MAN­AGE­MENT Tips for blan­ket­ing ex­tremely thin horses

EQUUS - - Consultant­s -

Q:I just pur­chased an un­der­weight Thor­ough­bred. The vet­eri­nar­ian says her teeth and par­a­site load are OK and has out­lined a feed­ing pro­gram for her. I have also treated her for lice. How­ever, with the cold weather com­ing soon, I’d like to blan­ket her to help her gain weight. What I’d like to know is how to pre­vent a blan­ket from rub­bing on a horse with a pro­trud­ing spine, hips and high withers. They all stick out quite a bit and I don’t want to make her sit­u­a­tion worse with a blan­ket that rubs and causes sores. Lynn How­land Maple Val­ley, Wash­ing­ton

A:Thank you for giv­ing an un­der­weight horse a sec­ond chance! It sounds like your new girl is lucky to have you, and you have started her on the right path with a vet­eri­nary exam and treat­ment for lice.

I would first sug­gest mak­ing sure your horse will re­ally need a blan­ket. Here at Blue­bon­net Equine Hu­mane So­ci­ety, I al­ways have at least one horse in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion from ne­glect, but I blan­ket only the ex­treme cases. How­ever, I’m for­tu­nate to live in Texas where our win­ters are mild, with the lows rarely sink­ing into even the 20s. I make sure the un­blan­keted horses are ei­ther in stalls or have wind­breaks in the pas­ture be­cause our wind can be fierce, and I make sure they have ice-free wa­ter and plenty of hay to eat.

I would, how­ever, blan­ket an ex­tremely ema­ci­ated horse in the win­ter­time. That would be one whose body0 con­di­tion score is in the range of 1.0 to 2.0---mean­ing that his spine, ribs, hips and shoul­ders pro­trude sig­nif­i­cantly. Horses in the 1.0 range have very lit­tle, if any, fat to pro­tect them from the cold. I would also blan­ket a some­what thin horse if the tem­per­a­tures drop to the lower 20s or teens or if he is older or ill.

I, for­tu­nately, haven’t had an is­sue

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