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Sensible Blanketing

When the cold winter weather hits, many horse owners automatically bring out the horse blankets. However, a horse’s normal winter coat is much more insulating than a blanket, and unless the horse has been clipped, is outside without a windbreak, or has been moved to a colder climate during winter months, it will usually actually be warmer without a blanket.

The longer winter coat helps to trap the body heat against the skin. Also, tiny muscles in the skin raise the hairs, creating tiny air pockets that heighten the insulating effect. Flatten this ‘fluffed-up’ coat by adding layers of light blankets, or even one heavy one, can actually make the horse colder.

However there are some circumstances where a blanket is necessary. Carefully consider whether or not your horse should be blanketed.

-Is your horse mostly outside without much shelter?

-Is he/she older and needs extra help staying warm or keeping weight on?

-Is your horse clipped?

-Has your horses recently moved to a colder climate?

These are some of the reasons why your horse would need the extra protections of a blanket through the winter.

Firstly- measure your horse to see what size he will need…

You will need to measure starting from the middle of the horse’s chest, around the widest part of his shoulder and barrel, all the way to the middle of his tail.  If the measurement is an odd number always round up to the next even number.

Watch the clip for a demonstration of how to measure correctly.


Once your horse’s size has been determined, you need to decide what TYPE of blanket he will need.

Pick a heavier, waterproof blanket if your horse lives in turnout all of the time. If your horse lives in a stall or barn during the winter months, you may need only a mid- to light-weight sheet.

If you live in a wet region, it is best to make sure that all your blankets are waterproof and not just water resistant.

Comparison shop at your local tack shop or online. There are brands of blankets that fit most budgets. Buy the best blanket you can afford, as higher-quality blankets typically need less repair. If you plan ahead and shop during the summer months, you’re likely to get a better deal on a blanket that meets your needs.

Try not to start blanketing too early in the winter season- give your horse as much time as possible to grow a winter coat.

BEST OPTION– if it is at all possible,  try to make sure your horse always has a warm dry place to get out of the rain and snow, so that you do not need to blanket at all!!

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