when should I use a horse blanket?

This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  J. Corwin 2 years, 2 months ago.

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  • Jayla Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 0

    My parents have a horse in their paster that a friend of family left in their pasture over a year ago & had yet to come back for the horse. My parents have taken him in & feed him & care for him now. There isn’t a barn on the property. He is a sweet loving horse that we can pet & feed. We don’t know if he is broken to ride or not. We only pet him & love him to pieces. They live outside Searcy, Ar. We were wondering if he needs a blanket for the winter since there is no barn? He has gained weight since they have had him but is just eating grass & we buy the 100 lbs horse feed & feed him that 2 x’s a day. There is a pond there plus we hav a trough for water. Do we need to buy him a blanket for the winter & if so what type? We are new to owning a horse. There is 39 acres & plenty of trees just no barn for cold nights! Thank you:)

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    If he has a good heavy coat of his own, he probably doesn’t often need a blanket. If the weather is seriously foul, he should have one that is waterproof and breathable. There are many options. The best thing you could do is to build a run in shed so he can get out of the wet and wind. If your dad can do it himself, it isn’t really expensive. Generally, horses do better when they can live as natural a life as possible.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    It really depends on the weather. I am not familiar enough with typical Arizona weather to know if it gets cold enough to need a turnout blanket or not. I know that Arizona is in a desert area, but nights can still get cold, but rain is usually not an issue. A run-in shed is always a good addition, but building one in mid winter is not always feasible. Horses can manage without a run in with a good T/O blanket.

    Here is a crash course in critical blanketing info.

    1) There are 2 sizing systems – the older American 2″ increment sizes system and the newer European 3″ increment sizes. The problem is that each measures the horse differently. The traditional 2″ system measures the horse from the center of the chest to to butt crack. The newer European system measures from the center of the chest to the outside edge of one back leg, with the horse standing square. My recommendation would be to measure the horse both ways, then pay close attention to whether the T/O you are considering comes in 2″ or 3″ increment sizes. If you measure both ways and write both measurements down, you will be set to order the correct size in either system.

    You also need to be aware that there are 3 sizes that appear in both systems: 72″, 78″, 84″. However, because the 2 systems measure the horse differently, these 3 sizes will often not fit the same. So if ordering or buying one of these blankets, make sure you use the correct measuring system.

    2) There are 4 different T/O types available: The actual amount of fiberfill varies by manufacturer, so I have given a typical average.

    -T/O Sheets – no fiberfill, but will provide rain and wind protection, and the horse will likely not get overheated if an unexpected warm spell happens. They should, however, have either a standard lining or a “fishnet” type lining, so the underside of the nylon layer does not lay directly on the horse’s back.

    -Light Weight T/O Blanket – somewhere around 100 g of fiberfill, so warmer
    than a T/O sheet, but not a lot warmer.

    -Medium Weight T/O Blanket – somewhere around 200 g of fiberfill, and probably the most useful version for most people & horses. If it turns bitterly cold, one can always add a blanket liner for additional warmth.

    -Heavy Weight T/O Blanket – somewhere around 300 g of fiberfill, a good choice for very very cold winters, but this weight is too warm for many horses in the fall and spring, so many horse owners will have a medium weight for fall & spring and a heavy weight for the depths of winter. This does mean 2 blankets to wash & repair every year.

    3) D-Ratings of blanket material
    Typical D-Ratings are 600D, 1200D, 1680D. The 600D blankets will be the least expensive, with the 1200D blankets being sturdier, a bit more expensive, and the best choice for many horses, while the 1680D blankets are even sturdier and a bit more expensive than the 1200D’s, but can be the best choice for horses in a herd who get bored in winter & play “Blanket Pull”. I repair horse blankets & my experience is that if you have one horse or one horse and minis & ponies, you can get away with a 600D. Otherwise, don’t buy anything less than 1200D. And if you have a really rowdy group, go with the 1680D’s. The price difference between 1200D & 1680D is usually less than the cost of repairs to a 1200D vrs cost of repairs to 1680, if you have a group that really gets into their games of “blanket pull” in the winter. The 1000D’s just do not hold up as well as one would expect, compared to a 1200D.

    4) Budget for blanket repairs. Even the best horse living alone will tend to tear his/her blanket, even the 1680’s. Horses like the warmth, but have no concept of taking care of the blanket.

