Ever Wondered When to Blanket a Horse?
As a horse owner, it is essential to have a horse blanket temperature chart. This will guide you on when to blanket your horse. Long hair coats and a layer of fat under the skin are two of a horse’s natural defenses against the cold. Both offer a great insulating method. You must cover a horse when it’s chilly outside and in other adverse conditions.
How Cold Can Horses Tolerate?
Horses can withstand cold weather much better than we usually give them credit. Even if it may be bitterly chilly outside, our horses may not share our opinion. Since horses adapt to survive in the cold, there is typically no need to put them inside a barn or stable during the winter.
18 degrees Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) is a comfortable temperature for horses to survive. They can withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.3 degrees Celsius) if they have access to shelter.
They can survive in temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) without shelter. Horse breeds with cold blood, like Icelandic or Yakutian horses, can endure temperatures as low as -70 degrees Fahrenheit (-2.2 degrees Celsius).
The ability of a horse to endure cold temperatures depends on various factors. It is a discovery that a horse’s overall physical health, rather than its breed, determines how much cold it can tolerate. Horses have several morphological and physiological adaptations to withstand even the coldest winters.
Horse Blanket Temperature Chart
The following chart is very important. It will act as a horse blanket guide to help you take good care of your horse.
|Temperature Range||Unclipped Horses||Clipped Horses|
|Above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 degrees Celsius)||No blanket||Maybe a sheet, but no blanket|
|40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (1.3 to 1.6 degrees Celsius)||Lightweight blanket||Light/medium blanket|
|30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 to 1.3 degrees Celsius)||Light/medium blanket||Medium/heavy blanket|
|20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (0.6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius)||Medium/heavy blanket||Heavy turnout blanket|
|Below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius)||Heavy blanket||Heavy blanket with a blanket liner|
The Different Types of Horse Blankets
A horse blanket has stuffing to keep your horse warm, whereas a horse sheet is lightweight and has none. Turnout and stable are the two variations available. While stable sheets and blankets are not waterproof, and the horse should wear them indoors, turnout sheets and blankets are for use when your horse is outside. It cannot be easy to choose between various varieties.
Still, we’ll examine the distinctions in greater detail below to assist you in making sure that your horse’s wardrobe has adequate stock. You need options, whether it’s raining, snowing, or too chilly to go outside. Therefore you have a range of outerwear in your wardrobe. Your horse should have the same!
Although there are many different clothing styles for horses, we’re going to start by concentrating on two key aspects: the degree of warmth and the presence (or absence) of waterproofing.
The Ideal Horse Blanket Material
Nylon or a fabric blend makes up most turnout blankets. Turnout blankets also come in various fill weights, allowing you to choose the degree of warmth your horse will receive from the blanket.
How to Put a Horse in a Blanket
For your horse to be cozy, safe, and capable of giving its best performance, your horse blanket must fit them precisely. It’s crucial to properly fit your WeatherBeeta blanket because a bad fit might lead to discomfort and rubbing:
- Start by covering your horse’s back with a blanket. You might need assistance holding your horse while you make modifications if it is wearing a blanket for the first time.
- You should fasten the chest straps. For your horse to move freely underneath the cloth without slipping back, the blanket must fit properly around the withers and shoulders. Make sure you can still slide your hand down the blanket’s neck after adjusting the fasteners.
- After ensuring the blanket fits snugly over the horse’s neck, place it so that it lies flat along the back of the animal. The blanket can be too big if the seam runs from the tail flap to the blanket below the top of the tail.
- When attaching cross surcingles to a blanket, be careful to position the cross straps well in front of the horse’s stifle, in the center of the horse’s belly. Once more, the distance between the straps and the horse’s body should be a hand’s breadth.
- Lastly, slide the left leg strap between the back legs and tie it there when using blankets with leg straps.
- Take the right leg strap, slip it through the loop the left leg strap created, and fasten it to the right side.
