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Why Do Some Horses Wear Blankets? Even in the Summer?

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My grandson and I recently went to the Fairground race track to watch the Risen Star stakes race, and he noticed some horses wearing blankets and some without blankets. Seeing this prompted him to ask me, why do some horses wear blankets and others don’t?

Some horses wear blankets because they don’t tolerate cold weather, and other horses may have their coats clipped or are show horses, and still, others may be covered to protect against sun bleaching, even in the summer. Horse blankets have various uses.

Horse owners choose to blanket their horses for different reasons. A lot of thought goes into determining when a horse should be covered, and there are different styles of horse blankets designed for various purposes.

Picture of a racehorse with bell boots.

Why do horses wear blankets?

Horse blankets are typically used to protect horses during cold weather. Most blankets drape loosely over the horse’s back and have straps to secure the blanket about the horse’s girth and neck region.

The blanket straps should not cause chaffing or hang loose. Horses have a tendency to kick and bite at binding straps. A horse blanket should be easy to remove, clean, relatively lightweight, and durable.

Horse blankets come in lightweight, mid-weight, and heavyweight styles. The heavier the weight, the more warmth provided. It’s essential you choose a blanket made of breathable and waterproof material.

Horse blankets come in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes. Some are designed to cover only a horse’s body while others cover a horse’s neck and head.

Why do horses wear blankets in the summer?

There are many things that people do not understand about horses. One of the most confusing things for people is why some horses wear blankets, even in the summertime. The answer to this question has to do with a horse’s physiology and how it regulates its body temperature. I

Horses are covered in a thick coat of fur that helps to protect them from the elements. In the spring and early summer, this coat of fur can actually work against the horse and cause it to overheat.

Some horse owners use cooling sheets in the summer, these are helpful in wicking the sweat away from their horses’ coats and help to keep them cool. The horse’s body is good at regulating its own temperature, but sometimes it needs help. This is why many horses have a cooling sheet on in the summertime – it helps cool them.

Another reason why horses may wear blankets in the summer is because of their sensitive skin. Horses are prone to sunburn and other skin problems, so a blanket can help to protect their skin from harmful UV rays. Additionally, blankets can help to keep bugs and insects away from the horse’s skin.

Some horses need blankets to keep them warm.

As autumn approaches each year, horses begin growing their winter coat and shedding their shorter thinner hair. A horse’s winter coat is comprised of coarse and long strands that stand up rather than lie flat. It traps heat and insulates their bodies from the cold of winter.

A horse’s digestive system also produces heat that helps to maintain its core temperature. Because digestion creates heat, many owners increase their horse’s hay rations during cold periods.

But sometimes the weather is too cold for a horse’s winter coat and their internal heating system to keep them warm. When the temperature reaches this point, it is time to cover your horse with a blanket.

The temperature a horse can tolerate depends on its breed, thickness of its coat, body condition, digestive health, age, and living situation. Some horses may only need minimum protection, while others will require much more warmth.

HORZE Nevada Medium Weight 1200D Waterproof Horse Turnout Neck Cover Hood (200g Fill) - Black - M

Horse sheets are thin and lightweight, and horse blankets are considerably warmer. Horse blankets come in different thicknesses or degrees of warmth. The amount of fill material determines the amount of warmth a blanket provides.

Sheets to lightweight blankets typically have 0-100 grams of fill. Medium weight blankets have 150-250 grams of fill and heavyweight blankets have 300 and above grams of fill. You can check and compare Amazon’s prices on horse blankets by clicking this link.

Horses with thin coats need blankets in cold temps.

Horses with a good thick winter coat can tolerate cold weather, however, clipped horses or horses with “slicked out” coats need a blanket to stay warm.

  • Horses with their coats clipped horses or horses that are “slicked out” need a blanket to stay warm.
  • Horses kept outside with no shelter to escape from the elements should have either a waterproof sheet or blanket to stay warm and dry
  • Older horses are less efficient in creating body heat and need to be covered with a blanket in cold weather.
  • Horses with low body fat burn excessive calories trying to keep warm, so they should be covered with a blanket in cold weather.
  • Horses from warm climates can not tolerate low temperatures as well as ones from cold climates. Warm weather horses should be blanketed in cold weather.

Waterproof

If you intend to cover your horse when it’s outside, the blanket material needs to be waterproof. A horse covered with a wet blanket will be colder than if he had no blanket at all.

HORZE Glasgow Heavy Weight Waterproof Combo Turnout Winter Horse Blanket with Neck Cover (400g Fill) - Dark Blue - 81

Your horses’ blanket needs to fit correctly.

It’s essential to use the properly sized horse blanket for optimal protection against the elements. To ensure your blanket fits your horse, you need to get some measurements of your horse.

Have someone in front of the horse holding a cloth tape in the center of the horse’s chest, the point where the neck and chest meet. Next stretch the tape across the point of the shoulder to where you want the blanket to end.

