Through rain & snow & sleet & hail, a horse owners job is never done. This is one reason why I’ve always said that horse’s are a lifestyle rather than a hobby. As much money as can go into sailing, golf, or even football, there is no other sport that requires the hobbyist to bundle up and carry on, no matter the day. The ultimate truth about it is that horse’s are a LOT of work. They count on us for their every need. If the pipes in the barn freeze, it’s our responsibility to lug water from the house bathtub to the barn. If the power goes out, they look to us to purchase gallon jugs to fill their buckets. The money that can be spent on their care is also endless – from blankets to feed to supplements to brushes – it truly never ends.
Do you know what the secret to all of the above is though? It is the absolutely most rewarding thing that I could ever do in my life. Yes, there are days that I just don’t feel like going out to the barn. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t. But once I gain the motivation and get out there to saddle up, I NEVER regret it.
So I digress as I realize I’m getting away from my topic. I’m going to talk about the cold to start with. I grew up in Virginia, of course with horses, so was far more used to cold and ice than what we experience here in North Georgia. Even still, just a few weeks ago the temperatures got down to less than 5 degrees. I had a customer ask me during this time what my recommendations were for blanketing. They stated that they heard that horses didn’t even NEED blankets, and that we were doing them a disservice by putting them on. To a point, I do agree with them… horses for the most part are able to regulate their own temperature, and placing a blanket on them can cause the hair to lay down, preventing them from utilizing their own thermostat. The exception to this, in my opinion, is extreme weather, especially that which has large swings/changes in short time periods. While horses do shiver to create heat, I never want my own charges to get to this point. A good, heavy, 1200 denier turnout blanket (can I stress TURNOUT BLANKET again?) will protect your horse in times such as this. I’m going to say this one more time – TURNOUT BLANKET. While they do cost more, they will protect your horse from the elements that a stable blanket cannot. Stable blankets are made for just what their name states – being in the stable. Any horse that is outside needs to have something waterproof, lest their blanket gets wet and soaks through. Just imagine if you were outside in a wet jacket with no way to take it off. Not a good thought, huh?
It’s hard to imagine right now, but the other side of crazy weather is extreme heat. Please, please, please make sure your horse has fresh water to drink and a shady spot to get out of the heat. I personally LOVE summer (the heat makes for easy wet saddle blankets, which makes for even better horses), but you need to be careful with making the transition from winter to spring to summer. Make sure that your horse is shedding properly, and help him out with good brushing. Body clip your long haired horse if necessary if you’re ready to start working your horse hard in hot weather.
All in all, use common sense when caring for your horse in extreme temperatures – whether it is heat or cold. Think about how you would want to be treated and act appropriately. And of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance!