Using blankets is one of the greatest methods to keep your horse looking its best without having too much hair during the cold months, and it also cuts down on the time you need to groom its coat to keep it looking nice between shows or competitions. Here are some helpful tips for blanketing your horse.
When should you blanket your horse?
If a horse has a thick enough coat of hair and is in excellent health, it can often maintain a comfortable temperature without using horse sheets. All these horses need is enough food and access to a windbreak or shelter.
Nevertheless, blanketing may be necessary during winter to keep your horse comfortable. Some horses struggle to maintain a comfortable body temperature in colder climates.
Consider utilizing a horse blanket in the following scenarios:
- It is your horse’s first winter after spending the previous one in a warm climate. It’s unlikely that their coat has thickened enough to keep them warm during that first winter.
- The horse you own is elderly and lives outside. Older horses are less capable of thermoregulation than younger ones.
- You have an outside-residing foal. The ability of foals to control their body temperature is inferior to that of an adult horse.
- Your horse is unable to reach a suitable shelter. Lack of shelter makes it more difficult for horses to regulate their body temperature in chilly and windy conditions.
- Your horse is unwell or underweight.
- You clip your horse for performance and exercise. Equine-clipped horses need blanketing to replace their lost body hair, just like dressage saddle pads for protection during the performance.
- Generally, a horse blanket can help a horse stay warm and avoid excessive heat loss due to exposure to rain, ice, freezing rain, or cold outside.
Blanketing is generally not recommended for:
- Sufficiently-coated stalled horses maintained in heated barns.
- Horses with adequate coating and general health. A horse blanket flattens the coat, reducing its efficiency as a natural insulating layer.
Know how your horse’s coat grows.
Horses develop weather-appropriate coats to shield them from the elements. Horses with natural coats stay warm in the winter because individual coat hairs contain air between them to trap body heat. The coat appears fuzzy because the hairs thicken and spread out to offer insulation.
When it snows, the hairs on a horse’s coat stand on a point, trap air between them and shelter the skin to offer protection and stop the body from losing heat. In cold temperatures, snow can also act as a layer of insulation. The duration of the day fluctuations influence the growth of the winter coat.
Ensure safety when blanketing your horse.
The correct usage of blankets is necessary to prevent problems with health and safety. Take these suggestions into account when using a horse turnout sheet:
- Ensure that the straps and fasteners are well-fastened before blanketing.
- Make sure the blanket is clean before covering your horse
- Don’t cover a sweating horse with a blanket.
- Regularly remove the blankets to groom your horse and look for scratches or sores.
- Pick a blanket that you can quickly remove when necessary.
Pay attention to weather patterns when you clip your horse.