Five Blanketing Myths
 By Winniefield Park   •   19th Dec 2015   •   1,661 views   •   0 comments
Five Blanketing Myths

Blanketing will make your horse sick
I once had a farmer deliver hay to my hobby farm. He was a cattle farmer, and probably old enough to remember his father keeping a retired workhorse on the home farm. He looked at my blanketed horses standing in the snow and announced, you’re going to make those horses sick wearing those blankets. I never know exactly how to react when people make statements like that. Sick? How? My family has been blanketing horses for years. I can’t think of one illness that could be attributed in any way to a blanket. The few illnesses that have occurred could be directly attributed to one horse bringing a virus into the barn. There is no ‘blanketing sickness’ that I know of. But, I certainly don’t know everything.

Blanketing isn’t natural
Neither is keeping a horse in captivity, sitting on its back, or making it drag objects behind it while wearing a confusing configuration of straps. Whether or not something is natural or not isn’t really an argument for anything. Blanketing is just one more unnatural thing, in a very long list of unnatural things we do to and expect of horses .

Blanketing will keep your horse cold
I’d agree that there are folks who wrap their horses in thick outdoor rugs when the weather's still mild and risk overheating their horses. But if you have several horses, most are rugged, but a few are not, and it’s bitterly cold, perhaps windy and wet to boot, the horses that will show evidence of being chilled will be the ones not wearing blankets. Some horses tolerate the cold better than others. Blanketing doesn’t ruin the insulating layer of their own hair because that insulating layer has its limits. And, if your horse is standing with its coat staring, it’s because it’s already cold. This might be okay for a short while, or until it rains. A blanket can help keep it warm, and protect it from the wet in wind. Test it yourself. Put your hand underneath a blanket. Does it feel cold under there?

Related: When Not To Use a Rain Sheet
Related: To Blanket or Not to Blanket

Blanketing will cause rain rot
There doesn’t seem to be a 100% consensus on what causes rain rot, but it’s probably not blanketing. Some recent research suggest Vitamin A deficiency. But horses without blankets get rain rot, and horses that wear blankets get it too.

Horses don’t need blankets
Horses probably don’t need blankets, but blankets can help them come through cold weather more comfortably and possibly in better condition. They’ll burn less energy to keep them warm. And they’ll definitely be more comfortable, as long as the blanket fits right and doesn't pull and bind. They probably don’t need blankets if the temperature is only a few degrees below zero. But if it’s really cold, a blanket might be a good idea.

Blanketing prevents your horse from keeping itself warm by flattening the coat
If your horse’s coat is standing up, that means it’s already feeling cold and piloerection of the hair follicles or goosebumps are the last defence in its body’s efforts to stay warm. I don’t know what the insulation factor of a horse’s coat is. But a warm blanket may prevent your horse from getting chilled in the first place. Again, slip your hand underneath that blanket. Is it cold under there?

Well, there may be hay shortages, or gas shortages that drive up the cost of farrier visits, but it seems there will never be a shortage of opinions in the horse world. What’s yours?
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