To blanket or not to blanket?

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Little Wolf Ranch

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Thanks everyone for the replies
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He does get all the hay he wants, I let him have free choice hay 24/7. If I don't, he seems to drop some weight so the vet suggested letting him eat as much as he wants on top of his grain. When I put him in his stall I put more hay in there than I know he will eat, and so far I haven't come seen him eat it all.
 

paintponylvr

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Katie - sounds like you are working with your vet pretty closely. keep up on his teeth, so that you know that he can chew comfortably. If he still has a problem at all, you can add any of the many cubed or pelleted forage additions which can then be made into a soft mush or even soup. Just feeding a regular feed on the coldest nights and mornings can make a huge difference - fed wet & WARM/HOT. No different then you wrapping around a hot bowl of soup/chili, hot cocoa/cider/coffee/tea, oatmeal or grits on those frosty/wet/miserable mornings and nights.

Something to consider for warmth/support would be leg wraps - either the type you layer on with quilts and wraps (there is a difference to a "stable/standing wrap" and a "working wrap") or just the fuzzy "shipping boots". I had one mare that really appreciated having her legs in her "fuzzy slippers" on the coldest nights and she wouldn't stock up and could still move in the morning. As long as it wasn't raining or snowing, she would also wear them outside in the pasture on cold/windy days - she didn't open the closures, nor kick/stomp them off. You could tell the difference if weather changed and she wasn't wearing them!

and for those of us who have worked in the english horse industry - have you ever used a tool/grooming technique that utilized making a straw or hay "thing"? I can't for the life of me remember what it was called... BUT you make a rope by twisting the hay/straw together, then wind it into a rug/placemat type of "thing". Then, to use it for grooming, you use it like a curry comb in a circular motion to start - lofting the coat. Then you raise your hand/the "thingey" and "lightly & rhythmically strike" the horse with it. It takes some getting used to - for both the human and the horse. This light "striking" and round currying motion causes the haircoat to loft and the blood flow to the skin to increase - creating warmth, too. It's used on the large muscle groups ie: over the neck shoulders and rump. It could be used after work/riding to help with sore muscles, too. Because it also draws natural oils out of the skin into the coat - it developed a beautiful shine, too.
I have used it to help warm/clean up a wet, muddy pony - even in conjunction with blanketing (getting them dry/warm before blanketing). I haven't used this technique on any of our current equine - they'd probably all freak out if I did and I would die of over work myself - but it DID WORK! You do a couple full size horses & you'll build strength/muscle in your arms/chest/upper back w/o ever stepping foot into a gym!! I'm not sure what to Google right now to find this grooming technique and can't remember what level it might have been detailed in in Pony Club. Maybe the folk overseas would know what it's called - pretty sure it might still be used on horses there?

Also, understand on the blanketing issue - you can/maybe should get a layered blanket system. The most used here in NC would probably be a light to medium weight turnout that is water proof. In rain, you would still want to make sure that it's not allowing the horse's neck to get wet and that it's not leaking over the back/loins/rump - you can get different types of water proofing "stuff" to redo your blankets. They usually have to be re-done anytime you wash them. You could layer it lighter/heavier liners (they have both slick and fleece) or actual blankets with fiberfill. When I worked for a boarding barn, we had 12 that were blanketed for different reasons. Several were due to age/lack of coat - all were "work" to keep up with based on weather. BUT they were comfortable, LOL. Each owner provided 2-4 blankets that could be interchanged/layered. And in the worst weather, the stalled horses weren't turned out OR they might get turned out 1/2 way thru the day. More than once, when horses were left out at night and the weather changed I was out between midnight and 3 am, pulling wet and/or blanketed horses back in. Thru-out the day, I would check blanketed horses - horses who were wet under blankets either due to sweat (too hot) or due to not having enough protection from driving rain - got blankies changed out. Owners were kept informed if they weren't coming to the barn regularly. We didn't provide cleaning or repair services, so owners had to take care of that. Really soiled blankets lose their ability to work well, too. Some horses naturally seem to get theirs more dirty than others - even in the same pastures. It is amazing!

AngC - if the horses are "crapping" on their blankets - their owners aren't caring for them. The blankets are either too big or too small (gaining/losing weight can change the size of blankets). These days, most are made so that the tail is either not covered at all or have a proper tail gusset that allows the tail to lift and won't soil the blankets or the straps utilized to keep them in place. That said, there are also horses out there that can still soil them and seems some just delight in doing so! But if the blanket is heavily soiled - again - the owners aren't checking them enough.