    5) Leg straps – elastic vrs. webbing. Both work, there is more “give” with the elastic leg straps, but the webbing ones hold up longer, as the elastic ones tend to stretch out, losing the “give” factor, and sometimes ending up too long for safety. Look for a T/O that has 4 D-Rings for leg strap attachment, and leg straps that have snaps at all 4 ends. Even the best snaps can get dirt, mud & ice in the snap part. With 2 snaps per leg strap, you will usually have one that works, so you can get the blanket off, then work on getting the jammed snap open with pliers, WD-40, and some time, with the T/O off the horse. Some T/O manufacturers save a few pennies by stitching one end of each leg strap to the underside of the blanket. Other use a loop in the webbing or elastic leg strap instead of a snap for one end. In both cases there will be only 1 snap per leg strap, so if that one snap jams, the leg strap will have to be cut to get the T/O off. The cost difference between 4 leg strap D-Rings and 4 snaps, and either of the the short cuts above is minimal. But manufacturers will continue to make blankets this way until enough horse owners stop buying blankets that don’t have 4 leg strap D-Rings and 4 snaps. I will now climb down from my hobby horse.

    6) Most T/O’s (and nowadays, most stall blankets) come with leg straps. However, if you decide to go with the Rambo, Rhino & Amigo blankets from Horsewear Ireland, these do not come with D-Rings or Leg Straps. They do come with a butt strap. Gorgeous blankets, and worth the $300 price, but I disagree with their idea that their blankets fit so well they do not need leg straps, and only a butt strap is needed. Leg straps can also prevent the horse from rolling out of hisher blanket, which a butt strap will not do. Leg straps & Leg Strap Attachment D-Rings can be added by most blanket repair places.

    There are also T/O’s that come with 2″ wide leg straps. I suggest you stay away from these T/O’s, stall blankets, sheets, etc. There are at least 5 design flaws with this type of leg straps, and they inevitably will tear out, since they are usually stitched to a back corner, often tearing out a good chunk of blanket with the leg strap. There is simply no way to attach these leg straps so they will not tear out or off.

    7) Many T/O’s come with 3 or 4 neck cover attachment D-Rings, so you can add a neck cover. Some T/O’s come with an attached neck cover, that is not removable, so this type of T/O is probably not a good choice for an
    only T/O as it may be too warm

    8) Surcingle Issues
    Most T/O’s come with 2 sets of “low crossed surcingles”, although some do use a single “California style” wrap-around surcingle. Either can work, but if you have a choice, look for low crossed surcingles that have a small piece of 2″ webbing sewn on the underside at the bottom of each of the 4 surcingles. The horses movement tends to cause the heavy thread used to attach the surcingles to the blanket to literally saw through first the lining material, then the top nylon layer. T/O’s that have this little piece of nylon webbing will last years longer without the surcingles slicing the material at the bottom line of stitching. SmartPak blankets and Horsewear Ireland blankets typically come with this valuable type of reinforcing.

    If you find a T/O with a single “California style” single surcingle, which is attached to the bottom edge of the blanket on each side. This type of surcingles are usually reinforced on both the top side & underside, but the material is often vinyl, which is a bad choice, as vinyl is very sensitive to UV rays, which make the vinyl brittle, and liable to serious crack. Nylon webbing is not sensitive to UV rays, but vinyl is less expensive for the blanket manufacturer, as the reinforcements can be punch-cut, while webbing typically only comes in widths up to 4″, and needs to be heat-cut, as the heat-cutting blade seals the edges so they don’t ravel as it cuts.

    7) Each manufacturer has a different set of patterns, so the blankets will fit differently, even though the same size. For example, Dover sells a line of gorgeous 1680D North Wind T/Os. Well made, well designed, but the entire line runs small through the chest. Great if you have a horse with a smaller chest, such as a narrower TB or an Arabian, but they don’t list that fact in the paper or on-line catalogs.

    6) If the horse has never been blanketed before, be prepared for him to have an initial negative reaction. Horses have survived as a species for thousands of years by reacting first and thinking later to “a predator” on his/her back. Try laying some old towels on the horse back first, and always have 2 people – – one to hold the lead line and one (the more agile person) to put the towel or blanket on. Let the horse smell the blanket, and if possible distract him/her with treats while the towels or blanket are being put on.

    If I missed anything, ask & I will try to answer.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    My short answer is probably not.

    Long answer: In addition to keeping a horse warm, a blanket will also hinder winter coat growth. Most horses who have blankets during the winter are either rodeo horses or very old. Rodeo horses get blankets to keep the winter coat to a minimum so that they are easier to brush and saddle and so that they cool down better after a run. Horses are naturally equipped to handle the cold weather. Non-rodeo young horses who are blanketed are often owned by people who don’t understand these things or do so for looks. (Let’s face it, they are prettier when they aren’t so hairy.)

    I’m in NE Oklahoma. A few years ago we had some seriously low temperatures (it barely got over 0 during the day) and I blanketed then, in addition to bringing my horses in. Otherwise, they can handle the weather. I also ride all year and try to keep up training, but I don’t rodeo consistently, so I want a good winter coat on my horses.

