If horses evolved to live freely on the prairie, without protection from the elements, why do we as horse owners insist on blanketing them?? It may seem like a silly thing, but there are some very important reasons for making the choice to blanket your horse.? First and foremost is for warmth.? Most domestic horses do grow out a very thick winter coat but in some climates this might not actually be enough to keep them warm, especially if they are spending a lot of time outdoors.? Without this extra warmth, the horse must use extra energy to keep warm and can also risk losing muscle flexibility in the cold.? If your horse doesn?t live in a cold climate, you might still decide to blanket him over the winter months.? Senior horses and hard-to-keep horses are usually the first to be blanketed through the winter months, as these horses can have a difficult time getting enough nutrients and energy from their food to help them to stay warm.? This can cause them to rapidly lose weight through the winter months.? Additionally, any horse that has been clipped, even in a simple trace clip, will need a blanket to act as a substitute for his natural defenses against the elements.
There are also times in warmer weather when blanketing your horse may be advantageous.? Lightweight sheets can keep a horse protected from flies and biting insects, and can also prevent the sun from bleaching his coat or even giving him sunburn if his coat has been clipped.? If you are planning on showing your horse, you may keep a sheet on him to prevent scratches and scrapes that will mar his perfect coat.? Standing unprotected in the rain is never good for a horse, so you might also choose to use a rain sheet if his paddock or pasture has little shelter.
When making the decision to blanket your horse, be aware that adding a blanket will inhibit his natural coat growth, and once you start blanketing for the winter season you?ll probably need to continue to do so.