Should horses have blankets in winter?
When temperatures drop below freezing point during winter, it is only natural for caring horse owners to wonder whether their four-legged friends need blankets. Well, horses have protective hair coats equipped to handle harsh winter conditions. So they’ll probably not require blankets, especially if they have access to shelter.
When you should consider blanketing horses
While horses are adapted to the cold season, there are circumstances where you will want to provide them with some level of protection against temperature changes. Here’s when to consider blanketing your horse:
Horse is body-clipped
Since the thick coats encourage heavy sweating and are slow to dry, you may opt for body clipping if you regularly ride your horse. If that’s the case, then your horse will need a blanket to keep the body heat they produce. Of course, this is recommended even if the horse has shelter.
Ideally, you should provide your horse with a lightweight blanket if the temperatures drop to 40s. For temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, cover your horse with a mid – to heavyweight blanket. Use a heavyweight blanket when temperatures hit the 20s. You will need to add a sheet or liner if the temperature is below 20.
For unclipped horses, you might consider a heavyweight blanket in case the temperatures fall below 10.
Horse recently moved from a warmer climate
Transitioning from a warmer to a cold climate is a challenge for many horses. While horses can acclimate quickly, experts recommend blanketing them during the first year.
Senior horse with a low body condition score
As horses grow old, they undergo biological changes that affect their ability to maintain core temperature. Senior horses typically have reduced levels of fat and muscles, which means a drop in body condition score. If the score of your horse is less than 5, it is best to put a blanket on your horse. Hard keepers, also known as thin horses, tend to burn extra calories to keep their bodies warm.
Foals are susceptible to cold. Blanketing foals is necessary unless they are in a well-bedded stall or heated barn. And even if you kept foals indoors, you will still need to put blankets on them when turned out, whether it is for short periods.
Horse Blanketing Tips
Now let’s share some tips to help keep your four-legged friend comfortable in winter.
Groom before blanketing
It is not advisable to put a blanket on your horse without grooming your horse first. Otherwise, the blanket might get soiled with dirt and debris, and this might decrease its efficiency in providing warmth to your horse. In some cases, it can lead to irritation.
Use an appropriate blanket
Horse blankets are available in different types. You will find stable blankets, stable sheets, turnout blankets, and turnout sheets. Stable blankets and sheets are not waterproof and, therefore, ideal for horses with permanent shelter.
Turnout blankets and sheets, on the other hand, are waterproof. They are a perfect option for horses that cannot fully escape the harsh weather elements. If you can’t use a waterproof blanket, then it’s better to leave your horse without one because you’ll end up making your horse even chillier.
Adjust to temperature changes accordingly
Blankets and sheets have different thicknesses that accommodate your horse warmth needs. You may need to buy more than one blanketing option so that you can adjust to the temperature changes as necessary.
Well, the warmth of a blanket is measured in grams of fill. Lightweight blankets or sheets contain 0 to 100 grams of fill. Medium weight blankets have 150 to 250 grams of fill, whereas heavyweight blankets contain over 300 grams of fill.
Ensure the blankets fit properly
Many horse owners usually don’t pay attention to the check fit requirement. If the blankets don’t fit right, they can lead to several issues. They can cause shoulder and wither rubs, as well as injuries.
Please keep in mind that blanketing horses comes with a new set of responsibilities. You have to keep an eye on your horse and ensure the blankets don’t get wet. If they get wet, be sure to change them.