It’s That Time of Year

Blanketing is a trigger for many horse people. After years of being around horses, I find that everyone develops their own strategy to go about it – and many of them become very particular for their horse’s blanketing pattern (me included).

Historically, I have always had horses with full body clips in the winter, so my blanketing scheme is very established. Since I live on property with Justin, I’ve always been very hands on with what he’s wearing, which just encourages my obsessive hands on nature.

I’m a ‘less is more’ kind of person. I’d rather Justin be a little chilly than hot, so if I can’t tell what temperature it will actually be, or I have to be gone all day, i’ll go lighter in my blanketing.


Justin has entirely too many blankets… I’m a hoarder, and every year I somehow convince myself hat he needs another type of blanket. He has multiple sheet sets, mediums, heavys, coolers… It’s really problematic, but it let me come up with a blanketing scheme like this for him body clipped:

  • 50’s: Sheet
  • 40’s: Medium
  • 30’s: Medium blanket, medium hood
  • 20’s and below: Medium blanket x 2, medium hood

I basically followed this, though I altered it from day to day to take in other factors as I obsessively check my weather app nearly each hour of the day. Y’all I’m really weird. I took blanket obsession to a new level.

This winter brings an entirely new problem for me. Justin will not be clipped (although he was at the start of October, and all traces of that are gone), and he is full woolly mammoth mode.

The other horses on the farm who are unclipped lead an anti-blanket lifestyle, and this is what I’ve done with Justin so far. We follow the belief that blanketing a horse with a full coat can compress their coat, which compromises insulation. My plan is to let him generally continue to be feral unless it gets unduly cold or wet.

Snow Day  (96 of 164)

Justin is turned out 24/7 but has access to a run in shed. He seems to love living outside in he elements (see above, pony enjoys rolling in the snow).

This year will be a little challenging for me. It’s already hard enough to let him enjoy his downtime, but now I’ve got to leave the blankets alone too? It’s going to be a long winter.

Also just for fun, this is what happens when Justin is allowed to be naked and it rains:


“Mom, that dust spot I’ve been rolling in for months was finally filled with mud!!”

What are you thoughts about blanketing? Are you as obsessed as I am? 



15 thoughts on “It’s That Time of Year

  1. Hillary H. says:

    I’ve always clipped my horses in the winter or if I didn’t they still got sheets and blanketed depending on the weather if it was going to be wet.

    Because Luna is a baby I tend to avoid blanketing her. She’s really fuzzy but she does have a blanket for super cold or cold and wet nights. Blanketing seems to be really person and horse dependent on if the horse is super sensitive and how often the blanket can be changed etc.


  2. sarahczspots says:

    All of my guys are in full winter fluff (or as full as they get…some have a lot of extra body fat and grow less fluff of the hair variety) so I don’t do blankets for the most part. Copper does tend to be hard to keep weight on in winter/has less body fat, so if it will be wet + below freezing he gets to wear a turnout. If it is below 26 (wet or dry) he gets the same turnout. I only have the one blanket, and If its outside of those parameters he goes naked. He has free choice hay and a run in (though he doesn’t use it) plus his paddock has very little wind because of a nearby wooded area. I’m definitely a blanket minimalist with my fat mares, they all seem fine with their all natural fluff. 😉 If I could get Copper as fat as they are, he’d be naked as well.


  3. Karen M says:

    Eli is in a stall at night, and the barn gets mostly closed up. I don’t clip him either, and he hates wearing clothes. He gets a sheet if it’s going to be in the 40s for more than an hour, and a blanket if in the 30s. He’ll get something thrown on him tonight, since it’s going to be in the 40s through most of the night and even the 30s early in the morning, but I haven’t decided sheet or blanket. I think in general it’s way easier for horses down here to get too hot than too cold. I also need to find my Irish knit for after rides! I have this conversation every night November – March with anyone at the barn who will listen: are you putting on a sheet? how cold is it supposed to get tonight? should we close the windows?


    • shelbyrallen says:

      haha yes in winters past when I’ve been in boarding barns I feel like my conversations were constantly revolving around blankets! Does Eli grow a lot of coat? I’m always surprised each year with how fuzzy Justin gets – even when I lived in GA!


      • Karen M says:

        Eli doesn’t get too furry, but he is a FURNACE. He just doesn’t get cold easily at all, I don’t think.

        After that blanket study came out about how horses could be taught to signal about whether they wanted to be blanketed, at first I thought it would be cool to teach Eli, but I think he would abuse it … like, no I do not want to be blanketed right now, but you need to come back at 3am to put my sheet on, and then come back again at 6am to take it off, thanks.


  4. stampyandthebrain says:

    I’m super light on blanketing evidently! My horses are in stalls besides their short amount of turnout. They have dutch doors and I close P’s with lows below 35 and Stampede below 25.
    I go based on the low at night
    45+ naked
    35+ cotton sheet
    25+ turnout sheet
    10+ 100 gm turnout blanket
    Below that 100 gm blanket + 100 gm liner.


  5. emma says:

    i’ve generally felt like most horses do just fine with most people’s own personal regimens for blanketing. perhaps just being consistent is more important than the actual thresholds between temperatures and layers? (esp as those thresholds seem to be very region-specific)

    anyway tho, i’m in the same situation as you: my circumstances now are different than they were when i settled on my previous routine, and now i’m trying to figure out how to adapt. my last mare was pretty darn hardy and did well with a ‘less is more’ approach. she wasn’t clipped, and while she didn’t grow a ton of coat she never seemed to get too cold.

    the new guy tho… he *is* clipped (partially) and is also just enough on the thin side that i’d rather avoid him shivering off any weight unnecessarily. but i’m still not very comfortable with the idea of him sweating under a blanket and he sweats easy so…. yea. i’m trying to figure it out as i go haha


  6. carey says:

    Cosmo’s blanketing scheme is pretty much the same, except it really only applies to overnight, and it doesn’t get below 30 here, so he maxes out at a medium blanket.


  7. Tracy - Fly On Over says:

    Normally I full body clip, but this year I just did trace clips. I typically do:

    55°-40°: Sheet
    40°-25°: Medium Blanket
    25°-10°: Heavy Blanket
    Under 10°: Liner + Heavy Blanket

    This varies some, depending on when the coldest temp is, since my horse is stabled overnight, and it’s at least 10° warmer with no wind chill in the barn. I also adjust slightly based on the horse. My gelding can be blanketed up a bit, as he doesn’t tend to get hot and he lives on an end stall. The mare I half-lease would prefer to be a bit under-blanketed, since she gets hot.

    Liked by 1 person

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