Cindy McDonald, Asheville, North Carolina
Send your suggestions for inexpensive horse-care substitutes as well as hints for saving effort and time to Hands On, EQUUS, 656 Quince Orchard Road, #600, Gaithersburg, MD 20878; Fax: 301-990-9015; e-mail: EQLet[email protected]work.com. Senders of published items will receive selected EQUUS merchandise.
Winter weather is still a few months off, but it’s not too early to think about blanketing. Your first decision, of course, is whether your horse will even need one. Although they might appreciate the added warmth, most horses can grow a winter coat thick enough to remain comfortable in freezing temperatures. There are two situations, however, when you need to treat a blanket as a necessity:
• Horses who have trouble maintaining their body weight. A cold horse will burn calories to keep warm and, if he’s not getting enough from his diet, his body will pull from his fat stores to meet the need. A horse who is already on the thin side or one who has a history of losing weight during the cold months is likely to be better off with a blanket.
• Horses who will be clipped. Anytime you remove a horse’s natural protection from the elements, you need to replace it with a blanket. A horse with a low trace clip, which leaves a full coat on the hindquarters, back, neck and most of the loins, may be fine uncovered, especially in more temperate climates. But if you remove much more of your horse’s winter coat, be prepared to blanket throughout the season.