Should I Blanket My Horse?

I have a 4-year-old filly that I am preparing for winter. When is it appropriate to blanket her?
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Should I Blanket My Horse?
For those horses living in extremely cold situations, a blanket can provide the added warmth needed–especially when protective shelter is not available in a turnout pasture or paddock. | Photo: iStock
Q: I have a 4-year-old Thoroughbred filly that I am preparing for winter. When is it appropriate to blanket her, and when would she be better off without a blanket?

A: To blanket or not to blanket is a good question. Blanketing a horse has both positive and negative considerations. One of the positive aspects to blanketing a horse is to keep a short-haired show coat, thus decreasing your body clipping time if you are showing your horse during the colder months. Blankets also are used in muddy and rainy weather to keep your outside horse clean and dry, ready for you to ride. For those horses living in extremely cold situations, a blanket can provide the added warmth needed–especially when protective shelter is not available in a turnout pasture or paddock. Additionally, when a horse is moved from a warm climate to a much cooler climate, a blanket can help the horse become acclimated to his or her new environment.

The down side of blanketing your horse is that it might get its legs caught in the blanket straps or its hair could be rubbed off if the blanket is not properly fitted. Those horses not living in extremely cold environments (below 20°F) will do well without a blanket, provided they are either stalled during the coldest temperatures or have access to a protective lean-to shelter or natural shield such as a solid row of pine trees.

There are many different blankets from which to choose. There are five basic types: cooler/anti-sweat, fly sheet, dress sheet, non-weatherproof blanket, and weatherproof blanket

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Written by:

Erin Denney-Jones, DVM, is an FEI veterinarian and owner of Florida Equine Veterinary Services, in Clermont, Florida. Her interests and practice areas include chiropractic care, sport horse medicine, reproduction, general medicine and surgery, and preventive care including wellness programs, vaccinations, parasite control, and dentistry.

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