Much of the country is still experiencing winter temperatures. Some horses may need a little extra help staying warm during cold weather, but how do you determine whether your horse may need a blanket or a turnout coat?
Horses that grow a heavy winter hair coat and aren’t being worked often do just fine with no blankets. As long as they can get out of the wind and moisture, have adequate food and no health problems, they are usually comfortable.
On the other hand, thin horses, horses with thin coats of hair, and elderly or ill horses may benefit from a blanket. If your horse is clipped to allow him to be worked even in frigid weather, he will benefit from a blanket – at least at night and in his stall.
A blanket is designed to be worn only in a stall. Most of them are not waterproof and they don’t have adequate straps to prevent shifting of the blanket if the horse is active. Turnout blankets tend to be waterproof, warmer and have multiple straps, including around each leg to help hold the covering in place.
With a blanket or turnout coat on, you can’t forget regular care for your horse. Winter clothing should be removed every day so that your horse can be groomed. Check for any areas where the straps or coat may be rubbing or irritating your horse. Reset the blanket on properly. Always make sure your horse is clean before you put a blanket on as well. You may need to have two coverings for your horse. That way if one gets soaked or really dirty, you have a spare for him to wear while the first one gets cleaned.
If the weather takes an unexpected turn for the better, it is a good idea to remove the coat. Otherwise, your horse may sweat underneath. As the temperatures go down later in the day, he will be cold from the moisture trapped underneath. Wet hair under a blanket can also lead to skin problems – another good reason for daily equine grooming.