Monday, December 17, 2007

17 December 2007 (2nd post)

I forgot to answer the questions that Mike, Strawberry Lane and Abraham asked about the horses out in the cold and whether I blanket them or not. The problem with blanketing is if you start using one at the beginning of winter then you will have to continue using it the whole winter. I dont use them at all, the only time I do is when I have a new foal and it is really cold when they are first born.
The pictures above some of you may remember, they are of Taxes the morning he was born this last April 15th. It had snowed the day before and was raining and freezing so I blanketed him the minute he was born, he was still wet from the birth so I dried him the best I could and put the blanket on him. He only wore it for a few days, then it started warming up a bit so he was fine without it. Horses are very resiliant, they tend to grow a coat which is thick enough to keep them warm, in fact I can normally tell if it is going to be a really cold or warmer winter by how thick their coats get and how soon they start to grow them. The hair traps air underneath it and that is what keeps them warm (a short quick version of how it works LOL). Another problem with blanketing is that you have to be sure to remove the blanket at least once a day to check for rubbing and to groom or brush the horse. They can get really itchy and also the blanket flattens the hair so it cant work as it should do without it so they become reliant on the blanket. My horses are always in the barn at night or in a shelter and are also inside when the weather is really bad, some people who have their horses out 24 7 but have no shelters will put blankets on their horses too to protect them from the ice and rain. Of course you can also have the problem that your horse will rub holes in them because it is itching or will roll in the mud and displace the blanket and become tangled so I suppose it is a personal thing and depends on each persons circumstances with regard to climate and facilities.

So in short, no I dont blanket my horses because I have shelter for them in severe weather and they seem to cope fine. The other morning when it was 4F (about -14C or so) I went into the barn and some of the horses had frost on their coats and whiskers but they were quite happy. A horse will shiver when it is cold which actually is a reflex action that generates heat in its system, so although it looks terrible it is actually their way of keeping warm. I have only seen this happen once and that was when we first got Gee the thoroughbred mare off the track in November 2 years ago. She had been in a heated barn and had a short coat and after she had been with us a few days we had a very cold snap. We were loathe to start blanketing her for the reasons mentioned above and she only did it the one time. It is amazing how quickly their hair will grow, literally within days she had a good winter coat started and never looked back. I kept a close eye on her but she was fine.

Hope that all makes sense and sorry to be so long winded LOL



Mike said...

Thanks for the explanation. I would think it would bother the horses. These were on full grown ones from what I could see.

Take care Lori. Thanks for all your fine work. It was neat seeing Taxes baby pictures again.


Rising Rainbow said...

He was such a cute little baby. Well, not so little, but definitely cute.

I blanket most of my horses because they are being raised to be show horses and I never know when someone might want to come by and look. Many people can't see through all of that hair so keeping them blanketed in the winter keeps them cleaner and slicker coated for that. But it's a lot of extra work to do so.

oldmanlincoln said...

Wow. What a beauty he is. It is a shame you can't put his picture up in his stall. He might like it.

Thanks for the explanation.

I would. Gosh. It is hard to imagine how big he is now.

I hope you saw the horses I told you about in the ice. I guess with that many horses they have to get used to it. And all other kinds of weather.

Kathy C said...

That was a good explanation Lori. We keep ours un-blanketed. With our first horse we would go out and brush the snow off of him. Little did we know we were actually rubbing it into his coat and making him wet and cold.

I think I will invest in a foal blanket though. Classy is due April 1st and you know the weather will likely be cold! (just because) We can always use it for the calves too!

I continue to enjoy your photos!

CG said...

The horses at the riding school are mainly clipped, so they wear blankets (called rugs in the uk), sometimes more than one, and they are kept in at night.fascinating to think how well nature equips horses to survive extreme temps!

Strawberry Lane said...

Thanks for the common sense explanation on blankets. My husband especially appreciates it.

I will now go break the news to my spoiled-rotten horse. No new blanket for Christmas. I'll also tell him that 40 F is not 4F !
Actually, it is his mother that is the problem.

Royal has a warm stall, but he prefers to stay outside even in the rain. It's his choice. Oh, well.

We live near an Equestrian Center and have the lovely job of blanketing and de-blanketing the horses for friends when they are gone. But as cg said, those horses are clipped for shows.

The photo of Taxes is about the sweetest thing I've seen. Just so adorable !

Salty said...

Good explanation. I'm don't know much about horses but have been around cattle all of my life. We let it up to the cows as to whether they come inside or not and never have given it a thought about any other protection. They do just fine.

In years past during the winter we would keep the young calves in the barn. Now we allow them to roam outside with the cows. Diarrhea was a constant problem in the calves but now with them outside most of the time it only occurs rarely.

Thanks for your nice comments and thanks a lot for the linkage. I have returned the favor.

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