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The inevitable Should I Blanket my Horse thread
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PasoBaby_CarolU
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 2:49 pm    Post subject: The inevitable Should I Blanket my Horse thread Reply with quote

I pulled this off Facebook so everyone here could read it too.

This is from Elaine Nash on Handy Hints for Horses page: Here is some information on winter blanketing that may surprise you. This is the result of a multi-year study done by CSU, using state of the art thermal detection equipment. Colorado State University is widely considered to be one of the top three equine veterinary schools in the country: Blanketing horses is one of the worst things that you can do to a horse in the winter. Horses have the ability to loft and lower their coats to 17 different levels, so it's like exchanging 17 different thermal weights of blankets off and on them all day and night, depending on what they need- except that we don't know what they need as well as they do. Their 'self-blanketing' process works a little like 'chill bumps' do in our own skin. That's why long-haired horses may seem fluffier on some days than on others. Only three things make the 'self-blanketing' process not work: blanketing, clipping, and wind. Not even snow or rain stops their own thermostats from doing the job. Also horses are in 'neutral' (meaning not using energy for either heating or cooling) when the air around them is between 26 and 38 degrees. Otherwise, they're using energy to control their temps. So- since they're cooling their bodies when the temp is over 38 degrees, they're having to use extra energy to cool themselves when blanketed in temperatures over that. Any time a horse that is outside and has a long coat is shivering, it's because the horse has opted to shiver to warm itself, instead of using the option of moving. Moving generates a considerable amount of heat for a horse, but they sometimes stand and shiver while napping, etc. It does not mean that they need to be blanketed. However- a horse MUST have a way to get out of the wind in order for their 'self-blanketing' abilities to function fully. It turns out that blanketing is done more for pleasing the human, than to fill a need of the horse. The horse blanket industry has done a great job of making us think that their product is a necessary part of good horsekeeping- when it is actually an item that is very seldom needed. Another often unknown fact is that horses become dehydrated more frequently in the winter than in the summer. The horse feels less thirsty because they're not triggered by heat to drink more water, so the lack of appropriate intake often causes dehydration. A suggestion for this is to offer one or two buckets full of cool-to-tepid molasses-enhanced water per day. 50 lb. bags of crystalized molasses are available by order through feed stores (if they don't keep it on hand), and is easier to work with than wet [sticky] molasses. A 50 lb. bag of dry molasses costs under $20.00 and will last all winter for several horses. Molasses are high in iron, and make a good supplemental addition, in any case. Another little known fact is that horses do not need more feed in the winter than in the summer. In the summer horses are using energy to cool themselves. In the winter they are using energy to warm themselves. Both efforts use similar amounts of energy. In fact, if horses have feed before them for more of the time during the winter, they are less likely to move about, which decreases one of their most efficient heating processes. (Old or unhealthy horses may need extra help keeping warm in the winter just as they need help staying cool in the summer- but even in the cases of these special-need horses, over-blanketing may cause sweating, which can then cause chilling- and more serious consequences.)
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Carol Nudell
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whudson
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nicely timed Carol.  Interesting article and sure makes me feel better
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ErinR76
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

veeeery good information, I will pass it on to all my horsey friends!!
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TakinabreakFromtheVirtual
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yep a good article.
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TakinabreakFromtheVirtual
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yep a good article.
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CoolsLadyInRed
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very good article. Want to share it with friends.
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ErinR76
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha ha LOL. I shared this with friends and one said, I want to see the original link. So naturally I went looking. I found out from another thread (which is as we all know, a totally reliable source! ) this:

I am currently at CSU and have contacted most of the equine specialists and have not been able to find anyone who is at all aware of a blanketing study at CSU. If such does exist, please provide the reference so we might make any clarifications required.

here's the thread the above quote came from:

http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?p=5927984
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PasoBaby_CarolU
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL Erin, good point.

Maybe they credited the wrong school.

http://www.extension.umn.edu/hors...ents/pdfs/equine_winter_care1.pdf

From my own, unscientific study, I have found that those from northern climates agree with said study and don't question the results (myself included), but those from southern climes who blanket their horses, question the study.  

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Carol Nudell
Corazon de Oro Paso Finos

"The path to your horse's heart lies through your own."

"A man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe."  Euripides 480-406 BCE

‎"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss activities; Small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt
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Jewil
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it depends on the horse. I have one I blanket and one I don't. The one I don't gets a very nice coat and he only got cold once or twice last year (we had a freak snow/ice storm in Texas). They have run in shelters but when we get freezing rain I am putting on the waterproof blankets... Just my 2 cents.
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PasoBaby_CarolU
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have quite a collection of blankets.  My IR mare gets a thick Weatherbeater blanket when it goes below 20.  She is the only one who gets a blanket unless one is sick or something.  The only other time I blanket is in the summer, believe it or not.   When we camp at high elevations it gets pretty cold at night (in the 40's), which is hard on horses used to 90-degree heat.   So I keep blankets in the trailer and blanket when camping high.  I also keep waterproof sheets in my horse trailer for if it rains there, which it has in the past.

