• How cold is it outside? Obviously the colder the weather, the more blanket might be needed.
• How much wind will enter the trailer? A horse in an open stock trailer will need more protection than one in a closed trailed. Keep in mind, though, that even in cold weather, you’ll want to keep some vents open for fresh air. I used to do that even when shipping to Canada in the winter.
• How much coat does your horse have? A clipped or short, slick coat will require more insulation than a wooly one.
• How nervous is your horse about traveling? One factor many people forget is that standing up in a moving trailer is hard work. Any anxiety in the trailer also increases the amount of body heat a horse will generate and decreases the need for a blanket. The second horse will add even more heat inside the trailer.
The bottom line principle is: Less is more! You will want to give your horse significantly less insulation than he would need to stand quietly outside in the same temperature. When considering that blankets can become dangerous if they rip or shift, my preference is to leave most horses naked, unless they really tend to shiver. If your horse comes off the trailer sweating under his blanket, it was too much. I might also suggest bringing the cooler along in case you need it while waiting for your turn with the farrier.
Dillon is lucky to have someone who takes him to one of the top podiatry centers in the world and who worries over his comfort! I think when you trust your instincts, and then continually reevaluate your choices, you will find success in all you do together.
Melinda Freckleton, DVMHaymarket Veterinary ServiceGainesville, Virginia
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #458, November 2015.