I hate driving down the road and seeing horses blanketed when the temps have shot up over 60* f. Most don't need to be blanketed and will sweat (a lot) at those temps when they are. If the blankets are left on, then wet, the horse's health can be compromised. Again it's usually because an owner has left for work/school and didn't remove the blanket(s) before leaving (or an employee is working on a different section of the farm OR "slacking"). I've often switched out with some friends - when I was working later I would swing by their place(s) and remove blankets/check horses and when I've had to work - I've had others do the same for me. One of the reasons I do hate blanketing these days is because the weather has been so "wild" and it's "work" to keep up with it - in both directions.
 

amysue

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In my opinion, the "common sense" approach is sometimes not so common. Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation and bad science, combined with lack or knowledge or what my husband calls "bleeding hearts" leads to a lot of horse care mistakes with blanketing. I have seen it all while running a stable...horses improperly blanketed, over dressed and sweaty, under dressed and freezing, raw from ill fitting rugs, injured by loose straps or unsecured rugs and everything in between. Part of it is a personal preference and I never liked blanket statements like "never blanket, they're bad" or "every horse needs blanketed its cruel not to" Because they indicate that there is a black and white solution and personally, I find that to be ignorant. A healthy horse with a wind block and overhead shelter should be fine without a rug. An old or sick horse may need a rug but they may not. Lots of old horses are still healthy. Also remember that a horse burns calories to stay warm, so instead of blanketing, you could re evaluate your winter feed program and beef up your field shelter and provide a wind block. If your horse is battling illness, recovering or has maybe moved from a warm climate or has been clipped, then common sense dictates that blanketing is necessary. I get real angry when someone leaves an old, sore improperly prepared for winter horse out and they get skinny because they are cold/shivering because someone told the owner NEVER BLANKET! I had a neighbor do this and animal control had to intervene for the horse's wellbeing. On the other end of the spectrum, I get REAL angry when the lady up the street from me complains that my minis are out in the cold without blankets. Sbe thinks I am cruel to leave them out in the cold. She is ignorant because she cannot comprehend that they are animals, they grow a long coat for protection and have a shelter. If they don't want to use it then they are not bothered by the cold. My old mare wears a sheet in the fall and a rug in winter and is stabled when raining as she shivers when its real cold and obviously requires extra attention, but that doesn't mean that all 32 of mine do. Do what you think is best for your horses and you. Just keep in mind that they're horses, not people, they are better equipped to live outside than we are. Blanketing when not necessary just means more work for you.
 
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AnnaC

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Paula, it's called a Whisp. I'm sure there will be somwhere on the internet telling how to make one as it is rather difficult to explain (pictures are easier). Used on the muscular areas of a horse it is great for promoting circulaton etc.

I would certainly blanket an elderly horse that had problems growing a winter coat - blankets of differing weights for different temperatures plus extras for layering if necesary. We wear clothes but add layers if we go out into the cold, but if we lived in an unheated house (sheltered and out of the wind as per a stall/stable) i'm sure we would also add layers to keep warm. An outside stall/barn may help to keep the rain off an animal plus the wind to an extend, but the inside air temperature would not be that different to that outside therefore under Katie's circumstances I would be blanketing.
 

SampleMM

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I would not blanket. Not only is it a PIA but their natural hair coats are far superior to any blanket that you can buy.
 

amysue

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Thank you miniv. It got to 65º today outside, its been around 30º at night and low 40's during the day for the past week now. My clipped horses got their clothes put on, so naturally a few boarders followed suit. Lucky me gets to undress and re dress their poor horses that they were too lazy to tend to today. I do not want to see them sweat and chill. When I renew my boarding contracts this January, im re evaluating my policy on blanketing and am thinking of charging for blanket changes. The horses that do not need them seem miserable with them on. The extra work of blanketing is a pain in the neck.
 

Kendra

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Saw this on facebook, made me think of this topic. ;) As you can see, it's a straightforward issue.

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AngC

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I've been reading this topic with interest.

Some of what I read doesn't make sense to me.

I must be one of those so-called "natural" horse people. The only benefit I can identify, so far, is that if I were to blanket, ours might grow shorter coats which would save this here human some trouble when all that hair starts shedding in the spring. Our NIcky is an older gentleman, but all I have to do is walk out and stick my hand under his long, non-clipped, mane to feel that his body temperature appears to be ok.

Perhaps, I'm mistaken, because I also let them get awfully dirty this past summer because I noticed that (despite my best bathing/cleaning efforts) they'd all head off for a good rolly-roll which appeared to help with the bugs/skeeters.
 

Kendra

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I've been reading this topic with interest.

Some of what I read doesn't make sense to me.

I must be one of those so-called "natural" horse people. The only benefit I can identify, so far, is that if I were to blanket, ours might grow shorter coats which would save this here human some trouble when all that hair starts shedding in the spring. Our NIcky is an older gentleman, but all I have to do is walk out and stick my hand under his long, non-clipped, mane to feel that his body temperature appears to be ok.
It boils down to this: most horses don't need to be blanketed. Some do, because they're thin, or old, or sick, or have a compromised winter coat, or just plain don't do well in the cold. Sounds like you are lucky to have horses without any of those concerns, in which case, you're right. They don't need blanketing.
 

Jill

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I would not blanket, and if possible, let them choose to be in or out. If you start blanketing in cold weather, the loft if their coat gets lost and you get stuck having to keep doing it. In SC, unless you're dealing with a sick or clipped horse, I don't think it is wise to blanket.
 

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