SmartPak Monday Morning Feed: When to Blanket

Whether or not to blanket a horse can be a hot-button topic among equestrians. However, the answer isn’t as simple as whether or not its a good idea. There are a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to determining when or if you blanket your horse. Read on for more:

How Your Horse Stays Warm

Your horse’s coat may be smarter than you think!

Because your horse was designed to spend his days roaming outside, he is naturally equipped with tools to keep himself warm when the temperatures start cooling down. Here, we’ll take a look at what your horse does to stay warm, and why that may not always be enough.

In response to the fading sunlight, your horse’s body starts producing his winter coat as soon as the days start getting shorter. He begins to grow his longer, thicker winter coat in July, shedding the shorter, thinner summer coat in October. That winter coat has longer and coarser hairs than his summer coat, and he uses them to keep himself warm by fluffing them up to trap heat. The individual hairs stand up rather than lying flat against the skin, which traps warm air close to his body and insulates him from the cold.

Along with using this thick hair coat to stay warm from the outside, your horse also uses calories to keep himself warm from the inside. His body ferments roughage in the hindgut, which creates heat that helps maintain his core temperature, which is why many horse owners feed more hay in the winter. However, even your horse’s full winter coat and normal calorie intake may not be enough to keep him warm all winter, depending on his body’s lower critical temperature or LCT.

Your horse’s LCT is the lowest temperature at which he can maintain his core body temperature without using additional energy. Once the temperature outside gets below that LCT, his hair coat and normal calorie intake alone aren’t enough to keep him warm.

To Blanket Or Not To Blanket Your Horse

We’ll help you decide what’s right for you and your horse!

Deciding if and when you should blanket your horse depends on his: coat, living situation, digestive health and age, body condition, and the lowest temperature at which he can keep himself warm.

That’s why, like most things in the horse world, the short answer to the age-old debate of whether or not to blanket is “it depends.” Every horse is an individual, and the decision to blanket should be based on their unique needs (and not just because their owner is cold!).

There are five key factors that play a role in how your horse stays warm, and we’ll help you understand how each one impacts the decision to blanket your horse.

Still not sure if you should blanket your horse?

Check out why these example horses are blanketed (or not) and see if one of them matches your horse’s situation.

SmartTip: It’s best to be prepared!

Even if your horse spends most of his time unblanketed, it’s a smart idea to have one on hand just in case it gets unusually cold or snowy. If you’re prepared ahead of time, you won’t have to worry about getting a blanket rushed out right before the storm hits!

If you still need help, you check out SmartPak’s full blanketing guide below:

Go SmartPak and go riding!