It’s that time of year again! The weather is changing and the key topic of conversation in the barn is… what blanket should you put on your horse today? To blanket or not to blanket truly is the question! The weather can erratically change from hot to cold and back to hot again without warning. Wind, rain and shine can all happen within the space of a couple of hours which leads to horse owners obsessively checking the weather reports Certainly the thought of swapping blankets during lunch breaks has crossed all our minds, right? Or the temperature is not so bad as you tuck your horse away in its stable for the night, but you are aware the temperature is going to plummet over-night; Do you put a medium weight on now or leave them in a lightweight?! Asking every single other horse owner, friend, professional, and reading online horse forums may help your decision. But they are exhausting and stressful, right?
Unfortunately, there is no gold standard to blanketing a horse, because every horse has individual needs. In fact, veterinarians and researchers are now stating that over-blanketing is a man-made welfare complaint. The change in seasons during the fall and spring highlight our potential over-blanketing due to the unpredictable, mild, wet and muddy conditions Owners are increasingly keen to keep their horses warm and blanketed and by doing so potentially run the risks of horses overheating. So what other factors should be considered when blanketing, other than the weather?
When determining the weight of blanket you wish to put on your horse, be aware of the following factors:
Weight of the Blanket Itself
Each weight of blanket offers different levels of protection. 0 grams or lite weight sheets are the perfect for protection from lite wind, rain and mud in warmth conditions. Medium weight blankets traditionally offer between 150 and 250 grams of fill for additional warmth. This level of fill is generally preferable for temperatures that run between 25-35*F. Heavy weight blankets are those offering fill greater than 250 grams and preferable for very cold, wet and windy climates. Across the WeatherBeeta ComFiTec range, the opportunities for various blanket weights may be found for the perfect level of comfort.
Blanketing in accordance to body score
Horses naturally should gain weight over the summer and loose weight over the winter months, With this natural weight fluctuation, your horse is much less likely to become over weight, which has numerous health implications such as laminitis and equine metabolic syndrome. Overweight horses often require less blanketing as their fat stores will keep them warm when required, whilst also burning excess fat to encourage weight loss.
If your horse is carrying a healthy weight and does not require heavy blanketing, the perfect blanket option is the WeatherBeeta ComFiTec Essential Lite Standard Neck. This blanket offers super strong and durable 1200 denier outer with repel shell coating which is both breathable, lightweight and waterproof.
On the flip side, finer breeds and older horses may require more attention as they tend to not hold weight as well, therefore allowing them to lose weight early in the winter season might make for more feed and inevitably more work during the later winter period. WeatherBeeta offers the perfect happy medium with the WeatherBeeta ComFiTec Premier Trio detach-a-neck, this combination blanket offers a 100g outer shell, providing more protection than a 0g lightweight turnout and is therefore suitable for use in the cooler weather.
The WeatherBeeta ComFiTec Trio comes with a 200g liner which when combined with the 100g outer offers a super warm medium weight blanket., However, if you wish to add more versatility to this blanket, two separate liners are available, a medium/lite 100g and heavy 300g., This blanket can truly carry your horse through the seasons whilst assuring peace of mind for the owner.
Are you going to be clipping out your well-conditioned warmblood, who is ridden five times a week and is stabled over night? Or are you going to be letting your hairy, unbroken 2-year-old native live out for the winter season? Both require two completely different styles blanketing. If a horse is well adapted to their surroundings, with adequate shelter, feed, coat and in good health and condition they should require very little blanketing until the peak of winter.
The WeatherBeeta ComFiTec Premier Free is the perfect safe blanket for turning out, especially for youngsters. Featuring the Full Embrace Wrap for a huggable fit and concealed Ezi-Buckle for safety, available in standard neck lightweight, medium and heavy or detach-a-neck styles in medium and heavy, this blanket gives you the option to add the neck once temperature drops significantly to offer more protection from severe weather and offer extra heat retention.
Horse’s that are fully clipped do require a lot more care and attention, as they no longer can trap warm air amongst their coat and the waterproof capabilities are lost. The most luxurious blanket you can offer is the WeatherBeeta ComFiTec Ultra Cozi, for those who truly require a “cozi-snug” fit! Featuring a Cozi-Guard for unbeatable chest coverage, snug fit to stop rain, wind and cold air from entering the neck of the rug, adjustable belly wrap and full wrap tail flap for complete protection, a 1680 Denier ballistic nylon outer shell with Teflon coating which offers unbeatable strength, and is available in both medium and heavy weight. The ComFiTec Ultra Cozi is sure to keep your horse protected when they need it most!
Ultimately, the question of blanketing has a number of answers! By understanding your horse’s condition and needs, you may best choose the blanket that suits your circumstances.