Friday, December 10, 2010

A Tale of Two Coats Part Deaux

Recently we were gifted with a horse blanket. We're pretty excited about the development, because it's sort of like getting a new outfit for your dog.

Yes, we dress our dogs. Cuz otherwise they are NAKED!

Anyway, we are a little out of control with blanketing. The blanket is for Lily. Because this is Smokey's coat:

And this is Lily's coat:

But apparently we are a little overly concerned. If I had a coat on, then my horse got a coat on. Not a good measure, I'm told.

But look at that! Lily has the equivalent of a wind breaker and Smokey is in a down coat!

So I have a question for all you cold weather people. When do you put a blanket on your horse when she can't grow a decent coat? Since we don't live with our horses, we have to plan for late night drops by coming by in the evening and putting on the blanket. So I'm looking for a temperature range (we were working with 30s, but I was told I was over blanketing).

I don't want to wait until she's shivering!


Crystal said...

Wow hard to believe she has no hair! Especially when Smokey has lots. I dont know the temperatures in your area, but I would be more worried about wet than cold. They can tolerate lots of cold if they have a place out of the wind, but if they get wet thats not good, thats seems to be when they get really cold.

Jeni said...

Here in Southern Ohio (yes it gets down right cold here) the "professionals" say anything lower than 40.

I think you are fine if temp is going below 30.

If you leave blanket on Lily for 30 minutes to an hour - how does she feel under it? I think that's the best judge of when it's righ to blanket or not. Honestly everyone has an opinion but I believe it all depends on the horse.

Allenspark Lodge said...

There is a really good article concerning this at this website:

The best advice I go by is to add about 10# more hay for every 10* below freezing. Horses can withstand a huge amount of cold; their gut is their furnace (horses actually developed in the coldest regions on Earth). Feed their belly and you are feeding their furnace; no blankets needed unless they are hugely underweight or quite elderly and the furnace has slowed down. It's also true that the biggest worry is wet AND windy. The wind fluffs up the hair when the horse needs it close to protect from the wet. Each horse tends to develop the hair that's needed. We have two with little hair and three with LOTS of hair (like polar bears) and they all get along fine as long as I feed enough. An extra bale of hay tossed on the ground on cold nights is much less worry and less expensive than blankets.
Just my 2 cents,

jane augenstein said...

I live in Southeastern Ohio and it gets pretty darned cold here. It was 10 degrees the other night. I don't blanket my horse or donkey both have very heavy winter coats. I have never seen either one shiver even when standing in cold rain. They have a barn they can get in if they want but most of the time they stand outside with the butts to the wind. Last winter Gilly and Pokey both had icicles hanging on them. But still they didn't seem to be cold. I even put my fingers under Gilly's hair and he was warm!

My neighbors horse has a coat about like your Lily's. She doesn't seem cold when the temps drop, she usually stays in her stall or under the run in shed when it rains though. But my neighbor has never seen her shiver so she has never blanketed her either.

I guess you have to do what you think is best for your horse. I have always heard not to blanket unless they are shivering or sick. But every horse is different so I think I would just observe and see if she seems cold before putting on a blanket. Horses are a lot tougher than we think they are. Freezing to us isn't that bad for them.
Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

It depends on the coat. Smokey looks good down to 10 degrees or so, but might need a medium-weight turnout if there were a lot of wind. Lilly looks like she'd need one if temps were in the 20s, or in the 30s with wind - she might well be OK in the 30s without much wind. I'd judge by how they act and seem to feel - if they're hunkered down, with butts to the wind and not grazing or eating, they're too cold. If they're happy and eating, they're fine. I do it by how many layers I have to wear to be comfortable, but that won't work in your part of the world.

Our Dawn doesn't get much of a coat - she's out today without a blanket - it's in the 30s with wind chills in the high 20s.

Obviously if it's wet that's something different - a wet horse gets cold very fast as they lose their insulating value.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

My neighbor's rule for her show horses is that if she needs a coat, her horses need a blanket, but that's because she doesn't want them to be hairy when the show season begins in February. My rule of thumb is that I start putting the blankets on at night if it gets below freezing. They wear them during the day if it is cold, windy or wet.

The boarders next door have never bothered with blankets, but they decided to start blanketing their horses this winter for some reason.

Shirley said...

Since the temperatures here are so different than yours, my methods probably wouldn't work for you. I agree with Allenspark about increasing the hay to keep them warm. I'd rather overfeed than have a horse lose weight in the cold. I blanket Beamer as soon as it starts freezing because I ride him all winter and don't like a lot of hair if he gets sweated up when I'm riding. If it gets really warm during the day he gets some turn out time without a blanket, but around 3 PM it goes back on.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I very rarely blanket my horses, usually when it's freezing, windy and wet, and then it's usually just Annie and maybe Nadia. They can withstand lots of cold naturally. I usually blanket them when they look shivery. Annie is thin and has a slight coat so she always gets the coldest. Some horses tend to have less hair than others anyway. The best way to judge if a horse is warm enough, in my opinion, is if they get snowed on and the snow doesn't melt. Of course, that's going to be hard to do in southern Texas. ;)
Blanket if you don't want Lily to grow hair otherwise you probably don't need to.

Merri said...

I would just add more hay, not a blanket. Otherwise the horses won't grow the coat they need, and you will be blanketing all winter.
If you see them shivering, give them a windbreak and more hay, and they'll keep working on a thicker coat.
- The Equestrian Vagabond

jme said...

we're up here in new york by the massachusetts border, so we get some pretty cold days here. most of mine grow wooly coats in winter and look more or less like yaks. but nate doesn't grow much of anything, so the decision to give him another layer is something i worry about too.

as a rule, if they aren't showing or working super hard in winter, i don't clip them, so they go without blankets unless it's wet or windy, in which case they get a waterproof, breathable sheet. they also move around a lot, have the option of shelters, and i give them 24/7 access to hay, which is a big factor in keeping them warm.

even though nate has a thin coat, he's a big-bodied boy at 1600lbs and eats lots of hay, so i have only had to give him an extra layer once or twice in the last 5 years. i don't have to wait until he's shivering - if his ears or nose are cold i know he needs help :-)

anyway, that's mine, but yours may be different so not sure that helps.... good luck!

AKPonyGirl said...

Juanita said it right - More hay when it gets cold.

My horses get blanketed when we trailer to and from the arena and at home until they dry out completely. They all have access to shelter from the wind and the snow. But I have seen the mares stand out in the falling snow until they have an inch or so of the white stuff on their backs.

Funder said...

OMG. Tomorrow I'm going to take a hand picture of my yak's coat, so you will understand when I say "I never blanket at liberty." I do throw a cooler on her if she's sweaty and riding in a trailer, but I don't even leave it on til she dries out... she hates it and never NEVER EVER acts cold when I take it off. If it was 33 and pouring down rain I'd go check on her every 2 hours, but I wouldn't automatically blanket even then.

Nth-ing the more hay advice.

Funder said...

Hey Breathe, I posted hand pics.