I have to say that I have found that there are as many "right" answers to that question as there are horse owners. ( hehehehe ) Every horse owner knows that their way is the only right way to do anything, and that includes their opinions on this age old question. If you are a "blanketeer", then you could give me at least 20 good and sound reasons why everyone should blanket their horses and how they are abusing their horses if they don't. And to give credit where credit is due, you die- hard "non-blanketeers" could give me just as many good and sound reasons to not blanket a horse, and also explain that blanketing a horse is a form of abuse. I know this sounds wishy-washy of me, but I actually do stand somewhere close to the middle on this one. I have to admit to you that I have never blanketed one of my horses. I do tend to hang close to the side that says "the closer to their natural habitat, the better for the horse".
I'd like to share some info with you, and let you decide what you think is best for your horse / horses. The first thing we have to realize is that horses do not get warm or cold like we do. You really can't tell if a horse is chilly by how cool / cold you feel. Horses get warm by digesting forage. When a horse eats hay, a fermintation process begins in their guts. The by product of that fermintation process is heat. They literally have an inside heater. (sometimes I wish I did) If they have an extra chilly night ahead of them, make sure they have an adequate amount of good quality hay to eat on, and a normal, healthy horse should do just fine.
The second thing to keep in mind is the bulk of the horse. If you think about it, it takes longer for a large chunk of ice to melt than a small one. So, a nice, healthy sized horse should have less trouble staying warm than one that is underweight or of a small stature.
The next thing to consider would be that thick, wooly, winter coat......or the lack thereof. A horses winter coat is made up of some thick, coarse hairs of different lengths. With that in mind, your horses winter coat fluffs up and sort of traps a layer of nice, warm air around it's body. Some horses have wonderful, thick winter coats and, unfortunately, some don't.
So, with all of that in mind, I'm sure that you can make a good and sound decision about whether your horse needs a blanket or not. Please keep a couple of things in mind if you do decide to blanket your horse.
#1 Please, please, please....groom your horse every day. Take that blanket off and groom him/her from head to toe. That blanket rubs with every step they take, and flattens their hair down, and gets downright uncomfortable if not removed every day.
#2 Make sure that if your horse is kept in the barn/stable at night, to ventilate the barn. A closed barn holds in ammonia fumes and moisture. It's definitely better to blanket and ventilate than to close it all up.
#3 Keep your horse dry. If he/she is outside and it rains, remember, a wet blanket will get a horse cold very quickly.
#4 Check underneath that blanket frequently. Check for heat and/or sweat. A horse can overheat quickly under a blanket.
So, until next time: