Saturday, February 4, 2012

To Blanket Or Not To Blanket

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?

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