This has been an argument among horse people since the beginning of time. This topic has split nations and collapsed entire empires (ok, not really, but it’s a touchy subject, ok?!). There are people who believe in blanketing as soon as the temperature drops and own 15 different turnout blanket weights (fill amount) and sheets for every weather encounterable, and then there are the people who never blanket and do not even own one.
The truth of the matter is we cannot tell you that your horse needs or does not need a blanket/sheet; that is something to evaluate yourself or even talk to your veterinarian about. But there are a few facts that need to be known about the physiology of the horse and other factors that come into play when deciding to cover up or go commando out in the field.
First and foremost: there is a direct correlation from the higher the body density, the harder it is to disperse (get rid of) heat.
For example, a mouse is super efficient at creating body heat, because it requires much less friction and/or bodily functions to heat. But, it will lose that heat much easier as well, because of its very low body density (especially compared to a horse). On the other hand, the exact opposite is true for animals as large as the horse: requires more friction and/or bodily functions to heat, but when it does become heated, it keeps that heat very easily.
However, any noticeable change in the length and thickness of the body hair will affect a horse's heat-retaining abilities. This can become a serious problem as the days get shorter moving into winter. As hair acts as a natural coat, any compromise in its natural occurrence from clipping will mean that the horse needs a blanket or a light sheet. Breeches.com offers a line of TuffRider horse clothing that is sure to make your horse and your wallet happy. The TuffRider Major 1200D Ballistic Standard Neck Two Tone Turnout Sheet is made for mild and rainy weather. With ballistic fabric, you won’t have to worry about your horse (or mean pasture mates) destroying your new sheet right away. This sheet is perfect for those southern winters or chilly, rainy days.
For the weekend warrior or the working horse mom, the 1200D Coolmax Turnout Sheet is great for fluctuating temperatures. With the CoolMax lining, moisture is wicked away from the skin for days that are still a little warm, but with chilly mornings and evenings.
A clipped horse may also need some cover at night inside the barn too. A stable sheet is a great thing to keep on hand for indoor use. The Thermo Manager Stable Sheet provides warmth without the weight of a full horse blanket. Easily adjustable belly and leg straps and front buckle closure make for a comfortable fit for any horse. This can also double as a layering piece as it gets colder.
One not so noticeable occurrence in the equine body is their favorite thing: eating! When forage hits the cecum, one byproduct of all of the digestive mechanisms happening is heat. Lots of it. If your horse has digestive issues or has apparent body condition loss, this is another reason to blanket your horse especially out in the elements. Horses with low body condition scores do not have the muscle or fat reserves to create friction or burn fat for energy to keep warm. Depending on the climate, these horses need special attention and consideration in swinging temperatures. A heavy horse blanket would be a smart purchase for a horse with a low body condition score. The TuffRider Optimum 1680D Triple Weave Heavy Weight Horse Blanket comes with a detachable neckpiece for full coverage. Clozease closures make for easy on/off so you can finally put on that blanket in no time even with numb, frozen fingers.
So, unfortunately, the answer is not a simple one. It really depends on your horse, what management style your barn uses, body condition and coat quality. Make sure you are continuously evaluating your horse’s body condition and coat quality throughout the seasons, as abnormal changes can come quickly, warranting a change in horse clothing. Always feel open to discuss this with your veterinarian!
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