Blanketing/rain sheet for a horse thats older and a hard keeper yes/no

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by WIChookchick, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. WIChookchick

    WIChookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 25, 2010
    Rural Brooklyn, WI
    My friend has a horse that is a hard keeper, I do the blanketing and also feeding when he has weekend drill and graining.
    In wet weather the horse wears a lined rain sheet, and a thin cotton sheet as it doesn't wick moisture away after days of constant rain...
    We have snow now, and the more on the way. he has access to a deep run in shed. And has a good winter coat, but not real reall thick.

    On days there is no rain, or snow, I know my friend would like him with out the blanket.
    My thoughts are that it get super windy around there, and he will get extra hay. And grain several days aweek.
    I think he should have a lighter rain sheet on, or a quilted blanket for the below zero days.
    What are your thoughts.


    I had just taken off his blanket and cotton sheet after icy rains for 2 days, so his coat is a little flat.
  2. herfrds

    herfrds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2010
    I would say yes.
    Had a 20+ old horse. Kept the blanket on her all the time though.
    It was water proof so the water was not sitting on her at all.

    Is the horse getting Senior Equine feed?
  3. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    I have a 1987 QH mare who is a hard keeper. Now, granted it is much warmer here in Alabama, but we still get many nights of below-freezing weather. Any time the thermometer dips below freezing, she gets a heavy blanket. Day or night. We get a lot of cold wind, too, and without that blanket, she shivers. I do not feed an Equine Sr-type feed. I have found that she is not willing to eat the amount of Equine Sr it would take to match the bag recommendations. I feed her Omolene 200 and many days, I'm lucky if she eats half of it. However, she ALWAYS cleans up every scrap of hay, so I am probably feeding her 30 lbs of hay or better a day. In addition she has daytime access to a field that is sown in bermudagrass and oversown with annual rye, so she has good grazing. Even with all of this, she still tends to be thin all winter and in the summer she is not what I would call fat.

    I think it is just the nature of the inefficiency of an old horse's stomach at this point. But she seems content and as long as she does, I will continue what I am doing.


  4. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer Premium Member

    May 11, 2010
    These old timers deserve a little extra care. If a horse is shivering I blanket him or her.
  5. HopeMissouri

    HopeMissouri Out Of The Brooder

    My 29yo Spotted Saddle Horse has never been blanketed. I watch him, but I've avoided blanketing him as it crushes their coats, reducing their ability to insulate themselves. (I think of their coats as their down jackets. They need their puffy coats, filled with warmed air to aid in warming.)

    To keep him warm from within, I feed him Triple Crown or Purena Equine Senior (complete) feeds. Right now it's 6 cups 2x/day with about a quarter cup of vegetable oil added per my vet's recommendation to aid digestion. As much as possible I keep him in paddocks that have green (more tender) grass under the leaves and in the treeline as he has difficulty chewing dried grass and hay. He does get a generous amount of chopped alfalfa and timothy hay that he is able to chew. The digestion process of the hay aids in keeping him warm from within. He does take advantage of the barn run-in for shelter from the wind and rain.

    These old guys have to be watched and their diets adjusted as needed. I'm not opposed to blanketing, but will postpone until absolutely necessary. Last year he did fine in the snow and sustained sub-freezing tempertures. I've seen him standing with the younger horses sharing their warmth. They're better off without blankets.

  6. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    Most older horses have a hard time keeping warm, and a blanket, as long as it doesn't get soaking wet and is properly fitted and adjusted, is a good idea.

    The horse is usually measured by laying a measuring tape at the base of his neck, and from the center of his chest, and back to the center of his hind quarter, with the tape in a straight line on the side of his body.

    Many blankets are made cheaply, and do not fit any horse well, best to avoid the cheapest ones. Measure around the body as the catalogues show.

    Blankets should be removed frequently, and the horse checked for bumps, skin problems and wounds which can be hidden by the blanket. His overall condition and weight should also be checked. The blanket should be checked frequently to be sure it has not shifted, which would indicate the straps should be adjusted, or a strap may be broken. Blankets with leg straps (crossed over between the hind legs to prevent them drooping down) stay in position best.

    Putting a blanket on does flatten the coat some(less with modern blankets especially those with synthetic fill as long as they fit properly), but makes the animal much, much warmer on balance, because it stops air movement next to the coat. When the blanket is removed, the muscles under the skin put the hairs back up.

    A horse is actually far warmer with a well fitted and ventilated rain sheet on, than he is without it.

