“Does my horse need to wear a blanket?” This is one of the most common questions our experts hear. By nature, horses are fairly well equipped to handle chilly weather, and it could be that your equine friend only needs to wear a horse blanket during the coldest days and nights of the year. Read on to learn more about winter blanketing.
The Old Argument Against Blankets for Horses
Some people adamantly refuse to provide horse blankets for their animals, saying that their horse’s winter coat is enough to keep him warm and dry. Reach beneath a horse’s long, shaggy hair in winter and you may feel that he’s just fine underneath. But what if it’s windy, raining incessantly, or below freezing? Some old farmers still don’t blanket their horses and though they look pathetic, they usually make it through the winter.
Why Blanket Your Horse?
Some horses really do need blankets to survive cold temperatures. Those with thin hair coats, horses that have been clipped, and older horses, foals, and those with health complications do much better during winter when they wear blankets. But what about the rest? How do horse blankets help?
- Horse blankets are necessary to protect clipped horses from cold temperatures
- Blanketing protects thin-skinned or short-coated horses from biting cold
- High-quality horse blankets protect horses during weather that’s routinely colder than 10 degrees Fahrenheit
- Blankets provide protection from the elements in areas where shelter is limited
Using a Horse Blanket Effectively
When used improperly, horse blankets can cause more harm than good. For example, winter blankets need to be waterproof and breathable. They should be lightweight so that the horse’s hair can work normally, insulating the skin from cold temperatures. Here are a few more tips for safe, effective winter blanketing.
- Ensure you choose a blanket in the right size. See this quick guide to learn how to measure your horse for a blanket.
- Be sure that your horse is clean and dry before blanketing.
- Look for temperature ratings on blankets as you shop. If your weather is usually around 40 degrees in winter, your horse will do best in a lightweight blanket. If temperatures drop to -10 degrees, a heavyweight horse blanket is better.
- Pay close attention to the weather, and do not leave your horse’s blanket on when temperatures warm up. Sweating inside a blanket can lead to serious discomfort, cause fungal infections, and lead to health problems.
- Remove your horse’s blanket frequently during winter and groom him thoroughly. Check for any signs of improper fit, and look for damage to the blanket. Any fasteners or attachments that are not secure should be repaired immediately, as a blanket that slips can lead to serious injury or death.
Properly used, a horse blanket will keep your equine friend feeling warm and comfortable during the coldest days and nights of the year. Help him stay warmer naturally by ensuring that he has plenty of forage, as the digestive process boosts body heat, and do your best to ensure that he always has access to shelter from the wind, snow, and rain. It takes a little effort to keep your horse in top shape all winter long, but the reward – a happy, healthy horse – makes all that effort worthwhile.