Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Blanketing a wet horse

Recently I had a blanketing snafu that occurred because it didn't get as cold as it usually has to in order for me to blanket, but it did rain and get my horse all wet, which made him shiver. Unfortunately, I'd heard that you should never blanket a wet horse, so I didn't, and probably ultimately caused him a lot more suffering than if I'd just blanketed him when I first found him shivering.

The next day I asked my local tack store owner about it, and she said it was perfectly fine to blanket him when he was damp. She basically said that there's a lot of cr*p out there about caring for horses that masquerades as wisdom, and you should ignore 90 percent of it. While I don't know if that's true, I did a little research on blanketing a wet horse, and this is what I found.

Blanketing a wet horse can cause rain rot, a fungus, which is why you're not supposed to do it. As soon as I heard that I realized I had nothing to worry about. I live in Colorado, for heaven's sake; it's so dry that all the fungus gave up trying to live here, and moved east or west a long time ago.

Blanketing a wet horse with a breatheable blanket is supposed to be okay. Breatheable basically means that the horse can dry, rather than the blanket trapping the moisture against his skin.

Dry your horse with towels as much as possible first. Damp is better than soaking wet, so get your horse as dry as possible before putting the blanket on.

Thatching helps a wet horse to dry underneath a blanket. A solution is to put the blanket on, and then stuff handfuls of hay beneath the blanket. This allows for air circulation over the horse's skin, which helps the horse to dry off. The hay also falls out gradually, leaving a dry horse with a dry blanket on it.

Check on your horse after a couple of hours. Regardless of whether you towel dry or thatch, I recommend checking on your horse after a few hours. If he doesn't seem to be drying underneath the blanket, or if the blanket becomes soaked, you might need to change out the blanket and hang the wet one someplace warm to dry.



At May 6, 2009 at 11:49 AM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

I just wanted to say that the banner you have is so cute! What a shot! I too have a donkey companion for my horse but have yet to capture such a grand shot of them playing! Good job!!!
I don't blanket my horse, have never seen him shiver. We live in southeastern Ohio and get some pretty cold winter weather. Gilly grows a very heavy coat of hair and seems to be just fine.

At May 6, 2009 at 12:15 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Thanks! My brother-in-law took that shot one morning while they were playing. They were both about 21 months at the time and VERY rough-and-tumble together. :o)

I know there are a lot of different opinions on blanketing. Some people say it's not necessary, others believe it is. I take the middle road and only blanket beneath a certain temperature (15 degrees), so that my horse won't lose his winter hair but will also be a little more comfortable in super-cold weather.

However, I think Colorado is probably especially tough for horses, because we don't have consistent temperatures in the winter. This winter has been especially wacky, as we've had 60 degree weather fairly consistently since January, with the occasional snowstorm thrown in. So Panama doesn't have much of a winter coat left, and therefore I think getting wet that night probably chilled him more than it would have otherwise.

At May 6, 2009 at 12:24 PM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

It's a great shot!!! Gilly turned 6 yesterday and Pokey, donkey, is about 20 months old. They play pretty rough too, great fun!
I think that you should do what you think is best for the horse. If he is shivering then he is cold so blanket him. I have seen Gilly with ice in his tail and on his back, yet he is warm as toast if you stick your fingers under his heavy coat. He runs in and out of the barn and is mostly outside. If he ever does seem cold then he will be blanketed too.
Colorado weather does sound crazy! We did have a few warm days this winter but mostly cold, snowy or rainy was the weather. Now we are having rain, rain and more rain! Ack!! I want to ride my horse!!!
~Jane and Gilly~

At May 6, 2009 at 1:06 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I agree -- all horses are different, and you need to do what is best for each individual one.

I don't know if it's because Panama is part Arab, but his winter coat is much finer than other horses -- and I'm talking about pre-blanketing, or even compared with horses who are blanketed in the same way he is. I also suspect from his behavior that he is sensitive to the cold, because he is always the first horse inside the barn!

At May 6, 2009 at 2:12 PM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

Panama does sound like he needs a blanket to keep him warm in winter. Some horses just don't grow heavy winter coats. Blankets are a good thing for fine coated horses.
Your boy is a beauty!!! I love paint horses and Appaloosas. Used to have one of each years ago.
~Jane and Gilly~

At May 6, 2009 at 2:36 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Thanks! I think he's the prettiest horse ever, but I think that's just 'cause I'm Mom. :o)

Seriously, though, he's a picky little thing. He's not stalled now though he has a barn he can go into whenever he wants, and the barn owner says he "puts himself away" in the barn every night. When he was stalled he had a run, but as soon as the weather started getting cold he'd stop peeing outside! I guess two years with no shelter at all, during Missouri ice storms no less, and with only that fine coat as protection, made him appreciate the value of shelter. :o)


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