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Katherine Blocksdorf

Take the Poll: Blanketing During the Winter Months

By November 24, 2012

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Happy Thanksgiving! While most of you were preparing for your Thanksgiving dinners and the arrival of family, I slipped out to go riding. (Our Thanksgiving was back in October.) It was quite cold this morning and the mud puddles were frozen over. As we worked though, both Trillium and I generated a bit of our own heat. When I finished riding, even though Trillium wasn't wet at all, I was concerned that her warmed muscles would get a chill when I turned her out. A cold wind had whipped up and there was rain and snow in the forecast. Although I think she's better off without a blanket, I just didn't feel good about turning her out after she had worked without one. Chances are if your horse is well fed and has a place to get out of the wind and wet, it doesn't need a blanket. But there are times when a blanket may be beneficial. What do you think? Do you blanket your horses during the colder winter months?


October 9, 2007 at 6:42 pm
(1) Les Petersen says:

I never blanket my horses, they seem to do better if they are allowed to grow their winter hair without interruption.
Often I see horses with blankets that the owners don’t stay on top of taking care of them, if the blanket is coming off or torn or the weather changes to unseasonable warm and the blankets are not taken off for the horses comfort.

October 9, 2007 at 9:13 pm
(2) Kris says:

If a horse has free access to good hay, a place to get out of the wind, and is not debilatated in any way, I don’t blanketing is necessary. If the horse is old and/or recovering from injury but needs exercise a blanket may be called for.

October 9, 2007 at 11:16 pm
(3) Kathie Carr says:

I blanket my sale horses and keep them under lights. It’s hard to market a horse that has long hair. If I get a horse in that is long-haired, I blanket it and at least try to get the long hair laying down.

October 10, 2007 at 7:22 am
(4) pauline says:

i rug mine up in winter because of where we live. being right on the east coast of northern ireland it gets very cold here. both my irish draught and my sons welsh cross pony are rugged up when they are out and at night in the stable during the winter.

October 10, 2007 at 8:03 am
(5) Mel says:

I body clip my horse for the winter, as he sweats alot during workouts in the winter, so blankets are a must. He is turned out for at least 8 hours a day and it gets very cold here in the northeast. I remove the blanket and check him every day for any rubs, never had any problems.

October 11, 2007 at 7:12 am
(6) Katherine says:

I had an old farmer come onto the yard and tell me ‘you’ll make those horses sick by making them wear blankets’. Hasn’t happened yet, but blanketing does take more time and attention.

October 11, 2007 at 11:40 am
(7) Chrissie says:

Blankets need constant attention. They need straightening to prevent slippage or ripping leading to being stood on or being torn off. That is about the blanket.
What about the horse. They can suffer rubbing or chaffing turning into sores, to say nothing of the fright of dealing with a falling rug. More important is the fact of overheating. I constantly see horses in England blanketed and even hooded in the heat of a September afternoon. I think that owners should be banned from keeping horses for allowing such conditions.
Here on the East Coast U.S.A. the winters are much more severe that the U.K. and yet the thoroughbred breeding farms sprouting up here do not blanket even in the most harsh winters. ( And often the run-ins are sheltering hay, not horses!)
Being English, I have a blanket.. but my horse doesn’t know it. I believe her cardiovascular system is better for running out in the cold, even if it hurts my conscience it seems so severe. But I cannot be at hand to correct a rug if she wore one and ultimately, that is why she is not blanketed but is left to grow a very long coat.

October 11, 2007 at 7:43 pm
(8) rebecca says:

Well i never blanket my horse in the winter . It is cold but not very.I mean if it is like frostbite cold then yeahh i will blanket her. she is a Pintabian so shse is hott blooded.

October 1, 2008 at 10:31 pm
(9) Nan says:

I only blanket my old mare at the barn if she is having trouble staying warm. I will blanket if I’m hauling in a stock trailer or camping in cold weather, especialy a cold rain.

October 5, 2008 at 7:31 pm
(10) K Sales says:

Our weather in Tennessee is very unpredictable. It may be 70 degrees in January and then start to rain and plunge into the teens. My horses never grow enough coat to keep them warm when they get soaking wet and the north wind blows, so I blanket them as soon as they start to shiver badly and pull the blankets as soon as it warms up.

