There are several questions you must first ask yourself when deciding on blanketing your horses:
- Do you live in an area with cold, blustery and wet weather patterns?
- Are your horses accustomed to cold or warm temperatures?
- Do you have an older horse that doesn’t have as high of a metabolism to keep its body warm in colder weather?
- Is your horse routinely clipped or does he have a furry coat?
- Do you have a horse that loves to roll around in the mud more than anything else?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you know just how invaluable a horse blanket can be to solve either of these problems. They are very helpful in managing your horse's health and well-being. Horse blankets and horse sheets are a simple yet economical means of protection for your horse from cold temperatures, rain, snow, manure, and mud. Some blankets are also great for helping to keep pesky insects at bay or blocking potentially harmful ultraviolet rays.
Temperatures below freezing aren’t too much of a concern to a healthy horse provided the sun is shining and there isn’t much wind, which is Public Enemy Number One when it comes to keeping your horses warm. Wind separates the hairs in the horse's coat, allowing heat to escape and windy winter days quickly drain a horse's energy as it constantly has to generate more body heat to compensate for the wind drawing away heat from the body.
When your horse is left out in the rain for an extended period, its coat can lose its insulating loft and be unable to keep the cold air away from the body. It would be similar to standing outside in the cold and rain while wearing wet clothes. They aren't going to offer much protection from the cold temperatures. It is also helpful to own two blankets for every horse if you live in a geographic area which experiences above average rainfall. This way, when one blanket becomes too wet to provide adequate protection, you can switch out to the dry blanket and allow the wet one to dry off.
Even if weather conditions remain constant throughout the day, you'll still want to remove, change or reset the blanket. It allows you to check for any rubs and sores from the blanket; this is actually common in even excellent fitting blankets. Checking the fit of the blanket also allows you to check if dirt is lodged underneath or if your horse is sweating and overheating.
Blanket fit is important, no matter what type of blanket the horse is wearing. Blankets are made to fit a certain size range and a well fitting blanket won’t shift or move around on the horse’s back. A too tight blanket can cause rubs, sores, and blisters. Too large blankets won't fit properly and prove to be inefficient and ineffective. Some blankets come with adjustable, elastic girths, billets, or leg straps which allow for additional room within a chosen size range.
Blankets alone are not adequate protection for horses during periods of miserable weather and certainly not a substitute for a physical shelter like a stable, shed or windbreak, against wind and rain.