This post is inspired by Emme's comment on my snow day post. She mentioned that her mare, Pippi, will not go out in inclement weather without her hood on.
I used to be fanatical about blanketing my horses. And I have trunks full of winter blankets to prove it :) I still have huge pangs of guilt putting my horses out on a cold or snowy day without a blanket, but last winter, I decided to try an experiment, and I am sticking to it.
After reading numerous articles on the benefits and disadvantages of blanketing, I decided to try and let my horses be horses for the winter of 2010-2011. Wouldn't you know, we got hammered with snow and cold weather last year. But my horses were fine. The mares were decidedly happier without their blankets. John thought I had gone off the deep end at first - he loves his blankets - but even he adapted and grew a winter coat worthy of a wooly mammoth.
So I stuck with my no blanketing in the winter approach for the winter of 2011-2012. But there are several reasons why it works for me (and may not work for others). The biggest reason is that I am not working my horses much over the winter - I don't have a real ring and I didn't board anyone at a barn with an indoor the last two winters. I try and ride some, but I don't work them hard, so I never have hot horses to cool out. If we were working regularly, they would definitely be blanketed.
And I still see a lot of good reasons to use blankets, sheets, coolers etc. I always take at least one to competitions with me. After my experience on day one of the Jersey Devil Trail Ride last October, I will be packing more in 2012. And I really like using my rump rug at competitions, and working in the winter.
What are your thoughts on blanketing?