As the days get shorter, and the nights get cooler, it’s time to start thinking about your horse’s fall and winter wardrobe. Blanket shopping is exciting and fun, but it can also be a daunting task. With so many different types and styles of blankets, it can be tough to know where to begin. SmartPak offered the following facts to help you make smart blanketing decisions.
To blanket or not to blanket?
Every horse is an individual, and the decision to blanket should be based on each horse’s unique needs. Your horse’s environment, along with other individual factors like the length of his hair coat, amount of body fat and how well he tolerates the cold, should all be taken into account when deciding if, when and how much to blanket.
If your horse is clipped and has a short coat all winter, he’ll need blankets to make up for the warmth he isn’t getting from a thick winter coat. On the other hand, if you look outside and think there’s a woolly mammoth in your pasture instead of a horse, his winter coat may be thick enough to keep him warm by itself.
Horses use calories in the winter to keep themselves warm. If your horse is a hard keeper who already has a tough time maintaining his ideal weight, you don’t want him to burn all his calories staying warm. In addition to providing a steady supply of quality forage to make up for the calories he’s burning, adding a blanket for an extra layer of warmth may be appropriate.
If your horse lives outside and has a shelter to go into when the weather gets windy and wet, his winter coat, as long as he’s not clipped, may be enough to keep him warm without a blanket. But if your horse can’t get out of the elements when he’s turned out, a waterproof turnout blanket will help him stay warm and dry through rain, sleet and snow. You should also consider that someone will need to check your horse regularly to make wardrobe changes as needed, make sure that the blanket isn’t shifting or tangling, and remove the blanket to check his skin underneath.
Like people, some horses tolerate cold better than others. A horse who is less tolerant of cold temperatures may benefit from the extra warmth a blanket will provide. On the other hand, horses who don’t show signs of being cold (such as shivering or their hair standing up) as soon as other horses may need to be blanketed less heavily or not at all.
By keeping these factors in mind, you’re on your way to making smart blanketing choices this season.
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