Ask the Vet – Blanketing a horse in the winter

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SARAH: Generally, how do you blanket correctly
in the winter months and thinking about switching between light, medium, heavy weight. How do you make those choices? DR LYDIA GRAY: So, I’m going to rephrase the
question. SARAH: Ok. DR LYDIA GRAY: Because when I think about
blanketing, the first question that comes to my mind is “Do I even need to blanket?” And so the things I think about then are where
do you live, so geography matters. Is your horse clipped or does he have a full
coat? Is your horse healthy? Because if it’s like an older horse or a horse
whose body condition score is low or is thin or unhealthy for any reason, then maybe a
blanket’s a really good idea. Precipitation matters. If it’s raining or it’s windy. Does the horse have access to shelter. Once I have those questions resolved, then
I think about which blanket is right. And again, that depends on where you live. I know people that live in, I don’t know,
Texas, Florida, California, where I wouldn’t even dream of putting a blanket on my horse,
and once it’s below 70, they’ve got to, you know, put something on. And then people who live in Minnesota say,
“Well, if it doesn’t get below 0, I don’t even bother.” So, it kinda depends on what you and your
horse are acclimated to, and my rule of thumb is, and I think you know this, you blanket
versus the high temperature of the day, not the low, because horses are pretty good at
fending off cold weather as long as they’re not wet, but they have to sweat and they have
to dissipate heat and they can’t do that as well with clothes on. So I think of that. And I think that once you put a blanket on
for the season, you kinda gotta leave it on, because you’re laying that, you’re pressing
that hair down and that fluff that they naturally have can’t work for them. That said, you can’t just put a blanket on
and leave it on the whole winter. You gotta take it off and make sure the horse’s
body condition score is fine and his skin is not having rain rot or something. There’s lots of things to think about. It sounded like an easy question when we,
you know, it got voted on. Maybe that’s why it was the #1 question, but
there’s lots of factors and so I’m sorry I can’t give a simple this temperature and this
temperature and this temperature. It’s just not that simple, but hopefully that
was a little bit to think about and not overwhelming. SARAH: I think it’s great. I think it’s important for people to know
that there are a lot of factors that go into it. And if you guys at home want a little bit
of help with combining and evaluating those factors, you can always check out the SmartPak
Blanketing App. It’s a great one to kind of help you think
through those things. It asks you about body condition, it asks
you about the age of the horse, and that’s because you helped us make it. DR LYDIA GRAY: And you did, too! SARAH: I know. And that’s why we love it so much. But it works in all those factors and really
helps you understand what kind of decisions you could be making for your horse, and so
it helps you think through all those questions. DR LYDIA GRAY: Right.

 

6 Responses

  1. Lawrence Crecy

    September 27, 2016 5:54 pm

    Yea in Nor Cal you can just let your horses coat grow out during the end of summer into Fall & winter so you don't have to blanket them. If you're at a show barn go ahead and blanket because you're probably paying someone to take it off and put it back on, but if you're at a ranch like me; I let my TB and quarter horse just grow out and keep bathing to a minimum during winter while throwing a rain sheet on IF we get rain only because they like to stand in it..

    Reply

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