We don't blanket our horses in the winter unless they are clipped. If I clip, it is a trace clip in the areas where they sweat with work. If you ride and the sweat doesn't dry by dark, that's a recipe for a big time chilled horse. This winter none of our horses are clipped. Between my work schedule and the wet winters, I don't expect to ride more than once a week until the spring. Jackson is the exception to our blanketing practice. When the temperatures dip, he loves his blanket. His coat doesn't grow as thick as the others and he doesn't move around as much.
With all the hard frost warnings this week, we thought it prudent to blanket all the horses. Studies show that horses are comfortable without blankets in temperatures of 15F and above. We've seen some reports that say we will hit 12F tonight or Saturday night. With blankets on, the horses are fine in their pastures if it rains or snows. Since the water is turned off in the barn at night to protect the pipes, we want them in the pastures where they have access to their large water troughs. Jackson did a happy dance when he saw Brett coming with his blanket Tuesday afternoon. Flash stood stoically and allowed himself to be blanketed.
Winston was another story. Last winter, he had a trace clip and wore a blanket. He played games at first, refusing to stick his head through and running off with it half buckled. I refused to play and let him get cold that night. (I know, I'm so mean). The next night, he was good as gold and we didn't have another problem with him all winter. Brett brought out the blanket to the pasture and, after a couple false starts, Winston poked his head through the front and let Brett pull it back over his rump. Then he took off, bucking and farting, with the blanket flailing around him. He stepped on it, of course, and ripped off one of the front snaps. Brett retrieved the blanket and we let him chill in the pasture all night.
Last night when I got home from work at 9:30, Brett and I bundled up in our jackets and knit ski hats and went out to the barn. We brought Winston and Mufasa into the barn aisle where we could see with the barn lights on. While Brett put Mufasa in his stall to wait his turn, I held Winston's lead rope in one hand and his blanket draped over the other arm. Winston kept pushing at the blanket with his head, trying to figure out how to put his head through. I made him wait. Then while Brett held the lead rope, I slipped on the blanket and buckled him in.
We didn't have a blanket for Mufasa since he wasn't clipped last winter. I found Winston's mid-weight blanket and thought it might fit. Mufasa was a ranch horse before we bought him so we didn't know if he was familiar with blankets or not. He sniffed it a few times but otherwise didn't mind the blanket being swung up on his back, pulled down around his sides and rump, and then buckled at the front and underneath.
This morning, I looked out the window and saw Mufasa standing in the clover pasture... with no blanket. I scanned the pasture and saw a blue pile of crumpled fabric on the ground. Brett retrieved it while I sat in my car with the heater and defroster going full blast, trying to defrost my windows so I could leave for work. Yes, the display says 19F.
Looking out my driver's side window, the kitchen appliances on the porch almost looked pretty.
The snow will arrive tomorrow.