November 4, 2008 at 7:30 am
(11) pamela hayden says:

I dont make it a habit of blanketing horses for our winters as I am a believer in the animal’s ability for adaption to our Ontario climates. Having said that, I ride a 12yr old Thrbrd from California and he does need to be blanketed. I check the fitting daily and brush out his coat to ensure there are no signs of chafing and such. It really depends on each horse, elements and provided shelter.

November 12, 2008 at 1:03 pm
(12) Mustang Blue says:

Unless a horse is sick, or underweight and having problems keeping warm, or is clipped, I normally do NOT blanket.
Mother Nature designed them to comfortably survive cold or inclimate weather. Their long wintre hair is designed to stand up and trap air for insulation, and lie down t cool themselves if they get to warm..blanketing inhibits this natural process and may actually cauise ahorse to become chiled if it sweats unde the blanket. Blanketing may also cause problems with bacteria and other coat malodies.
The only other exception for when I might consider blanketing, is after a COLD wet rain in fall or spring, followed by a bone chilling high wind and the horse is wet and shivering…I will remove the blanket as soon as the horse is dry and has stopped shivering.

November 4, 2009 at 11:12 pm
(13) Michelle says:

Living in the White Mtn’s of NH, I do Blanket my older TB mare, I let nature take its course by allowing her to grow her winter coat for the most part. If like tonight, it is raining/snowing then plunging to 22 with 10-15 mph winds, I will put on a light weight coat to help her thru the pm. Once winter sets in a heavier blanket is on her if it goes below 30, and off if the sun is out and above 30 in the am, I also give her free choice hay, and plenty off clean heated water.. she also has a large run-in to get out of the wind. you have to become part weather man when it comes to blanketing your horse, you can not just put one on, and forget about it, but in my case with my older TB mare it is just part of owning her.. :) she is a diva

November 5, 2009 at 2:41 pm
(14) JD says:

Blanketing a horse is about the worse thing you can do for the overall welfare of the horse. I live in MT and discussed this with many people like Leslie Desmond, Buck Branamann, and the late Ray Hunt. The prevailing view is let the horse be a horse. Feed him well on cold days and let his body take care of itself. It’s so easy to project a human view on the horse.

November 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm
(15) Debbie says:

I am a new horse owner and wanted to thank everyone for there comments as I have purchased some blankets and was unsure about when I should be using them. I live in the northeast and we have some very cold windy days and nights. My horses have access to a run in shed when outside and we our in the process of building a barn so I guess I wasted my money on blankets and will try to return them. I did buy a couple of unlined waterproof blankets which I think I will use on the really cold rainy days.

November 10, 2009 at 4:33 pm
(16) Nancy says:

Blanketing a horse prevents it’s bodies way of cooling and heating naturally. Horses bodies are made to withstand all sorts of weather. WE put them in stalls, seperating them from their herd and that is not THEIR choice or to THEIR benefit. It wasn’t until horses came under the “care” of humans did they start getting things such as colic, founder, even bad temperments etc. Horses used to live well into their 40′s but with all the fancy blankets and wraps and stalls and nailing shoes into their hoofs (which prevents them from absorbing shock as they naturally should) we provide that lifespan has been cut nearly in half. Let a horse be a horse and you will see that happiness 10 fold!

November 10, 2009 at 4:40 pm
(17) Jean says:

I totally agree with the above statement from “Nancy”. If you all truly love horses think about WHY you are doing the things you do, not just because that is what is popular or what everyone at the barn is doing…ask “is this beneficial to my horse?”. I suggest everyone read “The Soul of a Horse” by Joe Camp. You will never look at a horse the same way again…for the better. http://www.benji.com/JoeCamp/author.htm

November 10, 2009 at 5:00 pm
(18) Mr B says:

I have 2 geldings; a 12yo paint & a 6yo Trekahner. We are in the far north of BC Canada, nearly to Alaska. I never blanket. They have trees and open stalls for shelter. I could see it if it’s a show horse and needs to keep a light showy coat. And maybe a lite-wt sheet in the summer to stop sunburn & discolouring. In either case continuous monitoring is needed for safety.

November 10, 2009 at 5:52 pm
(19) Jenn Gray says:

I never blanket my guys. They grow beautiful winter coats. The only time I blanket is if the temp goes below 20 for more than 2 days.

