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Discuss Info on horse blanketing at the Horse Health forum - Horse Forums.

This is from Elaine Nash on Handy Hints for Horses page: Here is some information ...
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    Info on horse blanketing

    This is from Elaine Nash on Handy Hints for Horses page: Here is some information on winter blanketing that may surprise you. This is the result of a multi-year study done by CSU, using state of the art thermal detection equipment. Colorado State University is widely considered to be one of the top three equine veterinary schools in the country: Blanketing horses is one of the worst things that you can do to a horse in the winter. Horses have the ability to loft and lower their coats to 17 different levels, so it's like exchanging 17 different thermal weights of blankets off and on them all day and night, depending on what they need- except that we don't know what they need as well as they do. Their 'self-blanketing' process works a little like 'chill bumps' do in our own skin. That's why long-haired horses may seem fluffier on some days than on others. Only three things make the 'self-blanketing' process not work: blanketing, clipping, and wind. Not even snow or rain stops their own thermostats from doing the job. Also horses are in 'neutral' (meaning not using energy for either heating or cooling) when the air around them is between 26 and 38 degrees. Otherwise, they're using energy to control their temps. So- since they're cooling their bodies when the temp is over 38 degrees, they're having to use extra energy to cool themselves when blanketed in temperatures over that. Any time a horse that is outside and has a long coat is shivering, it's because the horse has opted to shiver to warm itself, instead of using the option of moving. Moving generates a considerable amount of heat for a horse, but they sometimes stand and shiver while napping, etc. It does not mean that they need to be blanketed. However- a horse MUST have a way to get out of the wind in order for their 'self-blanketing' abilities to function fully. It turns out that blanketing is done more for pleasing the human, than to fill a need of the horse. The horse blanket industry has done a great job of making us think that their product is a necessary part of good horsekeeping- when it is actually an item that is very seldom needed. Another often unknown fact is that horses become dehydrated more frequently in the winter than in the summer. The horse feels less thirsty because they're not triggered by heat to drink more water, so the lack of appropriate intake often causes dehydration. A suggestion for this is to offer one or two buckets full of cool-to-tepid molasses-enhanced water per day. 50 lb. bags of crystalized molasses are available by order through feed stores (if they don't keep it on hand), and is easier to work with than wet [sticky] molasses. A 50 lb. bag of dry molasses costs under $20.00 and will last all winter for several horses. Molasses are high in iron, and make a good supplemental addition, in any case. Another little known fact is that horses do not need more feed in the winter than in the summer. In the summer horses are using energy to cool themselves. In the winter they are using energy to warm themselves. Both efforts use similar amounts of energy. In fact, if horses have feed before them for more of the time during the winter, they are less likely to move about, which decreases one of their most efficient heating processes. (Old or unhealthy horses may need extra help keeping warm in the winter just as they need help staying cool in the summer- but even in the cases of these special-need horses, over-blanketing may cause sweating, which can then cause chilling- and more serious consequences.)

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    i'm sorry, if my horse is shivering i'm GOING to blanket him appropriately, even though they have shelter, all the hay they can eat, etc.

    when i do blanket, i use a waterproof breathable blanket and check to make sure they are not too warm, and if they do get too warm i take the blanket off or switch to a lighter gram blanket.
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    CSU has done no such study

    There are many, many things wrong here. I posted a long reply on the COTH thread, if anyone wants to go read that. If you want to know my thoughts, I'll copy/paste.
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    ^^JBR, I'd be very interested in reading your reply.

    And I couldn't imagine NOT blanketing my horse. He's a lighter build, has a fast metabolism burning up his calories - the last thing I need is extra calories being lost due to keeping himself warm. Not to mention he's a big-time shiver-er in the rain.
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    Let's see if this works:

    I have SEEN my fuzzy, dense-haired, healthy horses shivering - not just a little muscle twitch, but full body rolling muscle shivering, when wet to the skin. There is absolutely no fluffing, no 17 degrees of "blanketing", when the hair is laying down on the skin.

    Quote:
    Also horses are in 'neutral' (meaning not using energy for either heating or cooling) when the air around them is between 26 and 38 degrees. Otherwise, they're using energy to control their temps. So- since they're cooling their bodies when the temp is over 38 degrees, they're having to use extra energy to cool themselves when blanketed in temperatures over that.

