I’m not going to blanket my horse, and here’s why.
When it comes to my horse, and what he needs, my first thought is to consider what is natural for him. Wild horses have no need of blankets any more than deer or elk. Domestic horses, however, often live their lives inside enclosed stalls, inside barns. They may not put on as thick a coat as the outside horse. If you keep your horse in a temperature controlled environment, it won’t need blanketing. He’ll be OK as long as you don’t suddenly turn him out in the elements. On the other hoof, if you keep your horse outside for most of the year, and then bring him in during the winter, he’ll probably be too warm, even without a blanket.
My mustang has a thick winter coat because he’s spent the last 4 months in Washington State where winters are extremely cold: he’s been preparing. Last year he spent the winter in Arkansas where it’s not nearly as cold as it is here, and his coat wasn’t near as thick as it is today. If I were to blanket him, he’d overheat. If I were to stick him inside a barn, he would be uncomfortable. As we consider seasonal changes in temperatures, we must consider ranges in temperature during the day and night. If you blanket your horse in the cold of the evening, he’ll be OK during the night when the temperatures drop. If the next day is unseasonably warm, you’ll have to remove the blanket or he’ll get hot. And then you’ll have to put it back on when it gets cold. This is the main problem with horse blankets,as I see it. We don’t always know what our horses want. No one but you knows your comfort zones. What about your horse’s comfort zones?
If you do blanket your horse, please remove it on a daily basis to let his coat breathe, to check for injuries, to give him a good brushing, etc. If we leave the blanket on for extended periods, we may be causing uncomfortable conditions: sore spots, rain rot, itching, foreign objects stuck under the blanket, etc.
One other thing to consider: In the winter, a horse’s coat stands up. This has an insulating effect. When we blanket our horses, we flatten their coat, lessening its insulating capacity. That’s like poking holes in the bottom of your water pail, and expecting it to hold water.
Your horse’s age and activity are other considerations. Older horses, like people, may have less tolerance for extreme temperatures. Also consider changes in location: have you recently moved from warmer to colder climate, as I have?
As with all things horse-related, if you are in doubt about something, do your research, ask a professional. Whatever you do, be sure to ask your horse what he wants. They talk, we just need to learn their language and listen