    If conditions are pulling the heat off him more (rain, wind, wind/rain), he will be markedly warmer with the rain sheet than without it.

    In a stiff wind, at thirty degrees, the effect is like 14 below. At fifty degrees, a stiff wind makes it like 23 degrees.

    Add being wet, and the effect is more. But not if the sheet is wet and not the horse.

    This horse doesn't look extremely thin, or even somewhat thin for a horse that is in work, he does look a little bit too thin for a retired horse. All the same, he doesn't have much 'finish' on him, he looks angular around the hind quarters, which is where many stock breeds show when they are thin or ageing. He looks like a good warm blanket would make him more comfortable.

    Older horses often need to have their teeth done by an equine dentist every six months, and will often need to be wormed every eight weeks, as their resistance reduces with age. Older horses that are being 'run around' by younger horses, or chased away from feed, can lose weight, and sometimes need to be fed alone, or they don't get enough to eat. Older horses are almost always short changed in group feeding situations.

    The trouble is, that cotton sheet under a leaky, soaked rain sheet isn't a solution. Usually even the cheapest turnout can be improved a lot by buying a couple big spray cans of Scotchguard and thoroughly soaking the blanket (dry it completely first, and it works best if the fabric is quite clean, and I THINK...when fabric softener is NOT used in the wash*) with Scotchguard - be especially sure to spray the top of the blanket (above the 'rain line) very heavily with Scotchguard, so the fabric actually darkens and soaks up a lot of Scotchguard.

    If it has a seam along the center line of the back, seam sealer takes only a minute to put on, but the blanket will need to be clean as well as dry first, for the sealer to stick, and it will need to dry longer (I believe it goes on before any Scotchguard). Scotchguard itself won't seal a plain seam, but it will help to prevent the fabric in general from soaking up water.

    *Fabric softener, I was disgusted to learn, has fat in it, and softens fabric by depositing FAT...on the fibres...oh dear...
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  7. ()relics

    ()relics horse/dog shrink

    Jan 4, 2009
    My opinion...If a horse is healthy and has hay available to eat, as long as he is kept dry, doesn't need to be blanketed. Wet weather is a whole different story.
  8. TheSitcomGirls

    TheSitcomGirls Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 17, 2010
    I live in the NE where the weather changes all the time. We lost our mare at age 29 last December, I had her for 18 years. She wore a medium weight Rambo every winter.

    I am a firm believer in blankets for old horses. It helps to keep them from growing a ton of hair which makes spring and abnormally warm winter days intolerable. Old horses get lethargic when they are overheated and they don't want to eat. My old horses seemed to have trouble regulating their temperatures.

    With a blanket I can remove if we have a really warm day and they don't suffer. The blanket helped me to help her. But I only use Rambos. That is because they are breathable, she could wear it on a 50 degree day and a 15 degree day and be comfortable for both of them, and never wet! Rhambo's last forever. She wore her last one for seven years. I finally bought her a new one the year she died because her old one was stretched out in the shoulders. But it was still good and I use it on another horse.

    Plus to keep warm a horse needs to eat and once a horse gets old they just can't chew as much grass hay as fast anymore. Her back teeth had begun falling out so her primary diet was senior food, wet. She really didn't eat much hay anymore. And hay is what horses need to warm up on a really cold day.

    Here she is at 29...just a month before she died. That's about as much hair as I ever let her grow.

  9. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    That picture says a thousand words, all good.
  10. cheryl98117

    cheryl98117 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2009
    Indianola Washington
    Curently I have two equines here with me. Lacy is 6 years old Paint, and a hard keeper. She does not grow a winter coat, so she is blanketed anytime the temps drop below 45*. My daughters Welsh pony on the other hand is a whooly little thing, he gets a rain sheet unless the temps drop into the single didgets, "not very often where I'm at." I also care for a 35 year old Stock bred Quarter horse mare, she is blanketed at temps below 45* at her owners request. The trick is, that each horse is different. I would start with a sheet and feel undernieth to test how warm he is. If he is still cool under the sheet, then move up on thickness/insulation. It mainly boils down to trial and error, and checking for proper warmth. Just remember, that what works for one person/horse, isn't always going to work for you and the horse your concerned about.

    If this boy is as hard a keeper as you say, then yes I would blanket him, but I would also take the time to figure out what blanket works best for him. As you may not need a heavily insulated blanket.

    Don't know if this helps you at all, but I can hope...

    Take care, and good luck!

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