- The leg straps prevent rubbing and work together to pull the rug into position. The blanket will shift and roll about very little if it is well-fitted. The blanket will slip if the leg straps are too slack.
- Adjust the leg straps evenly until there is space between them and the horse’s thigh, about the breadth of one hand. This promotes flexibility of movement.
How Does a Horse Stay Warm?
Perhaps our horse’s coat is smarter than you think! Because it spends its days wandering outdoors, your horse has the means to keep itself warm when the weather begins to turn chilly. In this post, we’ll examine how your horse stays warm and why it might not always be adequate.
As soon as the days get shorter due to the dwindling daylight, your horse’s body produces its winter coat. It grows its longer, thicker winter coat in July and loses its shorter, thinner summer coat in October. It retains heat by fluffing up the longer, coarser hairs of its winter coat, distinct from those in its summer coat.
The hairs don’t lay flat on the skin; instead, they lift upward, trapping warm air close to its body and shielding it from the cold.
In addition to using its thick hair coat to keep it warm from the outside, your horse uses calories to stay warm from the inside. Since roughage fermentation in the horse’s hindgut aids in keeping the animal warm, many horse owners give their animals more hay throughout the winter.
However, even with a thick winter coat and a typical calorie intake, your horse might not be able to stay warm during the winter depending on its body’s lower critical temperature, or LCT. The lower critical temperature is the lowest temperature at which your horse can maintain its core body temperature without using more energy.
Once the outside temperature drops below the lower necessary temperature, its hair coat and regular calorie intake are not enough to keep it warm.
The lower critical temperature of a horse varies according to the temperatures it likes, the amount of body insulation it has (such as how long its hair coat is and how much body fat it has), and whether it lives indoors or outdoors. Because of this, blankets are sometimes beneficial for horses with thick winter coats as well!
Factors That Determine a Horse’s Temperature
We’ll help you decide what’s best for you and your horse! The decision to blanket your horse will depend on its coat, living conditions, age and digestive health, physical condition, and the coldest temperature it can withstand, among other factors.
Therefore, like most things in the world of horses, the short answer to the age-old debate over whether or not to blanket is, “it depends.” Every horse is unique. Thus, while deciding whether to blanket them, one should also consider their specific needs (and not just the fact that the owner is cold!).
We’ll go through the five key factors that affect your horse’s ability to stay warm and how each one influences your decision to blanket your horse.
Seasonal Coat Horses’ winter coats become longer and coarser than their summer ones due to fewer daylight hours. The horse’s hairs stand on edge when the temperature drops to form a barrier that traps warm air near the body and insulates it from the cold.
In their natural state, horses with a thick winter coat are probably safe to ride. Unquestionably, horses with “show coats” that are exceedingly smooth or have been through cropping will need a blanket to be warm.
Access to the shelter can help horses cope with the toughest winter conditions. Likely, horses with stalls or other forms of permanent housing will just require their winter coat. Using a waterproof sheet or blanket will keep horses unable to shield themselves from the elements, warm and dry.
Horses’ physiological systems, especially their digestive and immune systems, degrade in effectiveness as they age. One of these systems can thermoregulate, essentially keeping the core temperature constant. One technique for helping elderly horses maintain their body heat is to blanket them with the proper quantity of fill or weight of blanket to prevent overheating.
The State of the Body
You can measure how easily a horse can regulate its body temperature by its overall fat cover, sometimes referred to as body condition. Simple-care horses or those with healthy body fat have a higher chance of surviving without one.
Giving a blanket to hard keepers, also known as naturally slender horses, is a great idea because they usually expend additional energy just to get warm.
Geography and LCT
The temperature below which a horse can maintain its core temperature without using any additional energy is the lower critical temperature or LCT. Its hair coat and the usual number of calories It consumes are no longer enough to keep It warm when the temperature drops below that LCT.
Horses that live in warmer climates generally “get dressed” at lower temperatures than horses that live in colder locations because the temperatures can lower a horse’s LCT.
How Warm Are Horse Sheets and Blankets?
