with the wind whipping over the plain & baby it's COLD.

                      Our arena is heated now, so I need to clip & blanket. ass pain. I don't think they are ever as warm with a blanket as they are in their own woolies. Of course, there are exceptions, but for the most part, the yak coat does its job.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        OP, you don't say if the horses will be outside, inside, or have a choice.

                        If you're stalling the horses overnight and they are kept out of the weather, I think they will be just fine without a blanket. They aren't going to be wet, and even with a neck/chest clip, your "clipped" one will have quite a bit of hair left to insulate.

                        If they have a choice, I would still not blanket. If they are cold outside naked, they will come in.
                        "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Let them tell you if they need blankets. I have an Arabian that has to be blanketed if it gets in the mid 30s or lower otherwise she shivers. My MFT is fine without. I've never seen him shiver even when it gets in the 20s, which is rare here.

                          Not sure about the 3rd guy yet. We just got him so I don't know how he will do yet.

                          Most are fine if they have shelter or at least a wind break.

                          Of course not all will use the shelter. I had one horse years ago that in a freezing rain stood outside the run-in and used it as a windbreak. Horses!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I really play it by how the horse behaves. If it's standing in the middle of a blizzard with melted snow frozen to its fur and simply meanders over to get a bit of hay, the horse is fine. If it is standing with its tail tucked and is sort of "hunched" looking, the horse is getting a little chilly but is not unhappy and will likely warm up nicely with a full stomach. If the horse is shivering, I blanket appropriately.

                            My "system" is pretty easy. I start blanketing when the horse tells me "this temperature/combination of wind and temps is not comfortable for me". For my working horse it is about 30 degrees dry, forty degrees wet. I realized this when I walked into the barn one morning after a 25-30 degree night and she was shivering in her stall. She is not clipped and has a thin, but not super fine, coat. It's just not as long/fluffy as any of the other horses. She is also at working-weight. The fluffy-puffy horses with more fat over their bodies are totally fine when the temps get into the twenties. Heck, even my three year old, who is not exactly fat, is fine without a blankie at nearly any temperature (dry). I know because I don't have one that fits him! My "working horse" needs a sheet during the day now, and an old (thinned down) midweight at night for the hard frosts. During the winter, when temps get into the low teens or singe digits at night, she'll live in a midweight all the time, likely with a neck cover for the colder days. I have never needed a heavyweight, even with a very cold-sensitive and lean Arab.

                            I have heard of some horses who, even clipped to some extent (obviously not a full/hunter clip) are perfectly fine down to and below 20 degrees. I just don't have one!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Guidelines from the University of Minnesota:
                              Blanketing
                              By: Marcia Hathaway, PhD, Univ. of Minn
                              Most horse owners are not sure when, or even if, they should blanket their horse. However, blanketing a horse is necessary to reduce the effects of cold or inclement weather when:

                              There is no shelter available during turnout periods and the temperatures drop below 5 F, or the wind chill is below 5 F

                              There is a chance the horse will become wet (not usually a problem with snow, but much more of a problem with rain, ice, and/or freezing rain)

                              The horse has had its winter coat clipped

                              The horse is very young or very old

                              The horse has not been acclimated to the cold (i.e. recently relocated from a southern climate)

                              The horse has a body condtion score of 3 or less

                              It is equally important that the blanket fits the horse. Horses can develop rub marks or sores where the straps secure the blanket if it fits improperly. If the horse is blanketed continuously, the blanket should be removed daily, inspected for damages, and repositioned.
                              Make sure blankets are kept dry and do not put a blanket on a wet horse; wait until the horse is dry before blanketing.

                              The equine hair coat acts as insulation by trapping air, however, if the hair is wet or full of mud, air is excluded, reducing its insulating value and increasing heat loss. As little as 0.1 inch of rain can cause cold stress by matting the hair and reducing its insulating value. It is important to keep the horse dry and sheltered from moisture. As expected, a horse with a thicker hair coat can retain more heat.
                              My experience (as a Minnesotan) I would not blanket an unclipped, healthy horse with access to shelter at all, not at all the whole winter (many thousands of horses live through the winter each year this way and are just fine ). I would blanket the clipped horse when it was below freezing, and I would blanket an older, thin horse if it is cold even when given free choice hay.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                if this was Jan, I'd say leave them

                                But, they don't have a full coat yet and this is an EARLY cold spell, not to mention the wind that is here/will be coming with it, not to mention the potential for precip.

