About Me

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North Lawrence, New York, United States
I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Monday, October 08, 2012

To blanket or not to blanket? Now that is the question!

One of the big debates is whether to blanket or not. I've seen different sides of this issue and have spoken to many people and their criteria varies widely. A dry horse is a healthy horse so adequate protection from the elements and a healthy coat should suffice.  Horse fed a good quality diet with appropriate protein tend to grow a thick, winter coat that with its natural body oils, can shed moisture. I have blanketed on and off for years with some years not using them at all.  I like to judge what kind of shelter my horses have the temperature, as well as the weather forecast.  In Virginia they had shelter but it was smaller and there was usually a horse kicked out (and that varied) so I blanketed more often. Here in Northern New York, our climate is far colder in the winter. If it is sunny but cold, I don't worry much as they always have access to shelter. If it is wet out but above zero, I don't blanket as they have a large area to access shelter and no one is typically kicked out. When the temperatures start heading below zero (and it can reach 40 below zero Fahrenheit), I blanket.  I also closely monitor body weight and if a horse is seemingly thinning, I am certain to blanket that horse and will also address the nutritional issue. I also tend to blanket old horses. For me, this is a case by case, season by season issue.  Last yer we had a mild winter, I never blanketed once. I truly prefer to allow a horse to develop a natural coat as I believe that Mother Nature usually knows best. :)

There are many types of blankets to consider so be aware of what its purpose is.  Is it a stable blanket, intended for in-barn use only, a light, medium, or heavy weight rug for outdoors, do you need to buy a full hood or neck cover? All good questions and things to consider.  What is your price range-=now there is huge variance in this.  Not all blankets are created equal but I don't believe you need to spend a million bucks either.  I prefer Weatherbeeta but have had great luck with Rider's International as well. but you decide for yourself what brand suits your horse best. 

Fitting the blanket is vitally important.  A blanket that is too large or small can cause terrible rubbing on our horse making the experience far worse than leaving ell enough alone and not blanketing at all.

From Dover Saddlery:

How to Measure Your Horse and Fit Your Blanket
The fit of your blanket is extremely important to the comfort of your horse. Improperly fitting blankets can cause rubbing and slippage. To find blanket size, measure distance from center of the chest, across the point of the shoulder, and to the center of the tail. Many blankets are sized in two or three inch
increments, so choose the closest size available.

Care of Your Blanket
Blankets should be cleaned annually. First, remove excess dirt with a brush or hose, then wash by hand or on a delicate cool water cycle. Use very mild soap. Allow to drip dry. Do not put blankets in the dryer as this will damage the waterproof coating and void any warranties.

So, to blanket or not that is the question to you all, what do you do?

Here are some articles on the subject:

To Blanket or Not to Blanket by Cherry Hill

Why Not All Equines Need a Horse Blanket

To Blanket or Not to Blanket? By Horse.com


Janine said...

Yeah, I don't blanket. I figure also god gave them hair blankets. Of course, they have access to shelter:)

Lisa said...

I'm with you - it depends. My preference is to stay out of Mother Nature's way as much as possible. I have a winter blanket for Cricket but that's only "just in case."

Cricket & Etruska live outside year-round and now have constant access to shelter (run-in and trees) as well as free-choice forage. Unless it gets sloppy wet, I have little reason to blanket.

That being said, Cricket doesn't seem to be growing a very thick coat. I will keep an eye on her but if her coat is insufficient, I may need to blanket more.