A surprising comparison might help you comprehend the value of warmth: your bed! Consider the materials you use to “dress” your bed. The sheets are fairly thin and don’t offer much heat. On the other side, blankets are thicker and cozier, keeping you warmer.
The same goes for tying up your horse. Horse blankets offer far more warmth than thin horse sheets and light. Horse blankets come in various thicknesses or degrees of heat, much like the ones on your bed.
A blanket’s warmth is in ounces (grams) of fill or “stuffing.” For extra warmth, you can always layer blankets. For instance, if you buy a stable blanket with medium warmth and a light turnout blanket, you can layer the two together to give the stable blanket waterproof protection and extra warmth from the light turnout blanket.
An Equine Blanket Glossary
Because they don’t include any fill, sheets are your horse’s lightest option for clothing (much like the sheets on your bed).
When you hear the word “sheet,” you usually mean a piece of clothing that belongs to the stable category. The goal of stable sheets is to keep the coat clean and provide a thin layer of warmth. Usually, they are of canvas, nylon, poly/cotton, or cotton.
Show open-weave sheets called “scrims” are exceedingly thin and meant to keep your horse clean while you watch events. In general, scrims are more about style than function. They have nylon or poly/cotton fabric with the name of the horse or stable stitched on them.
Anti-sweat sheets, like scrims, have an open weave that enhances ventilation and reduces sweat buildup. They are of 100% cotton or a poly/cotton blend to help wick away moisture. Anti-sweat sheets are a great option to keep your horse clean while it cools off after a hot summer ride.
Designed to protect your horse from irritating insects, fly sheets are lightweight, breathable, and durable enough to withstand turnout. Some fly sheets provide UV protection, while others might have an insect repellent coating to make them even more effective at keeping out bugs.
Rain sheeting offers a waterproof covering for your horse and equipment. When the indoors are separate from the barn, they function effectively at stables or horse exhibitions. Traditional rain sheets frequently reach from the horse’s top of the tail to the poll, but turnout is not the time to use them because they are not particularly secure.
Like rain sheets, turnout sheets feature a special coating that renders them completely waterproof. Unlike rain sheets, turnout sheets are relatively safe and designed to stay in place as your horse gallops through the field. Some blanket manufacturers refer to turnout sheets as “light turnout blankets” since they serve a similar purpose (lightweight waterproof protection.)
Dress sheets are elegantly made fleece, wool, or wool-blend sheets that combine style and practicality. They keep your horse warm (and looking wonderful) on chilly horse show mornings, wick away moisture as it cools off, and may use as a blanket liner for additional warmth in arctic conditions.
The purpose of quarter sheets, which have fleece or wool, is to cover your horse’s hindquarters while you are riding and wrap them around your legs. Many riders like to wear quarter sheets solely during the warm-up on lengthy, frigid trail rides, while others prefer to wear them the entire time.
They come in two varieties: square and fitted. Loose square coolers that hang just below the belly cover your horse from the poll to the top of the tail. The terms “dress sheet” and “fitted cooler” are frequently used interchangeably because fitted coolers are closely fitted and resemble stable sheets.
None of the cut coolers are of fleece or wool, which wicks away moisture and keeps heat. This prevents horses from becoming damp and chilly after cooling down from winter riders.
Stable blankets have a fill, much like a comforter on a bed, and resemble stable sheets in appearance and construction. By selecting from a range of weights that provide varying levels of warmth, you can outfit your horse according to the weather.
Stable blankets are used when the horse is in the stall because the exterior material is not waterproof. Some horse owners will cover the stable blanket with a turnout sheet for waterproof protection when the horse is outside.
Combine the coziness of a stable blanket with the waterproofing of a turnout sheet. Like stable blankets, turnout blankets are available in a range of weights to account for seasonal temperature variations.
Their outer material has a waterproof covering and a breathable membrane to keep your horse comfortable and dry under the wettest winter conditions. Some manufacturers in Europe refer to turnout carpets as turnout blankets.
