With changes in the weather comes the inevitable question of when you need to put a blanket on your horse. Not only that, you have to figure out what type of blanket to use: stable or turnout, sheet or blanket. The question can feel even more confusing once you factor in whether or not you should clip a horse. Thankfully, experts have weighed in on the what and when’s of blanketing.
Anne Marie Duarte, groom for Selena O’Hanlon, manages blanketing for Ontario summers and Florida winters. “I’m always being accused of over-blanketing and keeping my horses a little too warm,” Anne Marie explained. But no matter where she is, what type of blanket she uses depends on the weather, temperature, and how bad bugs are. “In Florida,” Anne Marie continued, “the good thing and the bad thing is you can go through a ridiculous range of temperatures, from the time you get up to the time you go to bed.” Anne Marie has used the full range of blankets in one day because of how cold it gets at night and how warm it gets during the day.
Understanding the climate you live in can also help in determining when to blanket and what to use. In Florida during the rainy season, Anne Marie always uses a rain sheet during turn out. If the horses get wet, this can lead to fungus growth on their skin. But this is only if the rain is warm enough. If it’s a cold rain, the storm is bad enough, and especially if there’s no shelter where her horses turn out, Anne Marie keeps her horses inside.
So what’s the difference between the different weights of blankets, and how do you know when to use them? Like Anne Marie, you need to be aware of the temperatures and take into consideration whether your horse is clipped. In the extreme cold, or in blizzard conditions, a heavy blanket is probably your best choice — especially if your horse is fully clipped. Kensington’s Signature SuperMesh Heavy Weight Turnout has a waterproof, breathable layer as well as liner to help keep your horse dry under his blanket.
But this depends on your horse. Make sure you’re checking on them. If they’re still sweating in their heavy blanket, going down to a mid-weight, or medium weight blanket will be a better choice.
Medium weight blankets will be waterproof and some, like Kensington’s All Around Medium Weight Turnout, will have liners that “pulls moisture away from your horse to keep them dry under the blankets.” Medium weight blankets are advised for most horses, once the temperature really starts to cool down. For freshly clipped horses, grabbing a medium weight blanket is a good idea for turnout because they won’t be used to the cold. You can adjust blanket weight as necessary: heavier if they’re cold, lighter if they’re sweating.
When it comes to blanketing your horse, there are no hard and fast rules other than making sure you’re doing what’s best for your horse. Have different weights on hand, or see if you can borrow a friend’s so you can find out exactly what your horse needs to make it through winter by being warm enough, but not too warm.