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Does my horse need a blanket?

By Toni McAllister | Nov-08

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Horse Illustrated MagazineAssuming he is in good health, has appropriate shelter from wind and rain, is not clipped, receives free-choice high-quality forage and has access to clean water that is never frozen, he probably doesn’t need a blanket says Dr. Benjamin Darien, DVM, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Veterinary Medicine.

But Dr. Darien advises that human intervention—clipping, life under barn lights (light inhibits coat growth), and diets that don’t allow for continual chewing and digestion to keep core body temperature up—can mandate blanketing even for healthy horses.

Dr. Darien suggests these general “what to wear” guidelines for healthy horses whose lifestyles might require a little extra warmth.

Above 60o Everyone goes naked! (unless wind is a factor)  
50o-60o F

Not clipped: sheet only
Clipped; midweight insulated blanket

40o-50o F

Not clipped; sheet and lightweight liner
Clipped: midweight insulated blanket
30o-40o F Not clipped: midweight insulated blanket
Clipped: heavy blanket
20o-30o F Not clipped: heavy blanket
Clipped: heavy blanket with fleece liner
Below 20o F Heavy blankets and liners for all; bring on the polar fleece for clipped horses.

This article was originally published in the October 2005 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe.

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Reader Comments

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

12/14/2013 11:29:28 PM

Wow, I've never seen someone recommend blankets so freely! Most horses in my experience that grow their own blankets never need blanketing! And it gets below zero here.

On the other hand when I had thoroughbreds they needed blanketing when a cloud crossed in front of the sun.

Phoebe    Interlachen, FL

4/20/2013 8:45:02 AM

Yes this article was enough information as barn helpers get confused with to much information. Thanks...!

kygal    rural, KY

10/22/2012 7:40:29 AM

allow my horse to be a horse there are three of them not clipped shelter and plenty of food and water plus they are all FAT

Caitlin    Evergreen, CO

5/13/2010 8:12:40 AM

@Megan - Shivering is how a horse's muscles generates extra heat, so when he does this it means that his body isn't generating quite enough. I would either feed him more or a higher quality hay, if possible, or get him a medium weight turnout blanket for when he starts shivering!

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