In the 15 years or so that I’ve kept my horses at a co-op barn, many of my opinions have changed. When I first arrived, fresh from years of boarding, I tucked my horse into his stall every night swathed in the appropriate blanket for the weather.
Now, I’m a firm believe in 24/7 turn out and have relaxed quite a bit on the blanketing front. Mostly, it’s because the horses have consistently told me that they are not cold. In fact, they like the cold weather much better than they like the heat (when they stand inside the barn trying to stay cool).
Dr. David Ramey posted an article today, Blanketing and other Colorful Considerations, which talks about the fact that horses have enough mass to stay warm, which is augmented by the heat generated by their digestive system. Under most circumstances, he believes that horses don’t need blanketing to stay warm.
Since I trace clip my horses, I generally do blanket. But unless the temps are down near zero or it’s very wet, I’ve found that mid-weight blankets are just fine; I throw them some extra hay and leave them out. Inevitably, they stay outside, eschewing the warmth of the barn. The horses don’t overheat and they don’t shiver. I have had a few horses that shivered in the cold (my mare, Dezzi, was one) and I’ve known some hard keepers who kept weight on better when they didn’t get cold.
It’s actually very nice to stop worrying about one aspect of horse care since horses are always doing something to keep us on our toes! (Freedom’s heel bulb is healing nicely after I had it cleaned out by the vet and started him on antibiotics.
What about you? Do you blanket your horses? Or leave them au natural?