To Blanket The Horse Or Not?

You would be quite shocked at how opinionated people are when it comes to the question of whether one should blanket their horse or not! While some scoff at the very idea of clothing an animal, others are occasionally clothing them when need arises, while others are bundling up their equine from fall to spring like a worried parent sending a child out in the storm. Some caretakers say that the horse needs the extra warmth while others say that the horse should be left as nature intended. In my research I even found one who says that blanketing causes muscle tension in the neck area, giving the horse physical problems in the long run.

Maybe we should start by saying that a horse has the natural ability to withstand the changing weather conditions but there are situations when placing a blanket or sheet on your horse is of great advantage.
It is very human to want to keep the horse warm so we can feel better about ourselves; we are just comparing our situations and somewhat feeling sorry for our equine friend when its chilly outside.
So must I blanket my horse? The answer to that is a simple no. There are conditions that would prompt you to blanket him, but it is not an absolute must. The question we are going to address is should you blanket your horse? Are horse sheets and blankets helpful? If so, how can you properly care for them?

Remember, hair is a natural insulator and it fluffs to make the horse warm in cool temperatures. The heat that is generated by the animal does not escape since its trapped between the hairs and insulates him against the cold.

When should I blanket my horse?
When in very chilly conditions especially without shelter, a blanketed horse will most certainly benefit from the extra warmth from the blanket.
Also, when you have moved a horse from a warm to a colder area, a blanket or sheet will help the horse as he adjusts to the new environment. A horse that was transported earlier may just have enough time to grow a thick coat, but covering him up for the first winter will still do no harm.
Competition horses are usually clipped even in the cool winters to maintain a sleek appearance, control sweating and enable them to cool off faster after intense workouts, therefore the need for blanketing. When the conditions are not so cold they may need a light sheet to help insulate the heat from their bodies.
An aged horse may not have the right amount of appetite or digestion to generate enough heat in winter, thus it may require a bit of assistance. Placing a warm blanket around the horse will help him survive harsh weather conditions.

Your horse's nutrition is also a key factor in the way the equine is able to cope in the cold weather. Ensure that the horse has enough forage in the form of hay so they can have adequate calories to generate heat. The digestion process together with the coat insulation are enough to keep the animal comfortable in a cold environment, but of course in a sheltered place.

If you do choose to use a sheet or blanket on the animal, proper blanket care is required to ensure that both you and the horse are safe.
- Choose one that dries quickly or have an extra one for back up.
- When cleaning your horse blankets or sheets, ensure that the fasteners are in place to avoid slip ups that may lead to injury.
- Groom your horse regularly and allow him to stay unblanketed for a while.
- Use the appropriate blanket for the right weather. When in warm areas, use a light blanket or sheet and do the opposite in colder regions.
- Ensure that the horse is clean and dry before blanketing.
- Be wise when choosing horse sheets and blankets. For instance, breathable and waterproof blankets are great for avoiding saturation that makes the horse cold.

Blanketing remains a personal decision. A blanketed horse has the advantage of added warmth but its ability to naturally grow fur for the colder winter months will be hindered. Also, you might want to keep in mind that buying these horse accessories is not about their beauty or high pricing, it's about the quality that keeps the horse comfortable.

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