To Blanket or Not to Blanket Your Horse??
Do you start blanketing your horse when temperatures drop below forty degrees, or do you hold off until the cold below freezing temperatures hit, or do you blanket your horse at all? The truth about it all is that most horses do fine without blankets throughout winter. Of course, horses will need adequate shelter to protect them from the elements and plenty of forage and energy to generate heat.
Horse’s Winter Coats:
Horse’s coats are composed of two types of hair: a fluffy undercoat that acts as an insulator and a stiffer protective coat called guard hairs. The outer coat helps to shed rain and collect moisture to keep the undercoat clean and fluffy so that the undercoat can provide insulation. The undercoat provides insulation by trapping body heat and air, it is dense and soft and acts like the lining of your jacket. The hairs are attached to a layer of muscle that move the hair as needed to provide additional insulation. When the hair is standing up, it will give the horse a “puffed up” look to trap more air in the fur to keep them warm. Their hair can even point in different directions to deflect wind and weather.
Reasons to Blanket:
- If you have clipped your horse and they no longer have enough of their winter coat to keep them warm
- You horse has moved from warmer climates and hasn’t adapted to the colder climate yet
- You have an older horse that has a hard time staying warm
- Your horse is a “hard keeper” who has trouble holding weight during the cold months
- It isn’t only cold but it’s wet
- There isn’t adequate shelter
Reasons not to Blanket:
- You can save money and not purchase a blanket
- Generally, horse’s grow enough hair to act as their own “blanket”
- When temperatures suddenly rise you don’t have to worry about your horse overheating if the blanket isn’t removed in a timely matter
- No blanket repairs
- You remove the risk of them getting caught up in their blanket
When considering your horse’s comfort level during the winter months, diet is important. If you decide not to blanket your horse it is important that your horse is getting the proper amount of calories to keep them warm during the colder temperatures. Blanketing or not, diet is very important to provide your horse with the proper nutrition to keep them healthy. If your horse is a hard keeper, adding a supplement like Super Weight Gain into their diet is a smart way to keep the calories up in your horse’s diet and weight on you horse during the colder months.