It seems like we can’t get through a winter without some people having really extreme opinions on blanketing.
Don’t blanket your horses! It’s better for them to be all natural! Clipping them is basically the same as BREAKING THEIR LEGS!!!!!!! Only a foolish over protective person would blanket their horse!
Don’t leave your horse out to the cold! Horses have no natural defenses to the cold and the wind! I would never let my horse out without a blanket if it was under X degrees! Only an ignorant person would never blanket their horse!
So where do I stand? Like with most issues, I decline to take a black or white stand on the issue.
This is Elvis in his winter coat. I clipped him only one out of seven winters. With me he always had some mild blanketing, but I know he’s gone without as well. Elvis is the kind of horse that gives 0 f’s about a stall or fine blankets. He’s been on 24 hour turnout in the past, and does well with it. I have no doubt you could probably leave him alone for 30 days (keeping up with proper feeding of course) and he would be 100% content eating in his field alone.
Of course, you know Simon. Simon is a bit of a princess. He drops weight in the winter, and on 24 hour turnout he begins to look like a bit of a rescue case. He loves his stall and his stall toys. I have clipped him the past two winters, and will continue to do so. He heavily sweats in work, and without clipping he can take a while to cool out in the winter. Most nights he goes out, but if the weather is cold and severe (lots of rain) he stays inside with increased hay. If I break my riding routine of 3-4 days a week, he notices. If I take an extended vacation, he tends to give me the cold shoulder when I get back.
My point about these two creatures is that horses are individual. Elvis was bred to be a tough and hardy work horse… so he’s pretty damn tough. Simon was bred to run on a track with humans as his top friends, companions and trainers. He thrives under an environment that gives him roughly 10 hours of turnout a day plus what he considers the “finer” things in life.
These two horses were bred for different purposes, and I might treat them differently because of it. I don’t think either way is wrong.
To me, it’s cruel to put your personal agenda before your horse’s needs. I believe some horses need to be blanketed, but I don’t doubt that many are blanketed un-necessarily. I don’t believe in throwing a pampered show horse in a field all of a sudden to be all natural with no acclimation. I don’t believe in taking a tough and hardy horse not used to a strict program and immediately clipping them and throwing them into a stall with a ton of horseware Ireland rugs or other blankets and lights.
Those are my thoughts on blanketing horses. What are yours?