Most people stop at the horse’s tail, but some prefer blankets a little shorter. This measurement is your horse’s blanket size in inches.

We used this method to order the HORZE Glasgow Heavy Weight Waterproof Combo Turnout Winter Horse Blanket and the fit was perfect. But if you happen to get the wrong size no worry you can return your blanket with a full refund, no questions asked.

We used the Glasgow turnout blanket quite a bit this winter and found it easy to put on and take off our horses and it was not restrictive or uncomfortable for them.

I’ve done extensive research into the best possible horse blankets and sheets I could find. But it’s always a good idea to get as much information as possible before buying a product.

The following blankets are all highly rated on Amazon. Here are the links so you can read what Amazon customers have to say:

Picture of our horse while Kimberly explains why horses wear blankets.
HORZE Glasgow Heavy Weight Waterproof Combo Turnout Winter Horse Blanket

There are four types of horse blankets

There are four main types of horse blankets that come under two categories: outdoor turnouts and stable. The difference between them lies in their sizes, materials used to make it as well as price range; some can even be custom made for your special needs.

Outdoor-use turnouts are waterproof, durable, and meant to be worn outside; while stable ones aren’t water-resistant but can still keep your horse comfortable when indoors.

Turn-out blankets

Turnout blankets are designed for wearing in paddocks and pastures during cold weather. It’s comprised of a waterproof and breathable exterior encompassing different levels of fill material, so your horse can stay warm and dry.

Cool-down blankets (Coolers)

Coolers are put over a horse after a strenuous work-out in cold weather. They provide warmth while the animal dries. They are typically made of fleece or wool because these materials draw out moisture from the skin and trap heat.

Stable blankets and sheets

Stable blankets are loosely fitted blankets filled like a comforter. They come in different weights so you can provide your horse with varying levels of warmth according to the temperature. It’s not waterproof, because they are meant to be worn when horses are kept inside and out of the elements.

Quarter blankets/sheets

Quarter sheets are intended to be used under a saddle and cover your horse’s hindquarters. They are typically made of fleece or wool. Some riders use quarter sheets just to warm up their horse, while other riders keep them on, especially during, cold-weather trail rides.

Weatherbeeta Micro-Air Cooler Standard Neck 69 Blu

Horse sheets are different than horse blankets.

A horse sheet is a lightweight covering with no filling. Like a horse blanket, they also come in two types: turnout and stable.

Turnout sheets are waterproof and made to be worn when your horse is outside, while stable sheets are not waterproof and are meant to be worn inside. To check Amazon’s prices on horse sheets click here.

Sheets come in many different styles and serve a variety of purposes. The following are some of the more common ones:

Stable Sheets

Stable sheets are typically used to cover a horse after they’ve been cleaned and prepped for a show. They are made from cotton, nylon, or canvas and are lightweight. Stable sheets provide minimal warmth.

Show Scrim

Show scrims are the distinctly thin, open-weave sheets you see draped over horses’ ringside at shows. They typically are designed from flashy-colored material and embroidered with the horse’s name.

Anti-Sweat Sheets

Anti-sweat sheets have an open-weave to allow breathability and reduce sweat build-up. They are typically made from cotton or a poly/cotton blend to help draw away moisture. Anti-sweat sheets are useful to protect your horse’s coat from sun bleaching.

Fly Sheets

Fly sheets are made with lightweight mesh and are breathable. They are designed to protect your horse against aggravating insects. Most fly sheets are made with light, UV rays reflecting colors, and may be treated with insect repellants for extra bug-blocking power.

Rain Sheets

Rain sheets are waterproof covers for your horse and tack. They’re frequently used to protect show horses when they are walked from the barn to the arena during rainy days. They are loose-fitting and can be easily removed.

Turnout Sheets

Turnout sheets are made of waterproof material. They are lightweight and can be secured to a horse with straps so it won’t fall off when it’s playing in the pasture or paddock.

Dress Sheets

Dress sheets are frequently used at horse shows and on race day to keep horses looking their best and keeping warm. They are typically made of finely crafted fleece or wool. Dress sheets are also used for cooling down horses after a ride on a cold day.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

FAQ

How do you tell if your horse needs a blanket?

You can tell your horse needs a blanket if it’s displaying obvious signs that it’s cold, like shivering. Horses typically tolerate cold weather well, and most don’t need a blanket until temperatures drop into the 30s.

If you clip your horse does it need a blanket?

If your horse is clipped or has a thin coat they should be covered when the temperature drops to 50 degrees. You can check to see if your horse is too hot with its blanket on by rubbing under the blanket to check for sweating. If your horse is sweating take the blanket off or replace it with a lighter one.

Do large draft horse breeds tolerate cold better than other breeds?

Yes, large draft horse breeds typically tolerate cold weather better than smaller horse breeds. Most draft horse breeds originated from cold weather regions and have thick coats to protect against frigid temperatures.

Additional information