November 10, 2009 at 6:20 pm
(20) Lynn says:

I have two old rescue horses a standardbred and a thoroughbred who I know grew up with blankets. However, they are fat girls now, come in at night and have a really nice big shelter full of hay. They have nice thick coats thanks to ground flax seed, apple cider vinegar and Purina senior feed. In the morning they are quite anxious to get outside and I am not prepared to take my life into my hands to spend half an hour adjusting blankets. I love them to death but I think they will survive the day without freezing to death. If it is a really awful day then they gladly come into the barn. I have never seen them shiver as their shelter is cozy and roomy. However, if they didn’t have a shelter or a barn or just a small shelter then I would blanket them. I think blankets are for people and long horse hair is for horses. I think they would be really warm in their shelter with blankets on all day. When I showed them their blankets they looked at me like I was crazy. So I put them away never to be seen again. It’s the flies I worry about. They drive them crazy, and I wss thinking about fly sheets rather than all the spray all the time. Now, that stuff has got to be bad for them.

November 10, 2009 at 7:57 pm
(21) maureen says:

I blanket my rescued 17 yr old thoroughbred mare when its wet and cold as she really shivers in that – ailthough she is healthy now. I do not want her to suffer the cold – no merit in that!

November 10, 2009 at 9:06 pm
(22) Angie says:

I blanket my nearly 28 year old QH mare. I do let her grow her winter wooliest the best she can then blanket her when the temps plunge into the teens. Freezing rain isn’t her idea of fun, she lets me know when she want to be in her stall too! She gets good quality hay and feed. As long as she keeps fit a little weight on (which can be difficult for her now days) she does very well. I am very conscientious about when it goes on and getting it off before it gets too warm.
I have a Shetland Pony and wouldn’t dream of putting one on her. My gelding shivers occasionally but he and the others are put their stalls on the cold wet days & it saves the little bit of pasture I do have.

November 11, 2009 at 12:32 am
(23) Sandra says:

Here in the Raleigh, NC area, it really doesn’t get cold enough to blanket. My current horse is hardy as can be. I did, a few times, blanket my last horse who was in her late twenties and had cushings. There are twenty some horses my boarding barn, and no one blankets routinely.

November 13, 2009 at 11:10 am
(24) Teri says:

I sometmes blankey my horse.I prefer for him to grow his own winter coat , but where I live, the temp can change rapidly.In October the temps had been in the 50-60 range during the day.One day it was 63 degrees and the next day it was 16!And dropping lower at night.I blanketed him because he really hadn’t had the opportunity to grow a thick enough coat to keep him warm.I only kept it on for as long as it was below 40 degrees.I live west of Butte Montana , mile high in the mountains , and we get extreme weather,Weeks below zero in the winter,If the sun is shining , no blanket , but if it’s 25 below zero and cloudy he’s blanketed.He makes a beautiful winter coat!, but sometimes he needs a little extra protection.And his blanket is always clean and in good repair.

November 14, 2009 at 11:51 am
(25) jane says:

i do not blanket my horses ( i have 4 horses and a pony), they grow nice wooly winter coats (even my TB). i think they are much healthier growing a winter coat and also not being locked in a stall. my horses are able to come and go as they please. the only time they would be blanketed or stalled is if they were sick or injured. one of my guys is a 34+ year old saddlebred and he does fine during the winter months. i asked my vet if i should start blanketing him because of his age and he said no he’s better off being natural. also none of my horses wear shoes (this includes the TB) and they have the best feet. shoeing just ruins their feet. we should all let our horses be horses.

December 8, 2009 at 3:14 pm
(26) Liz ellis says:

Here is how I feel about it. If I see that they are shivering then on goes the blanket. I am feeding them to maintain a good weight. If they are shivering then they are using up energy that I am paying for and using up more feed.

January 22, 2011 at 10:52 am
(27) Carmela says:

I have two older Quarter Horse geldings and live in the Catskill Mtns of NY. Last night the temp dropped to 4 and they were fine with their own winter coats. Tonight, however, is going to drop to 10 below 0 so I am considering blanketing the older one. . .we’ll see. Blanketing is very specific to the individual horse and his needs. Generally speaking, we feel better if our horses are in a stall and wearing a blanket on a cold night but is that what is best for them? Not necessarily.

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