To blanket or not to blanket? That is the question. There is so much controversy over this topic. And although it may seem that there is a right or wrong answer, it is really a matter of personal preference and each individual situation. The health and comfort of your horse should be the number one priority when making this decision. As with many topics, there are pros and cons. Let’s be different and start with the cons.
It’s costly. Horse blankets can cost a pretty penny. Owning a horse alone can sometimes seem like it’s costing a fortune. Why not eliminate one object that might not be absolutely necessary for your horse? Sure, there are blankets out there that are reasonably priced, but also take into consideration the money needed to clean them, repair them when they get torn or broken and also to replace them when they get too worn.
They can be dangerous. Sometimes horses can get a little rowdy and become entangled in their blankets. This doesn’t seem too common, but it is a possibility. They have straps and buckles that can become loose and get caught on objects while turned out. Having an ill-fitting blanket or one that is not the correct weight can also be dangerous for your horse. Having one that does not fit correctly can cause discomfort and sores on your horse. And having a blanket that is too heavy or too light can cause your horse to become chilled or overheated. Clipping horses as well as placing a blanket on an unclipped horse, therefore flattening his hair, takes away his natural ability to maintain his temperature. In doing so, we must be cautious and make sure that we provide the correct weighted blanket for our horses in an effort to keep him warm.
Timing can be difficult with blanketing as well. If you are responsible for blanketing your own horse, then it is crucial to make sure the blanket comes off if the temperature rises during the day. Keeping a blanket on in warm temperatures can cause your horse to sweat, then causing him to be chilled once the temperatures drop at night. It’s important to make sure you’re available to go take it off or find someone to do it for you, which can sometimes be a hassle.
On the positive side, blankets are great for keeping your horse clean! Isn’t it such a bummer when you show up to the barn for a quick ride and see your horse in the paddock covered in dirt? It’s very frustrating when it takes longer to groom your horse than it does for you to ride. Blanketing your horse prevents this from happening. Horses are usually sparkling clean under their blankets, making for a quick groom job before your ride.
Blanketing allows us to clip our horses. If a horse if regularly exercised during the winter months, then clipping is typically recommended. Having a non-clipped horse sweat during exercise can take a very long time to dry and causes risk of the horse to become chilled in cold weather, which can lead to illness. Clipping is advantageous because it reduces sweating for the horse that is worked regularly, but in turn takes away the horse’s natural protection against the cold temperatures. If clipping is the right decision for your horse, then it necessitates blanketing to make up for the loss of the horse’s natural ability to keep himself warm.
It helps horses keep their weight. In winter, some horses have a hard time keeping their weight due to the number of calories required to regulate their body temperature. Adding a blanket can help them keep their weight by preventing the need to burn so many calories keeping warm.
As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages of blanketing. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Taking the time to do some research and figuring out what is best for you and your own horse is the safest way to go about deciding which route you are going to take.