October 29, 2010

Horsemanship Tip of the Month November/December

Blanketing Your Horse in Colder Weather

Let's face it - blanketing can become an unwelcome and time-consuming chore, especially if you are blanketing more than one each day. If our horses did not derive significant benefits from blanketing, we more-than-likely would not bother. Some of these benefits are: a smoother easier-to-groom coat, warmer muscles and joints less prone to aches and pains as well as easier weight maintenance, to name a few. One of the best ways to start the blanketing process is with a thin nylon sheet, beginning at night on November 1st. If temperatures do not vary greatly day into night, the sheet can continue to stay on until you ride. If the days are warmer, remove the sheet during the day and re-sheet at night. This gives your horse a buffer against impending cold while still allowing them to "toughen up." Once December 1st rolls around, add a light-weight blanket over the top of the sheet at night. Together, you have the equivalent of (at least) a medium weight blanket to guard against the cold. Then remove the top blanket during the day and allow the horse to wear the sheet only. In the case of severe weather, leave both on. These layers provide not only the protection your horse needs, but they allow you to remove or add more layers as temperatures fluate, being more fair to your horse's natural heating system. This also saves time and can help avoid the blanket-off blanket-on ritual we could face (leaving your horse to stand "naked" until the new blanket goes on!) At my own boarding stable and all the others I've been priveledged to be part of, I've never met a horse yet that minded a little extra warmth in colder weather.