Horses can actually do quite well without a blanket in even the most harsh winter storms. Their coat fluffs up like a blanket providing extra warmth and insulation. But there are circumstances when your horse really does need a blanket. Here are some things you’ll want to consider:
Does your horse have access to shelter in rainy and windy weather?
If the weather is rainy and windy, your horses wet coat isn’t going to fluff up and your horse will become chilled. However, with a shelter (3 sided works best) where he can get in out of the worst of the rain and wind, he can still manage quite nicely through winter without a blanket.
How old is your horse?
As your horse gets older, his ability to keep warm can diminish. Many older horses have trouble keeping weight on to give them that extra layer of fat for the winter. Many horses keep warm during the winter by the very act of eating and digesting hay. But if your older horse has dental problems that compromise this, he may not have that avenue to help keep warm. Finally, horses can keep warm just by moving around. But older horses often become arthritic or develop navicular problems and their desire to walk around decreases, so they can become more chilled. Most older horses appreciate a blanket during the winter.
Has your horse been clipped?
Depending on how “clipped” your horse is, he may need a blanket. There are a variety of clip options. The one you select will most likely depend on your climate, how much work your horse does and his normal coat. Without clipping and after a vigorous workout, it can seem to take forever to cool your horse off if you have one of the shaggier breeds with a heavy winter coat. A belly and neck clip may not require any extra blanketing, but the trace and other clips leave a lot of the horse’s shorn body exposed to the elements when blanketing may be a must.
As an alternative to clipping to help your horse dry out faster, consider installing a wash or grooming stall heater. Also great after a bath, Classic Equine Equipment’s electric heaters produce short wave length infrared that converts to instant, controllable, directional heat to warm and dry horses in less time. It also is great for warming horse owners!