horse with blanket

Keeping Horses Warm in the Winter

By Gillian Warner, National Youth Board Member

Winter weather is just around the corner! Mornings are getting chilly, and I might have seen a few snow flurries the other week as the temperature nosedived. Personally, I’m not the best at handling the cold. So naturally, as I add so many layers to the point I can hardly move my arms, I have to fight the urge to bundle my horses up in the same way.

As winter approaches, I’ve been talking with friends, boarders, and clients about how to keep horses comfortable and happy, even in the cold. Of course, each horse is different, and has different needs. What does that mean for blanketing? What if you clip your horse?

Generally speaking, horses grow a thick coat to keep them protected from the elements. If you can pair a thick (unclipped) coat with a shelter from the wind and moisture (rain and snow), along with ample hay/forage to help the horses generate body heat, horses do quite well without a blanket. However, if some of those factors aren’t met, such as having a thin or clipped coat or limited shelter, a blanket can be useful extra protection.

Some factors I consider when matching each horse with an appropriate blanket include their age, as younger and older horses can have a harder time regulating temperature. In addition, consider body condition, as thinner horses struggle to stay warmer on their own. And finally, their workload may affect there their potential for a clip. Remember that clipped horses have less protection, especially for extreme weather events, such as intense cold, or wet and/or windy conditions.

When considering what is most appropriate for your horse, consider his overall needs and atmosphere. Consider the weather, the access the horse has to shelter and hay, and the type of coat he grows or has for the winter months. Remember, each horse is different!

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