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Selecting The Correct Winter Horse Blanket

By Jeffrey Rolo

A Guide To Horse Blankets discussed why a winter horse blanket is necessary for cold climates due to the domestication of horses, so rather than reiterate all that we'll jump straight to the heart of the matter.

There are two types of winter horse blankets for you to consider:

bulletStable Blankets
bulletTurnout Rugs and/or Blankets

A stable blanket is generally thick and very warm, designed for maximum comfort and warmth rather than maneuverability. They are most often used when the horse is stabled inside (thus its name), but when the Fahrenheit dips low enough you will want to strongly consider allowing its use outside.

horse winter blanket
Blue Heavy Wool Lined
Horse Turnout Blanket - 78"
Turnout rugs and blankets are built to be a little more durable than blankets… as their name implies, they are for turnout and thus generally accommodate better maneuverability.

When temperatures dip below zero it will very likely be necessary for your horse to wear a stable blanket and a turnout rug while put outside, but each individual horse will be a separate case. If you clipped your horse then blankets are all that will separate your horse from the cold elements and their skin, so offer the horse maximum protection. If you allowed your horse to develop a healthy winter coat then you won't need to rely on blankets quite so much.

So how do you know if your horse is too cold or too warm? The signs are very similar to how we would react to extreme temperatures!

If your horse is too cold he may:

bulletStand in a stiff or tense manner as well as tuck its tail firmly against its body
bulletShiver (what a surprise!)
bulletDevelop the equine equivalent of goose-bumps: hair that stands on end
bulletNot have enough detectible body warmth as you run your hands across his face, ears, etc.

If your horse exhibits any of those signs strongly consider allowing him inside a stable and/or blanketing him better depending on his current situation.

If your horse is too warm he may:

bulletSweat! This is the number one indicator that your horse is a bit too well blanketed. Run your hand underneath the blanket and feel his skin/hair around the neck area as well as the rear shoulder area. If it is wet or sticky, he's too warm.

It is important to check your horse's comfort levels a few times a day during the very cold days to ensure he is neither too warm nor too cold. Depending on your horse's natural resistance and/or preference to cold and winter coat, it can vary widely from one horse to another. While one horse may desperately need a winter horse blanket, another may be just fine on his own.

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