Q: With winter coming, should I blanket my horse?
A: Blanketing a horse is necessary to reduce the effects of cold or inclement weather when:
- there is no shelter available during turnout periods and the temperatures or wind chill is below 5°F;
- there is a chance the horse will become wet (i.e. rain, ice, or freezing rain);
- the horse has had its winter coat clipped;
- the horse is very young or very old;
- the horse has not been acclimated to the cold (i.e. relocated from a southern climate); and
- the horse has a body condition score of 3 or less.
Keep in mind a horse will continue to develop a natural winter coat until late December; and blanketing before late December will decrease a horse's natural winter coat. Horses, given the opportunity to acclimate to cold temperature, often prefer and are better off outdoors.
By Marcia Hathaway, PhD, and Krishona Martinson, PhD, University of Minnesota