A blanket’s fill, also referred to as “stuffing,” is in grams. A thin blanket, also called a “sheet,” contains no stuffing. Medium-weight blankets typically have a fill weight of 5.3 to 7.9 ounces (150 to 225 grams). The fill weight of certain ultra-heavyweight blankets is 14.1 ounces (400 grams). Weights for heavyweight blankets range from 8.8 to 13.1 ounces (250 to 370 grams).
A unit of density for nylon fibers, denier evaluates the strength of the outer cloth on horse blankets. Similar to fill weight, denier varies greatly from blanket to blanket. In comparison to a blanket with a lower denier, like 600D, one with a higher denier, like 1200D, is more durable and water-resistant.
Rip-avoid nylon’s checkerboard weave helps to stop tiny tears from growing into bigger ones, allowing you to patch a small hole rather than purchasing a new blanket.
The original purpose of ballistic nylon was to make bulletproof jackets. Although they can resist a lot of abuse, ballistic nylon turnout blankets cannot deflect bullets.
Because the outer cloth is frequently quite robust and needs to survive the elements, many blankets have liners that are kinder to your horse’s skin. Mesh linings help the coat shine, while nylon and poly/cotton linings increase airflow and moisture management. Linings made of cotton or cotton/poly are absorbent.
This turnout blanket style has a trim that extends much higher up the horse’s neck, offering improved weather protection.
Neck Cover/Neck Rug
Neck rugs and covers are of the same material as turnout blankets. You should fasten on them for more thorough coverage. Many owners adjust their horses’ level of warmth and protection with neck rugs as the weather changes.
Like neck rugs, hoods are distinct objects they can wear for extra warmth. Hoods, made of the same material as stable blankets, cover the horse’s face in addition to its neck, unlike neck rugs, which only do so.
Although there are many various front closure designs, the following are the most common:
Buckle-fronts are typically nylon straps with a metal buckle, similar to a standard belt buckle. It also offers a wide range of movable options.
Also known as “T-locks,” surcingle closures function similarly to those on the belly of the blanket; two metal pieces interlock to keep the blanket closed. They are on the front of the blanket.
A “quick-clip” is any metal snap or clip fastener that you can open and close with one hand. Especially helpful if you regularly put and take off blankets. It is easy to use with gloves, which is fantastic in the cold.
Usually cut somewhat higher on the neck, V-Front blankets fasten less firmly across the chest, alleviating pressure while the horse is lying its head down.
Because closed-front blankets don’t have a chest opening, and the horse must wear them over the head. The streamlined, custom fit lessens bunching and friction.
The second piece of fabric is at the shoulder area of gusseted blankets to provide a large range of motion.
Rubbish at the withers, a common problem for many horses, might reduce with foam or fleece cushioning.
Horseware Ireland’s exclusive Leg ArchesTM trim the blanket’s edge back around the legs to allow unfettered movement without the blanket getting in the way or rubbing.
The surcingle is the belly strap(s) that tightly secures the blanket. There can be one to three surcingles on sheets and blankets, with two being the most common. More surcingles on the blanket will increase its likelihood of staying put.
These straps crisscross across the horse’s back legs to provide stability and keep the blanket from riding up or shifting.
Tail Cover/Tail Flap
To help keep frigid gusts at bay, wrap the tail area with fabric, usually reaching the tailbone.
To secure the animal’s tail, this cord ties the blanket’s back ends together and tucks it under its tail.
Common Blanketing Issues and How to Fix Them
Finding a blanket that fits your horse’s needs is essential because horses come in all different shapes and sizes and blankets have a wide variety of cuts, features, and patterns. We have a lot of expertise in choosing the ideal blankets because we are a company of riders and horse owners, whether for our horses or other riders like you.
We’ve outlined the typical problems we hear about and how to fix them. We know it can be difficult to determine which blanket will have the perfect attributes for your horse. We can assist you with any problems you may be having, including shoulder rubs, wither issues, and the best neck style for your horse.
