Blanketing's Impact on Horses' Winter Hair Coats

Blanketing's Impact on Horses' Winter Hair Coats

Blankets "flatten" the coat, causing it to lose insulating ability. Once you start blanketing, expect to be on blanket duty all season

Photo: Photos.com

Q. I'm going to be adopting an off-the-track Thoroughbred soon. I live in middle Tennessee about 20 miles from the Tennessee/Kentucky border. I understand that blanketing in the winter has been addressed on the website, but my question is a little more specific: I was only planning on blanketing when the temperature drops under 20 degrees Fahrenheit and in extreme weather. Will this compromise my horse's winter coat enough that I would need to blanket more, or will the insulating capacity of its winter coat be okay?

Kellie Mariah, via e-mail


A. Yes, when horses wear blankets and sheets all the time, it can tend to “flatten” the coat, causing it to lose insulating ability. That doesn’t mean that blanketing this year also means blanketing next year, but once you start blanketing, expect to be on blanket duty all season long. Blanketing only for a few days when a cold snap hits will not be a huge problem, but if the cold persists over a week it is probably a better idea to keep a blanket onespecially a waterproof blanket—since the insulating properties of the horse's coat have been diminished.

About the Author

Carey A. Williams, PhD

Carey A. Williams, PhD, is an Associate Extension Specialist and Associate Professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

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