In winters past, my husband would always point out horses in random fields happily munching on a pile of hay without any blankets on in sub-freezing winter weather. I never had a good answer for him as to why I had to blanket my own horse when those horses were fat, healthy, and completely content looking despite the weather. My response was always, yeah, but we live in Oregon and it rains all the time. Rose needed a rain sheet at the very least. Deep down I knew this was a fib that I was telling myself, since every time it rained, rain sheet or no, I would find her bone dry standing in her run-in shed. My husband's argument against blanketing was that why would I needlessly blanket a horse when they don't need it and cause myself all the trouble of constantly having to wash, hang-dry, and repair winter blankets that Rose was intent on destroying. Not to mention the huge cost in purchasing new ones as she grew. What he was saying made sense, and I didn't have a good argument in my defense, so as one should in such a pinch I'd just change the subject.
Then last spring we moved to Montana and soon after I got pregnant. I decided to only ride through about 20-weeks as per doctors wishes. That put me out of the saddle at the first of December. It seemed silly to trace clip a horse for one month of riding (November). So, I decided to tough it out, leave her naked through the fall, and see if she grew a thick winter coat. I still figured I'd put blankets on her when it got cold though.
|Fat, Happy and Blanket Free|
Since Rose made it through the winter blanket free so well, I'm not concerned about spring rain. She has a huge run-in shelter, and always stands under it when it rains. When the temps spike and it's sunny out she romps around her pasture happy as a clam. I never have to worry that she's stuck sweating under a blanket or rain sheet. It feels great to be free from the hassle of blanketing, and I just wish I'd tried it a long time ago. Rose is much happier, and the lack of weight and pressure points from heavy blankets has likely been really good for her back.
My goal for next winter is to see if I can keep Rose in work through the winter and still not blanket her. It is so dry here in the winter that she dries off really quick, so I think that we will be able to manage. I'm excited and looking forward to trying it out, and feel liberated from my blanketing neuroses.
Happy trails and swooshing tails!