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Does a horse need to be blanketed during the winter months if they have access to shelter? How cold does it have to be before you decide to blanket?

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Blanketing a horse is an indiviual need of the horse. It all depends on where the horse was raised, was it stall kept at night, under lights etc..
If you get a horse say from a sale and you do not know it history don't blanket let him grow his coat and watch him. Check at night to see if he "feels warm".
I never blanketed a horse till I got a Cutting horse from MO, one rainy October morning I showed up to feed and he was shivering...So I had to go buy a blanket since I didnt own one! It turns out he was stall kept, under lights all that BS, and quite pampered before me.
The horse I ride now is pasture kept, he has a great shed they let his coat grow in a little then blanketed him.
What's his history?
I just read about this topic in Trail Rider or Western Horseman, can't remember which. The article said the same as everyone here, that it depends on the horse itself. But, it did say if you do blanket, you need to completely remove the blanket on a very regular basis to check for spots that may be rubbing and also to brush the horse. Leaving a blanket on for an extended time can cause more problems than it cures.
Does he have a good winter coat?
I agree with Mary & Diana's replies but would like to add .... age of horse and body score should be taken into the decision. It is important to remember that horses burn calories in order to stay warm. Also older horses (literature states 20+) generally have some type of arthritis and the warmth helps them. The most important thing (if you blanket and the horse is turned out) is to make sure the blanket is water proof , breathable and fits correctly. My horse knew nothing but training barns with lights when I purchased him (at 8 yr old) I trained him to be a trail horse but he still has to be blanketed in the winter. I board at a stable and it is the owners choice on what to do but last night we were blanketing some horses that are never blanketed as they were shivering. A 32 yr old QH seemed really happy afterwards!
Great point Nancy!
I don't usually blanket a horse unless it is a damp wet cold,the kind that forms ice on their coats. Then I might just till it dries out and is sunny again. I just figure that the Good Lord gave a horse what it needs in nature to survive and we should'nt mess with that to much! I know there are certain circumstance's that a blanket may be needed. But if your horse is healthy and has a thick Winter coat,I'd just let it be!!! Do brush their coats to make them insulate better.I like to leave hay for them 24 hours a day ,so they can eat and have energy to produce heat,and if they are moving around they are producing heat. So I personally would rather see them be able to move around and generate heat, than be in a stall where they move a lot less. That's just my opinion,and everybody has one!!!HA-HA!!!
Thanks everyone for the input. They all have access to hay 24/7 and have shelter. I haven't noticed any of them shivering when I feed in the am and pm. But I don't remember having so may days in a row where the temperatures were below freezing so I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing by not blanketing.
I am not sure what the correct answer is. I will say this, I have a horse in his mid-twenties that has lost a lot of body weight this year. He eats and drinks well, but is not maintaining his weight. After I put a heavy blanket on him, his attitude improved. He is more active and seems more content. He is starting to re-gain some much needed weight. Correct or not, I don't know. But, a blankt is helping out old General.
I would be careful about blanketing,if the blanket gets wet it can make a horse get sick real fast.My horses are out,with a shelter(which they never use)and hay at least 3 x's a day in this cold weather and I have never had a problem
Living in New England we sure do get some nasty weather. I for one, do not blanket and my guy is in an in/out situation that he can come and go as he pleases into shelter. I increase his hay dramatically and if its colder, he gets more as has to fuel his furnace. One thing I added last year that really helped to keep his weight was rice bran oil for fat. I started this about January last winter but earlier this winter since we have had some deep freezes. There have been a couple of nights that I have put his rain sheet on him because the wind has been so wicked.

As long as the temp is in the teens you may want to give your horses another ration of hay throughout the day and extend the evening before you go to bed. Watch for shivering otherwise they should be fine. I would pay particular attention to Ace because of his condition. If you do use a blanket make sure you check underneath now and again to make sure they are not sweating. Remove the blanket and groom the horse periodically. Also, If they don't otherwise seem cold but they get wet and shiver then bring them in and that should be sufficient.
Thanks Derek, Ace seems fine so far. He has the thickest hair coat of them all. They have a round bale to eat whenever they want. It just so cold! I can't believe that they are able to stay warm in these temperatures.


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