When to Blanket Your Horse in Winter
By Melissa Hower-Moritz, Ph.D.
From Horse And Rider

Knowing when to blanket your horse can help keep him comfortable through
inclimate weather.  Use this handy checklist to decide if it's time to offer your
horse a little extra warmth this winter with a blanket.

Some horses are happy in all but the most bitter temperatures, while others
shiver on the first cold night of fall. To figure out if your horse needs a
blanket, answer the following yes-or-no questions. A "yes" answer to any
one means your horse would appreciate a little extra insulation.

1. Is it below 50 degrees Fahrenheit? Even if your horse has a natural
(unclipped) haircoat, he may appreciate a blanket at this temperature. This
is just a general rule of thumb, since other factors (such as wind, humidity
and/or precipitation) may call for a blanket when it's warmer. On the other
hand, some horses acclimate to colder temperatures, especially those with
thick hair coats.

2. Is his coat clipped? If so, your horse may need a blanket (or at least a
sheet) when the mercury drops below 60 degrees F.

3. Does he usually live indoors? If your horse lives even part of the time in a
warm barn, he'll feel the cold more than a horse that lives outside full time.

4. Does he live in an open pasture? A full-time outdoor horse will grow a
heavy coat to ward off the elements, but wind and rain can destroy that
insulating effect. If there's no shelter in his pasture, he may need wind- and
water-resistant horse clothing to stay warm.

5. Is his stall drafty? Drafts in your barn may have the same effect as
outside breezes--they blow away that layer of warm air next to your horse's
skin, making him feel colder.

6. Is he shivering? Don't go by formulas--check your horse to see whether
he's too cold. If he's shivering, blanket him (or add blankets) and get him to
a shelter. (To see if your horse is too warm, slide your hand under his
blanket; if he's sweaty, he needs a lighter covering, or none at all.)
Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156          fax: 301-421-9049


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