Hi There,

This is a follow up to my blanketing email from last November.
Just to quickly review the “Take home message” from the November email;

Here is the “take home”.

  1. Horses are not cold because you are cold.
  2. Horses may not be cold when you think they should be cold.
  3. Blanketing interferes with the horse’s ability to regulate its own temperature.
  4. In my opinion, horses should not be blanketed unless:
    • They are clipped in the winter
    • Any age if they are in very poor condition (condition score 3 or below)
    • They are old and skinny
  5. If you do blanket them, be sure to take the blanket off during the day, if it warms up. The blanket flattens the horse’s hair eliminating it’s “down coat”. If it’s warm, the horse will sweat trying to get rid of heat and when it gets cold the horse will be sweaty and will be cold instead of warm, so the blanket is doing the opposite of what you want it to do.

If you do blanket them, be sure to take the blanket off during the day, if it warms up. The blanket flattens the horse’s hair eliminating it’s “down coat”. If it’s warm, the horse will sweat trying to get rid of heat and when it gets cold the horse will be sweaty and will be cold instead of warm, so the blanket is doing the opposite of what you want it to do.

There are a zillion different opinions on blanketing and you can find most of them on the internet. My opinions and observations come from the perspective that we do the most good for our horses and our wallets by basing their care on how they evolved and how their bodies work to process food, produce energy and to develop a respectful relationship that allows both of us to have a good time.

Having said all that, here is a real-life situation at our ranch. The end of December was cold here, not crazy cold, but real cold. December 31 st during the day, the wind chill was -16. I have a boarded horse, a retired barrel horse named Bandit who is in her late-twenties. She has always been a good keeper and is a dominant mare. In the Fall she began to lose weight and got really skinny, way skinnier than I am comfortable with. I brought her in from the pasture, put her in a pen with a stall and started to feed her “Jim’s old horse mixture”, in the morning she got 2 oz of Forco, a pound of extruded soy bean meal, eight pounds of alfalfa pellets and four pounds of beet pulp. In the evening she got 2 oz of Forco, 3 oz. of Cal’s minerals a pound of extruded soy bean meal, eight pounds of alfalfa pellets and four pounds of beet pulp.

By the way, the beet pulp is fed dry. All the business about having to soak it is BS. She also had free choice alfalfa in front of her all the time. In addition I wormed her and got her teeth floated. Well, she started to gain weight and began to look a whole lot better, up to about a condition score 4. I was still worried about her and was going to blanket her New Years Eve. I usually feed in the evening around eight or nine, and when I went out, she was standing in her stall covered with snow. That told me her coat was doing exactly what it was supposed to do. If I had blanketed her I would have had to scrape the snow off and put the blanket on, which could have made her colder, not warmer. I left the blanket off and she did just fine!

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