Q&A Questions and Answers:
When should you put a blanket on a horse, and should you let a horse out a lot in the winter to get exercise?
If left to its own natural defenses, a horse will grow a winter coat that is usually better than anything we could devise. Most of the time, a blanket is used to prevent that natural winter coat from growing -- in order to prolong the show season. The two things that trigger coat development are cold temperatures and reduced light. That's why aggressive show people will leave lights on in the barn as well as blanketing their horses in late summer and fall.
A light, absorbent, blanket is also helpful when cooling down a horse that has worked up a bit of a sweat in cold weather.
Otherwise, unless the temperature is lower than 20 or 30 below (F.) most horses will do quite nicely outside without any blanket. Besides, there's always a risk that a blanket may get snagged or come loose, causing injury to the horse.
As for outdoor exercise in winter, the two things to watch out for are ice on the ground and snow packed into balls over the soles of the horse's foot. Keep some sand handy to throw on icy spots, keep the hooves cleaned out, and provide a run-in for escape from bitter cold or icy weather, and your critters can stay out all winter. Just like humans, the more exercise they get, the better their physical shape.
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COPYRIGHT © 2006 BOB LEMEN, GRAND RAPIDS,
MINNESOTA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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