While some horse owners choose to blanket their horses all year long, there are also those who never blanket their horses. With cold winter months approaching, riders tend to spend less time in the fields and horses become less active and spend more time in the stalls. So, the question stands: should you blanket your horse or not?
The Horse posted statistics on a poll that they conducted to show how many horse owners blanket their horses versus how many would not, and the results were split fairly evenly in three different categories. While 28% of horse owners would not be blanketing their horses at all, 42% planned on blanketing their horses only during extreme weather, and 30% of horse owners planned to blanket their horses throughout the winter.
Pros and Cons of Blanketing
Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of blanketing. On the cons side, if you do choose to blanket your horse, you will have to consider the time and inconvenience of caring for the particular blanket that you purchase. You will most likely need to remove any straps, belly bands, and Velcro and then wash the turnout blanket. Then, you will have to line-dry the blanket, while some can be dried at a low tumble in the dryer. There are certainly low-maintenance blankets that are available on the market, but these care instructions are similar for most turnout blankets and required for the longevity of the product.
Some horses absolutely do not like to be blanketed, which will pose another con for you. You may need to work with these anti-blanket horses to ensure that they will stay warm and remain comfortable with the turnout blanket at the same time. This may require you to spend time out in the cold, getting your horse used to wearing the blanket until you can leave them and be sure that they will not be fighting the blanket while you are absent. Additionally, many horse owners are against blanketing because they believe that horses have survived for centuries without blankets and that blanketing may affect the horse’s natural ability to regulate body temperature.
On the positive side, short-haired show horses can benefit from blanketing, because the blanket helps to keep the clipping time to a minimum when the cold months are here. Winter hair growth is a natural occurrence for horses, and performance horses that are blanketed require less clipping if blankets are used, plus they can enjoy exercising without sweating too much. In icy or snowy weather conditions, blankets will keep your horse dry, clean and ride-ready. When horses are moved from a climate that is warmer to a climate that is colder, a turnout blanket can aid in getting the horse accustomed to the new, colder climate.
Final Conclusion on Blanketing
We cannot offer a definitive answer on whether or not to blanket your horse during the colder months, because it essentially is a personal decision and will depend on each individual horse. What we can offer you, however, is more information from Colorado State University that provides blanketing tips and feed and nutrition tips for the winter months to help you make a more informed decision.