    If this horse is elderly and is outside shivering, then he’s either too old to handle the weather or has been blanketed a lot in the past and has stopped growing a good winter coat. If he doesn’t have a good coat, he may also just need wormed, or he may be needing something in his diet. Either way, then if blanket, also.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Jayla, I have a 25 year old quarter horse and a 9 year old quarter horse. I blanket my older horse. It is a lot of work but I do it because he LOVES his blanket. If you start with a blanket you will need to ALWAYS have it on him if it is very cold because he won’t grow a winter coat where the blanket touches him. You also have to adjust it daily because it will rub the hair off. If you let it go very long it will cause sores. Also you will need a back up blanket in case it gets wet. A wet blanket is worse than no blanket at all. I live in Ward, AR so we share the same weather. A horse needs hay in the winter. They must ALWAYS have forage. (Hay or Grass) The hay takes longer to work through their system. It ferments and creates heat. I have seen my neighbors old horse shaking all over with ice all over her back. I give her hay and within 20 minutes she stops shaking and the ice melts. They don’t need grain but I feed it because I add supplements to it. Also, my horses are very easy to catch because they come up for feed twice a day. It also gives me the opportunity to give them a good once over daily in case one of them is lame or has a sore or something that I need to attend to. I have a run in shed so my horses can get out of the wind and rain. If you take good care of your horses you won’t have to call the vet for expensive emergency farm calls!!

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Not all horses ever grow a sufficiently heavy winter coat – my two Arabians just get light sweaters. Hunters and show horses are also often blanketed and/or clipped.

    It is never the horse's fault

    J. Corwin
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    Hi, If the horse is in good physical health, wormed, gets enough to eat of hay or good pasture when it is cold, and is a normal weight, then let him grow a good winter hair coat and don’t blanket. I live in Montana and my horses are outside with free choice to go in a run in shed. They only use it (sometimes) when it is raining really hard or the wind is blowing hard in the winter or for shade in the summer. I am amazed at how often they don’t go in and just prefer to stand or graze. We get serious cold weather off and on during the winter. When I boarded my horses at a facility that had run in sheds and pens, the only horse shivering on the place was the one with the blanket. The others had grown hair coats and were toasty warm. Even the horse in the one pen without the run in shed did okay. Mother nature takes care of them. The blanketed horse didn’t grow a hair coat and the blanket flattened the hair he had, and it really wasn’t a winter blanket to begin with. And when it slipped off he was really in trouble. You have to constantly check to make sure a blanketed horse has it on, not tangled in it and if the weather warms, you want to take it off otherwise he will sweat under it and then get cold. So…. a wind break helps but letting a horse grow hair and most importantly having enough hay (not grain) to eat because digestion of hay (not grain) and a good hair coat will keep the horse warm. Horses can get chilled if they get wet and the wind blows because of wind chill. If you don’t have a wind break, then occasionally blanketing in especially bad weather may be an option but let him grow hair.

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    Horses ridden English probably tend to be blanketed more often than horses ridden Western, partially because horses ridden in English disciplines are more likely to be boarded where there is access to an indoor arena in winter, so they can continue to be ridden and schooled regularly. This is particularly true of dressage horses. It is easier to keep a horse fit during the winter than to get him fit again after a winter off. How much winter coat a horse gets can also depend on when the horse is blanketed. If he is blanketed early (for example in mid-Sept), he will not get as heavy a winter coat as a horse blanketed in late Nov. or early Dec. But the heavier the coat, the more the horse will get sweated up if schooled hard in the winter, so a lot of horses who compete in English disciplines will be clipped in winter to remove the heavy coat so it does not take an hour of walking the horse out when the schooling is done to dry all that winter coat. But once clipped, the horse has to be blanketed to stay warm. There are a lot of reasons to blanket or not blanket a horse, just as there are multiple weights of blankets from T/O sheets (no fiberfill) to light weight T/O’s (a meager amount of fiberfill) to medium weight (a medium amount of fiberfill, & probably the most useful weight) to heavy weight (designed for horses in very cold climates, especially those in cold climates that live out 24/7.

    Whether a horse needs to be blanketed or not depends on a multitude of factors that need to be taken into consideration. And yes, there is a possibility of over blanketing a horse so he gets too warm and his body starts sweating to cool him down, if the weather suddenly and unexpectedly warms up.

    J. Corwin
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    The original question was should this person blanket that particular horse that is on pasture and is a pasture pet, not ridden and just being petted and loved on. It is not being ridden so no need to worry about keeping it with a short hair coat to help dry it out, and no need to exercise it in the winter to keep it in condition. It is just on pasture. So for THAT particular horse I stick by my answer. Let it grow a big hair coat and feed it enough hay. Yes, for any other horse with multitudes of different circumstances, the answer can vary and be complicated. But for this original question, it is not as complicated.

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