‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice and mint everything. The leaves are beginning to fall and colder weather, and some snow is on its way. Saying goodbye to the summer heat can be a blessing, but welcoming the cold is often met with trepidation. Do you clip your horse for the winter or let them turn into a fluffy monster? Are you stuck up north or are you part of the volatile southern climates, where 30-degree temperature changes in a day are normal?
No matter where you’re located, winter can be a difficult time for providing the proper care for your horse, especially when it comes to blanketing. Ever wonder if Katy Perry’s Hot ‘N’ Cold song was about horse blankets rather than romance, because I certainly do.
Choosing the proper weight of a blanket for your horse can be challenging, as there’s many factors that come into play: such as clipped vs non-clipped, age, breed, inside a barn or outside, diet, etc. Every horse is unique, and ultimately it is up to you to learn and decide what works best for them.
First off, you want to make sure your blanket fits your horse correctly. To measure your horse, start at the center of their chest and go around the side of the body to where the tail begins. We recommend using a piece of rope or twine to make sure the measure contours around their body. Then use a tape measure to accurately record their size. If you’re still unsure, here’s a helpful video.
Now, onto the tricky part, understanding which temperature warrants which weight of blanket. There are many factors that play into which weight blanket you should put on your horse. Additionally, as the temperature changes throughout the day, you may be faced with the decision of either having to change blankets throughout the day, or having your horse be a touch warm or cold. As each horse handles temperatures differently, we recommend talking to your vet or barn manager about what to do if multiple blanket changes throughout the day aren’t possible during temperature swings. As a general rule of thumb, this chart represents how you would blanket a horse that comes in at night and is either clipped or non-clipped.
It’s important to remember that every horse is different, you may find that your horse is the exception to the rule, and needs more or less warmth based on their individual needs and circumstances. Feeling behind your horse’s ear can give you an idea on how your horse’s temperature is. If the area is cold and damp, you likely should be using a heavier blanket.
Unfortunately, keeping your horse warm during the cold is only half the battle, as temperatures often fluctuate and your horses’ needs can change throughout the day. Some companies, like Kensington Protective Products, anticipated this problem and created blankets meant to combat that difficulty. The blankets from Kensington Protective Products are made to be highly breathable while still being durable, with an insulated Hollow Fill that allows for a loftier fit and for the air to travel between the insulation easier, and a moisture wicking liner to pull any moisture away from the horse as soon as there is a build up.
What are your favorite tips for keeping your horse warm and comfortable in the winter?