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Archive for the ‘Winter Blanket’ Category

We are doing our annual spring cleaning of the barn and tack room and have discovered much horse tack that needs to find a new home. Most of it is brand new or used only once for a photo shoot.

If you are looking for bits, bridles, trailer boots, blankets, sheets, scrims and much more…………..browse our tack shop for great bargains on high quality items.

courbette-8100-350w   TB10-trailer-woof-1    HI-scrim-navy-81-500w

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When we were driving into town and back yesterday, I was checking out all the horses on pasture with turnout blankets, some good, some OK, some really downright awful. In a few cases, I wanted Richard to stop the car so I could either go adjust the blanket or take it off the horse before it became hopelessly tangled!

One horse in particular has had the same blanket on in the same remote pasture since late fall and I really doubt it has been attended to since then !

I know none of you would do that, but just in case you have friends that need some blanketing advice, I have quite a few winter blanket tips on my Horse Information Roundup under the heading Horse Clothing

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Hi Cherry,

This past fall with the start of the dry weather I started shocking my horse when I would touch him or brush, which caused him to jump and me to jump as well.  It even happened one day when I kissed him on the nose.
When I started to blanket him during the cold weather in December, every time I took/ take his blanket off there is a large amount of static electricity, so he now jumps from his blanket being taken off also.  I have resorted to rubbing him with dryer sheets, as I slowly peel off his blanket and use Static Guard on his blanket right after I remove it.
This is a wonderful horse, who is now jumpy when I touch or give him treats with my open hand and to date we have not shocked one another in about 6 weeks, any suggestions on how to get his confidence back?
Thank you, Bridget

Hi Bridget

During dry weather, when you vigorously groom a horse or remove his blanket, static electricity can make a loud snap and cause a stinging zap that can make a horse blanket shy or spooky to your touch.

When a horse’s hair coat is very dry and fluffy, it is more likely to zap. Natural oils insulate the hair shafts and cut down on zapping – that’s one reason I minimizing bathing (which removes natural oils) and why I emphasize currying which stimulates the production of oil and distributes it to the ends of the hairs.

I’ve also found that various blanket and sheet materials work differently in different climates. Here in semi-arid Colorado, certain nylon sheets and blankets with nylon or fleece linings generate more static electricity than cotton sheets or blankets with wool linings. But this can vary according to the temperature and humidity in YOUR barn.

No matter what blanket or sheet I use, when removing it, I DON’T slide it across the horse’s hair coat, which could create static electricity. Instead, I lift the blanket UP and off. To avoid a zap at the moment I separate the blanket from the horse – I do it one handed. I remove the blanket with one hand and keep my other hand free of the horse’s body and the blanket. That way, I don’t complete an electrical circuit and my horse doesn’t get zapped.

I have a short video clip on my DVD “101 Horsekeeping Tips” that shows that.

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Winter Blanketing
©  2011 Cherry Hill
www.horsekeeping.com

Most horses begin shedding their summer hair in August and start growing thicker winter coats. In order to produce a dense, healthy coat, a horse’s diet should provide an adequate quantity and quality of protein. A normal winter coat has as much insulating capacity as most top-of-the-line blankets. The downward growth of the hair coupled with the stepped-up production of body oils makes the winter coat shed water and keeps moisture away from the skin. A dry horse has a much better chance of remaining a healthy horse.

A fuzzy winter coat can be deceiving if a visual inspection alone is used to assess condition. The round teddy-bear look can fool one into thinking a horse is in proper flesh. Feel the rib area for its flesh covering at least once every 30 days throughout the winter to monitor a horse’s condition.

Some horses may require the use of a blanket throughout the winter: the show horse, the clipped horse, the southern horse that moves north during the winter, the old horse, and the horse in severe weather with no shelter. Blanketing is a more expensive and labor-intensive alternative to winter care than the au natural approach but affords some benefits as well.

Miller's Haversham USET Stable Blanket

Good quality blankets are costly and often several must be purchased for each horse. Generally a quilted nylon type is used in the barn. The waterproof canvas-type with wool lining is one of the traditional turnout rugs as it is weatherproof and durable, but is very heavy. There are many tough turnout blanket available today that are lighter weight and easy care.

Rambo Classic Midweight Turnout Blanket

Blankets must be cleaned at least twice during the winter by washing in cold water with a mild soap. Dry cleaning solvents will destroy waterproofing and can shrink the bindings. Blanketed horses must be meticulously groomed on a regular basis to minimize rubbing and rolling. Horses are notorious for inflicting damages to their blankets. Some exterior shells are not tough enough to withstand rubbing, rolling and roughhousing from herdmates. Blanket repair is just a fact of ownership.

Proper blanket fit is paramount. Blankets that are too small can cause rub marks and sore spots on the withers, shoulder, chest, and hips. Extra large blankets have the reputation of slipping and twisting, possibly upside down which can cause the horse to become dangerously tangled. Blanket linings must be of a smooth material to prevent damage to hair, especially the mane near the withers and the shoulder points.

Overheating can be a real problem with blanketed horses. Often horses are turned out to exercise in the same blanket which they wore all night. What is appropriate for low night-time temperatures in a barn is not necessarily desirable for a sunny paddock, even though there still may be snow on the ground. An unblanketed dark horse has the capacity to absorb much of the sun’s energy.

Water-proof blankets do not allow for heat escape from normal body respiration unless they are also breathable. Too many layers can cause the horse to sweat, then chill which lowers the horse’s resistance by sapping the horse’s energy. This is an open invitation for respiratory infections. Check for over-heating by slipping a hand under the blanket at the heart girth area. To allow perspiration to evaporate, choose a breathable blanket for your horse. If he lives outdoors, make sure it is waterproof and  breathable.

Horses that have been body-clipped or trace-clipped must be blanketed. Clipping allows a horse to be more easily worked, cooled out, and groomed in the winter months. The first clip may occur in October and may need to be repeated five to six times throughout the winter and early spring. This will depend on the horse’s work, blanketing, and housing.

If a horse is not clipped and/or blanketed, but is allowed to grow a natural winter coat, a different set of rules comes into play. Grooming a long coat often consists of a minimal “dusting” of the hair ends, or no grooming at all. Vigorously currying a winter coat can disrupt the natural protective layer of oils which is essential for protection from moisture. After riding, rub the coat dry with a cloth or gunny sack or allow the horse to roll in sand or dry snow.

Winter presents unique problems for the horse. Paying attention to the horse’s needs will result in a healthier horse in the spring.

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