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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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I am glad that someone started this discussion, i am too unsure about when to blanket and when not, my horses all have stalls freedom to go in or out, they are grained morning and night, hayed up morning night and before i go to bed, this last few days when it has been so cold i have rugged them all, its hard to cross over from the human way of thinking to how they think and feel, my husband jokes that i would bring them in the house and sit them on the couch in front of the TV in this weather if i could get away with it, and he is probably right !!!! i try to remove the blankets in the day if the temps are up, but this cold has stuck around, so i groomed them all well on sunday and re-blanketed them, i think also keeping a check of coats and condition is crucial, my draft came from SC so he probably feels it a little although he has a thick coat, for the interim of this cold snap i will keep the blankets on, i know a lot of it is that i feel better that they are protected, cant wait for the nice shiny sleek summer coats to come back !!!! keep warm everybody
I too use to struggle with whether to blanket or not! A friend sent this article to me last year when I was looking for advice. Check it out, it's a really good article!


Like so many have said - I think you have to evaluate each situation and do what is best for the horse. But after reading the article I won't blanket unless there is a weight or medical need.
Thanks Kim, that was a good article and makes me feel better about not blanketing unless I see them shivering. It truly is amazing that they can keep themselves warm in this frigid weather.
Very interesting article
Great article.
when to blanket is only half the problem ,way to many people put blankets on at night ,an then take them off in the mornings before they go to work,the temps generaly drop just before dawn,an when you take the blankets off ,they hit a sudden temperature change,theres when the problems start,of coarse leaving them on to long an they start sweating is also just as bad,use good judgement when using blankets,some horses benfit from them ,,most dont ,,an as for shivering ,thats natures way of producing more heat,,,but like many others i to blanket when they seem cold ,but im really careful when i take them off,,,,check your blanket to make sure they are of good quality ,a thin/cheap blanket will do more harm than good ,it flatten out their hair ,thus their insulation,an in turn will cause more health problems than no blanket at all,,,again use good judgement on an off
Not only does a blanket keep them warm but, they'll have a nicer coat come spring.They'll loose that winter coat faster.
Just checked on all my horses and they were all just fine,I was worried about them last night but they all made it just fine!!! I do not have blankets on my horses and they seem ok. I do own waterproof turn out blankets and will use them if it gets wet and freezing. I hope all horses did alright last night!!! Audrey
Thanks for posting this link: http://www.equinesoundness.com/NewsletterMarch2009.pdf
It is a great article with lots of good information.
My two have 24/7 access to the barn and hay; I do not use blankets. All the hay the horse can eat, along with unfrozen water, is important in the winter. The fermentation of the hay during digestion generates heat to keep the horse warm from the inside out. From what I have read, grain does not have the same affect. My two have heavy winter coats. If the weather calls for wet and cold, I keep them in the barn (my barn keeps the rain and wind off the horses, it hs the same outside temp). I have brought them in with a blanket of snow on them. When I brushed them off, the below coat and skin were dry and warm. Rain with freezing temps, I keep them in because the rain penetrates the winter coat. As they age and their needs change, I will blanket them to keep them comfortable. I trail ride during the winter, too. Keeping them acclimated to the cold without blankets, ensures they are compfortable when we are riding in the snow.

'....and God took a bit of Southerly wind, blew his breath over it, and created the horse.'
If you start blanketing your horse you will have to continue to do so until it warms up. I have 2 with no blankets which are outside and they are fine. Mainly what I don't like is for them to get sleet on them, they can get frostbite on their ear tips, etc. but I have never been a big blanket person unless the horse is showing. God gave them what they need to keep warm as long as they are fed well, and have a good fresh water supply they should be fine - my opinion.
Our horses spend most of their time outside. The only time they really come in is if it is below 30 and raining and/or windy. We blanket them if temps go below 25 (probably don't need it but it helps me feel better!) I put their neck blankets on if it gets into the teens. I think horses will learn to tolerate temps as low as it goes, coat growing thicker as weather needs it. I just like to give them a break from having to hold their coat up or bracing against the wind and they seem to move around more in that type of weather when blanketed. To avoid the wet blanket thing, we spray ours with that boot waterproofing or even scotchguard repellent once a year.


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