I'm looking outside today, and we had a half inch of rain last night, which has now switched to snow.  All my horses have free choice in/out.   They are all in, watching the snow fall.  (not dumb horses!)

Horse coats are interesting.   All my horses are Paso Finos, a very small breed, so all are related within a few generations.   I have three that could compete with bears for thick coats, three that grow medium coats, and two that don't seem to grow any.   In the winter, they are the only ones I ride a lot because the others get too sweaty and it's too hard to get them dry again.  I do know people who ride a lot in the winter, and they do have to blanket and barn their horses to keep the coats thinner.
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Carol Nudell
Corazon de Oro Paso Finos

"The path to your horse's heart lies through your own."

"A man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe."  Euripides 480-406 BCE

‎"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss activities; Small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt
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ErinR76
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My personal practice is to blanket in freezing conditions which are also wet (if my horse is not in a stall, which most of the time she is not.) And if I go to blanket her and she fidgets or tries to escape, I don't push the issue. I figure she knows best what the inside of her skin feels like

I think last year she was blanketed about two days
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Chablis
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Minx is feeling the cold now (she's rising 19).  This last winter was quite hard on her; she got a cold,  only ever develops a fine winter coat and drops weight easily.  Rugging solved the problem.

She is also rugged in summer as she has allergies.

Magic has never been rugged and has a coat like a yak at the moment - well, in parts, her summer coat has come through and isn't 6 inches long like her winter coat.  
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gaitinalong
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

<sigh>  I used to be a person that never blanketed unless, as PB commented, we were camping high up in the Allegheny Nat'l Forest in the Fall where it's a lot colder at night than down in the Foothills.

One of my three TWH's also has a thinner coat.  He looks in the winter, like a lot of horses do in the summer but he never gets cold.

I sent two horses to meet their ancestors at ages 27 & 29 and they never wore blankets.

"Never say never"    

Several weeks back, the temps were high 90's and the Feels Like over 100; they plummeted 72 hours later to a high of 57, windy, pouring rain all day.  My 25-1/2 yr old Arab got chilled and couldn't recover.

I ran to town and bought him a weatherproof coat.

Following that, all my horses had physicals.  The vet spent a lot of time with my 24 yr old TWH that has Equine Metabolic Syndrome (about the same as IR but muscle waste is involved).

His tear-jerking comments were:

1.  "I know you know that Duke is the least healthy of all your horses.  Where the arthritis is concerned, he's probably got 3 - 4 more good years before we have to talk".  

2.  "The melanomas are external (inside his ears and over one eye), so we won't worry about them unless they break open or start to grow rapidly."

3.  "His coat is not quite the same as everyone else's ---- have a blanket ready for him on inclement days."

4.  And finally ----- "he's your alpha horse, that mindset will carry him a lot further with his issues than what the other horses could handle.  By the way has he started to hand off any of that leadership yet?"

So my Dollface and BFF of 21 years also now has a weatherproof winter coat for cold/damp/rainy/windy days.  I don't see that his coat is any different than it ever was.

I was so taken aback by all these "unhealthy" comments, that I was fighting back tears and my lips quit moving.  Neither of which I do easily.

I have heard comments that once you start blanketing a horse, it has to be kept up 24/7.  I guess I can see that if a horse is outside 24/7 and/or they are clipped.

My horses aren't clipped and come in every night, so the two Coat Guys have time to regenerate natural body heat and keep their hair thick.

I also cut the EMS guy's Chastetree back from 1/4 daily to a heaping TBS daily.  If the vet might have been seeing a thinner coat on him, I think that's why.  It stayed so hot for so long, I didn't cut him back when I normally do.

So that's my blanket story.  Most of my life was spent on the OH/PA border where it does get cold and I have never blanketed a horse (or needed to) until this year
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ErinR76
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How many times have we heard of horses or people given poor prognoses (prognosises?! LOL) only to have those horses or people laugh in the face of the one holding the degree? Don't let it get you down too much, just keep an eye on your BFF
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bit
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have wp blankets on Bit and Shaun right now.  Almost 80 yesterday and snow tonight.  Raining all day, ugly cold and I caved.  Usually I don't blanket unles it's below 20.  I keep a good eye on everyone and if they are shivering. they get a rug.  Bit seems to be the only one that gets cold.  As soon as this storm blows through, they'll be naked again.  Bit just doesn't seem to grow much coat anymore.  Shaun is a little heat genterator.  Must be a tb thang.  He's just in a slightly insulated rain sheet and is toasty.  Bit was cold to the touch, so she got a thinsulite winter blanket until tomorrow a.m.  Will be mixing up a nice, hot dinner too.  Can you believe it? It'll be 80 on Tuesday.
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