Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Which Blanket?

The worst of the snow stayed to the west of us, but we got several inches of heavy wet snow mixed with sleet overnight.

Today was one of those blanketing challenge days. With 11 horses to blanket, and variations in age and cold hardiness, it's interesting enough. But today the weather added to the mix - we're starting with temperatures just about freezing, where the horses would ordinarily go out without sheets or blankets, but the temperatures are falling through the day into the low 20sFwith the wind picking up until we're looking at gusts to 30 mph. Tonight we're getting low single digits for temperatures, with very strong winds - wind chills of about -20F. Tomorrow, wind chills will be well below zero all day, so the horses will be staying in.

So it was a day of compromises - some were probably over-blanketed and some were probably under-blanketed - I didn't want anyone to overheat during the morning, but also wanted those who tend to get cold to not get too chilled by the end of the day. So Dawn, who is always cold, went out in her heavy blanket, but with the neck part not fastened, since she's at a good weight. Noble, who is underweight and gets cold anyway, wore his heavy blanket but with the neck fastened up. Joe and Maisie wore fleece coolers under their sheets. Blackjack wore his medium weight blanket - he also has a heavy for very cold weather - he's pretty furry and has his shed to go in. Charisma, Scout, Fred, Fritz, Misty and Sugar went out in their sheets.

With luck, that'll do the trick!

10 comments:

  1. Brr! Wow, that's a lot of blanketing to do! Thanks for the tip on backing over ground poles. We actually started working a few months ago on backing off a small step, since I finally realized that I'm fairly certain Mosco's trailering issues stem from his fear of backing out. I wished I'd figured it out sooner! But it's been nice to see him go from fear & anxiety about backing off a small step to total relaxation & calmness. At the beginning he reminded me of a teenager learning to back into a parking spot. Peering over his shoulder many times to be sure everything was still where he thought it was!

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  2. I'm having a similar problem here, it's in the high 50s F during the day and raining, then dropping below freezing at night. I don't want to leave blankets off and have wet horses, but I also don't want anyone to overheat. I wish the weather would just pick a season already!

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  3. Ouch, sounds cooold! We don't need to rug (blanket) but I admire your routine, that's some work to do.
    I hope it warms up or at least that bitter wind drops!

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  4. 11 horses to blanket sounds like a challenge in of itself. I don't tend to blanket Baby Doll in our typical dry snowfalls and winds under 35 mph. But that blizzard pelted ice, sleet and cold rain with 80+ mph winds and my mare was getting soaked to the skin, so I blanketed with her thin waterproof sheet just to keep her dry. And she ate herself happy to keep warm :)

    ~Lisa

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  5. Blanket roulette is more like it. I have some super lightweight blankets I tend to use in "iffy" weather, covering them with a waterproof sheet when it's really bad and then just taking that off as the weather moderates. At least I only have three boys and am home here most of the time to change their clothes should need be.

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  6. Kate;

    We're with you here in middle Tennessee. I detest choosing blankets and I know Melissa feels the same. Between rain, wind and temperature changes (from near 60 degrees to 20 tomorrow night and then back) we're having plenty of practice this week too.

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  7. Stories like these are a large part of what keeps me from making the decision to blanket my horse. It's much easier on me when I let him grow his own winter coat. :)

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  8. I find blanketing fascinating. Especially the variation between different barns and different parts of the country.

    When I lived in Chicago, none of the horses I was aquainted with were every blanketed. (Most were turned out during the day, stabled at night.)

    The barn I rode at in high school in Texas blanketed if it was below 40.

    The winter I lived in Kansas, the horses I was riding never got blankets and all were out 24/7, including several elderly draft mares. (The one exception was an orphan foal, who was stabled). And it gets cold in Kansas! They always seemed happy and always felt warm, even when they had a layer of snow sitting on their backs!

    The horses I work with now (in Texas) are out 24/7. If it gets cold (20s or 30s) (and often also windy) we blanket the old timers. We have 6 right now that are late 20s or early 30s and the blankets help them stay comfortable.

    I think (for the most part) a young healthy horse is happy turned out without a blanket, as long as they have adequate shelter, free choice hay and water, and have been allowed to grow a winter coat.

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  9. Mary H - I'm with you on blanketing - the problem we have is that our pastures and dry lots haven't got even the slightest bit of shelter from the wind or elements, and the winds here can be fierce - even the young furry horses become very chilled since their coats can't hold the heat, and the old ones are really uncomfortable.

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  10. Shelter makes all the difference, doesn't it?

    It isn't that cold here, 30s and 40s right now. But the horse rescue sits up on a bit of a hilly, and we get awful wind. (Good for the wind turbine, bad for the horses!) The old horses alternate their time between the run-in sheds and the round bale.

    I think they are much more bothered by the wind than by the cold.

    I can see why yours are happier in their winter blankets!

    Mary

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