                                *I* would put the medium weight on and the sheet on top of that. The sheet will give another air pocket layer
                                ______________________________
                                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Blanket.

                                  I've been ridiculed since I was a child for blanketing and stalling my horses.........in Savannah, GA. Then a few years ago I boarded at one barn where a paint owner from Michigan kept a sheet and a blanket and a neck sweat on her 3 yr old paint, in 85 degree weather. With the stall window shut. All the time. She even wanted to put a heat lamp in his stall for winter. Callie was stalled right next to him, and I worried that she'd have to get a bikini blanket and sunglasses for the winter. Fortunately no heat lamp was allowed.

                                  I always mention that paint and his owner every time someone accuses me of overblanketing. it's windy and cool and going to go down into high 30s tonight. Cloudy and Hattie have on their sheets. (If it were to be in the 20s, they'd have on their liners and their neck rugs as well.)

                                  BTW Hattie was born in Minnesota and she says the more blankets, the better.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Blanket.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thanks, everyone, for the input. I'll see what it actually feels like this evening, but at this point it is very windy and a few frozen bits blowing around, and that's down in the valley at work; I suspect at home I may have some snow by now.

                                      I will probably blanket the partly clipped guy, he's also the leaner type. The big fluffy QH has the better sheet so I'll decide between the two weights when I see how it actually feels at home.

                                      Both horses have in and out priviledges at all times, and my barn is fairly snug.

                                      At least we're not facing the big storm, just the side-effect of the cold front coming down around it!
                                      "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                                      Spay and neuter. Please.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by sterling2000 View Post
                                        I really play it by how the horse behaves. If it's standing in the middle of a blizzard with melted snow frozen to its fur and simply meanders over to get a bit of hay, the horse is fine. If it is standing with its tail tucked and is sort of "hunched" looking, the horse is getting a little chilly but is not unhappy and will likely warm up nicely with a full stomach. If the horse is shivering, I blanket appropriately.

                                        My "system" is pretty easy. I start blanketing when the horse tells me "this temperature/combination of wind and temps is not comfortable for me". For my working horse it is about 30 degrees dry, forty degrees wet. I realized this when I walked into the barn one morning after a 25-30 degree night and she was shivering in her stall. She is not clipped and has a thin, but not super fine, coat. It's just not as long/fluffy as any of the other horses. She is also at working-weight. The fluffy-puffy horses with more fat over their bodies are totally fine when the temps get into the twenties. Heck, even my three year old, who is not exactly fat, is fine without a blankie at nearly any temperature (dry). I know because I don't have one that fits him! My "working horse" needs a sheet during the day now, and an old (thinned down) midweight at night for the hard frosts. During the winter, when temps get into the low teens or singe digits at night, she'll live in a midweight all the time, likely with a neck cover for the colder days. I have never needed a heavyweight, even with a very cold-sensitive and lean Arab.

                                        I have heard of some horses who, even clipped to some extent (obviously not a full/hunter clip) are perfectly fine down to and below 20 degrees. I just don't have one!
                                        THIS.

                                        My horse isn't clipped. He is turned out during the day. He doesn't have shelter just a few trees for windbreak. The last barn I was at seemed to blanket pretty frequently and I didn't really have a say in what they put on him but they were on night turn out year round there.

                                        So this year, we are playing it by ear since he's out during the day and over the years, has grown a decent coat.

                                        We were surprised this past Friday with colder temps (40's) and rain. Wasn't supposed to get icky until later. BO called me and said he was shivering when he came in. She tossed his fleece cooler on him and then he was fine. She waited until he was dry and took it off. She said he seemed pretty grateful for that. Out of all the horses (about 12), only 2 were shivering (mine was one of them). So I think it really depends on the horse. Now we know, he needs a sheet then. If it hadn't rained, he would have been fine. So now if it's cloudy, windy, in the 40's and a chance of rain, he goes out with a sheet on.

                                        I told her that once the temps are just below freezing (as the HIGH for the day), we might want to toss his mid weight on him especially if it's windy/wet. Really want to avoid doing too much blanketing this year. I don't have an indoor anymore so won't be riding a ton over the winter anyways especially once the ground freezes.

                                        But again, we will play it by ear. Another thing I love about my new barn. BO is very willing to adjust as needed.

                                        Comment

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