Your horse is a well-muscled Quarter Horse, paint, or other stock horse breed, based on what you can observe. Some blankets may be excessively tight in the chest, shoulders, hindquarters, and withers because of the shape of your horse’s body.
What you’re seeing: You could also discover that some blankets hang too low.
Look for: Blanket designs like Rockin’ SP and Big D, as well as blankets with the following characteristics:
- Trim the wither: Trimming the wither will relieve strain on your horse’s wither region and avoid itchy rubs.
- Broader fit: To fit stock horses, some blankets have a broader fit through the chest, shoulders, and hindquarters.
- Shorter drop: Look for a blanket that has a shorter drop if you find that conventional cut blankets are too long on your stock horse.
- Your horse has high withers. Thus conventionally cut blankets exert too much strain on them, causing rubbing and pain.
What you’re seeing: You might also observe that they don’t fit snugly around your horse’s neck, leaving a space between the blanket and the animal’s body through which chilly air, rain, and snow can enter.
Look for: Blankets with higher neck styles or additional padding at the withers. When shopping, keep the following qualities in mind:
- High neck: A high neck design gives superior weather protection and relieves pressure on the withers.
- Combo neck: Like a high neck, a combo neck relieves pressure on the withers. Additionally, it provides poll-to-tail coverage to shield your horse from the wind, rain, and snow.
- Wither relief: To prevent rubbing, padding at the withers can help lift the blanket off the wither.
What you’re seeing: Your horse is a well-muscled Warmblood-type or another stock horse breed like a Quarter Horse or Paint. Some blankets may be excessively tight in the shoulders and hips because of the shape of your horse. When your horse moves around, this creates pressure points that result in unpleasant rubs.
Look for blankets with the following characteristics;
- Gussets: Gussets are additional fabric pieces sewn into a blanket to enable a more liberal fit and a wider range of motion. Although gussets at the shoulders are more typical, you can also get blankets with gussets at the back legs.
- V-front closure: V-fronted blankets are slightly higher over the shoulder and neck and come together lower on the chest, helping to reduce some of the traditional pressure points.
What you are observing: Your horse is rough on its blankets which causes rips and tears in its blankets regularly.
Look for: Consider purchasing a blanket with a warranty, and take into account the following characteristics that affect a blanket’s toughness:
- Denier: The most popular method for determining a blanket’s strength is to use denier, a unit of measurement for nylon fiber density. A blanket with a higher denier is stronger than one with a lower denier. Therefore, the higher the denier, the better if you have a horse known for being hard on blankets!
- Weave: The blanket’s weave describes the pattern and degree of tightness with which the fibers of the blanket’s material knit together. The ripstop weave helps stop rips from spreading once they begin, and the ballistic weave, created for use in bulletproof vests, is two strong weaves to look for.
- Fabric: The most popular materials used to make sheets and blankets are nylon, polyester, a blend of nylon and polyester, or polypropylene. Consider blankets with outer shells composed of either nylon or polypropylene, as they are stronger than polyester.
Considering your horse’s surroundings, what is the temperature in the stable like? Is there no shelter, or will it be outside and have a good run-in? If a horse is in the stable overnight, it will require a stable blanket, followed by a waterproof liner or insulated turn-out sheet during pasture time, with the fill/denier getting thicker as the weather worsens.
Another fundamental guideline or “best practice” is to never let your horse out with a moist coat since it will go numb to the bone and become ill. It is comparable to leaving your house with damp hair and going for a walk in the bitter cold. After every ride, let your horse cool off and dry off!
When the weather changes, which it regularly does in the fall and spring, someone must be available to change the blankets in the closet. Beware of over-blanketing, which can lead to overheating and heat stress and is dangerous and considered a welfare issue.
If you’re unsure or won’t be able to replace it if the weather suddenly warms up, it’s best to choose less fill rather than more.
It’s important to take the blanketing guide for horses seriously. You must keep an eye on the weather and make advance plans. The bottom line is that to choose the best blankets, you must do your research, consider your situation, and assess your horse’s requirements.