    Not when it's 40* and they have been wet to the skin for hours and are flat out cold

    Quote:
    Any time a horse that is outside and has a long coat is shivering, it's because the horse has opted to shiver to warm itself, instead of using the option of moving. Moving generates a considerable amount of heat for a horse, but they sometimes stand and shiver while napping, etc. It does not mean that they need to be blanketed. However- a horse MUST have a way to get out of the wind in order for their 'self-blanketing' abilities to function fully.

    I don't know that a horse *chooses* to shiver. They can choose to move, or they can choose not to move, and the latter can lead to shivering.


    Quote:
    It turns out that blanketing is done more for pleasing the human, than to fill a need of the horse. The horse blanket industry has done a great job of making us think that their product is a necessary part of good horsekeeping- when it is actually an item that is very seldom needed.

    I will agree that many people over-blanket, either in temps too warm (ie they need a light jacket, they think the horse needs a sheet, they need a heavy jacket, they think the horse needs a blanket), or with too heavy a blanket (heavy weight when it's 25*). But there are absolutely valid reasons to blanket a horse, for the sake of the horse, and it doesn't even have to be windy OR raining

    Quote:
    Another often unknown fact is that horses become dehydrated more frequently in the winter than in the summer. The horse feels less thirsty because they're not triggered by heat to drink more water, so the lack of appropriate intake often causes dehydration. A suggestion for this is to offer one or two buckets full of cool-to-tepid molasses-enhanced water per day. 50 lb. bags of crystalized molasses are available by order through feed stores (if they don't keep it on hand), and is easier to work with than wet [sticky] molasses. A 50 lb. bag of dry molasses costs under $20.00 and will last all winter for several horses. Molasses are high in iron, and make a good supplemental addition, in any case.

    Horses don't need supplemental iron Molasses IS high in copper though, which many horses could use a bit more of. I think anything you can do to entice a horse to drink more water if he's not drinking enough is a good thing, within reason

    Quote:
    Another little known fact is that horses do not need more feed in the winter than in the summer. In the summer horses are using energy to cool themselves. In the winter they are using energy to warm themselves. Both efforts use similar amounts of energy. In fact, if horses have feed before them for more of the time during the winter, they are less likely to move about, which decreases one of their most efficient heating processes.

    Says who again? My mare absolutely needs more food in the Winter. Not a lot, but she needs more. I would have to feed her even MORE if I did not blanket her judiciously, which is really not a lot

    Quote:
    (Old or unhealthy horses may need extra help keeping warm in the winter just as they need help staying cool in the summer- but even in the cases of these special-need horses, over-blanketing may cause sweating, which can then cause chilling- and more serious consequences.)

    *sigh* it is not just about old or unhealthy horses. I have 3 adults who WILL shiver if they are soaked to the skin and it's 40* outside, let alone colder. They WILL be miserably cold if it's 30 and sleeting. They are not unhealthy, though 1 of them is older. However, he is the one who takes the longest to get to the point of shivering
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    Subsequent post of mine:

    Have you (anyone) ever shivered so hard and so long your muscles were sore the next day? Ever dealt with a horse who spent all Winter with, off and on, muscles that shivered to stay warm? Yeah, let's do that to a horse for the sake of "they don't need a blanket".
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBandRio View Post
    Subsequent post of mine:

    Have you (anyone) ever shivered so hard and so long your muscles were sore the next day? Ever dealt with a horse who spent all Winter with, off and on, muscles that shivered to stay warm? Yeah, let's do that to a horse for the sake of "they don't need a blanket".
    heck, i notice that in myself all the time. when it's cold, i find myself hunching my shoulders up, and my neck/shoulders/upper back end up aching, causing headaches, etc.
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    Seriously, who wants to ride and train a horse who spends 8-12+ hours a night "hunched over"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBandRio View Post
    Seriously, who wants to ride and train a horse who spends 8-12+ hours a night "hunched over"?
    sure as heck not me!! just a mere half hour of me doing it and i just ache... i couldn't even IMAGINE how i would feel after doing it for hours upon hours, day after day..... so, when i see any of mine shivering they are blanketed. if they are wet and shivering them come in the barn, get the cooler until they dry THEN they are blanketed!

    i will also add, out of the 3 of mine and my mom's 3 we had around in the past couple years, only Bob and Colonel are the pansies and need blankets. both are show divas and don't tolerate the cold/damp weather well. all the other horses handle it just fine.
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    Amen lopin.

    it drives me flat UP the wall to hear some folks say a healthy horse won't shiver There are a couple of folks on COTH who are just adamant about that. Makes me insane. I guess none of my horses are healthy then
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