Does your horse need a winter blanket?
For the new horse owner, choosing a blanket can be confusing. Many types of blankets are available to horse owners, but some may not be needed in every situation. When deciding which horse blanket is right for your horse, consider your horses’ living situation and daily tasks.
If your horse is a backyard trail horse, with a shelter and gets a full coat during the winter, he/she might not need a blanket. Usually horses in these situations do fine with their own coat for protection against the elements, unless you live in a climate with extreme temperatures.
Winter blankets are the thickest, warmest horse blanket made and are comparable to a winter coat for a person. In extremely cold conditions, any horse may need a winter blanket, whether stalled in a barn or in the pasture with a shelter. The easiest way to tell if your horse needs a winter blanket is to observe him in cold temperatures. Is he shivering at all? If so, he needs a winter blanket immediately.
If you do blanket him, make sure to remove the blanket when the temperature warms up. It’s dangerous for your horse to be too cold, but being overly hot isn’t safe either. To check, periodically run your hand underneath your horse’s winter blanket. If your horse is sweating, it’s time for a lighter blanket or none at all.
If you own a show horse that’s body shaved regularly, different rules apply and you’ll need some type of blanket. Shaving a horse’s normal coat leaves him defenseless against many outside elements and the right blanket can help compensate for this.
A turnout blanket is necessary if you own a show horse that is regularly clipped. Use the same principle as with winter blankets – don’t leave a turnout blanket on your horse if he is sweating. Turnout blankets are lighter than winter blankets and can be used in winter months when your horse is in an unheated barn with other horses. The insulation of the barn as well as the horse’s body heat with a turnout blanket, will keep them warm enough even when it’s below zero outside.
When deciding if your horse needs a blanket consider where he lives, the type of climate and his daily job. Some horses may not need a blanket, while others may need three or four different kinds. The best rule of thumb is that your horse should never be overly cold or overly hot. Keep these factors in mind to help you choose the right type of blanket for your horse.