Cold Pony

So after the unusually mild weekend the winter finally came on Monday. Temperatures started to drop and by yesterday the projected highs were only going to be in the 20s. I wasn’t too worried about it. Gen went blanket free all year last year and there were plenty of single digit days so I figured he would be fine.
Imagine my surprise when I went to the barn and Gen came running up to me and put his muzzle on my face…and it was cold. I was shocked. I am normally greeted by a nice toasty pony nose, not a chilly one. I quickly took stock feeling his ears, flank, etc and sure enough…Gen was cold. It was a little breezy out, but not that bad. Especially not when two sides of his field are pretty good at blocking the wind. I quickly walked him inside where he promptly tried to hide in my pocket. If only he would fit 😛
Since I wasn’t planning on blanketing him at all this year I only had his sheet at the barn. That is just for the really cold days where it is raining slush. I couldn’t decide if I should put it on him or not. I think it was one of my readers that told me that a horse with a sheet on doesn’t keep heat as well as one that is naked. After a thorough 45 minute groom and cuddle session I decided to just put the sheet on to make myself feel better if nothing else. By that time the rest of the horses were in and I knew what I had to do to make myself feel better…
I decided to go home and get his blankets. I knew it was not going to be fun to drive 25 minutes home, grab the blanket and drive 25 minutes back, but it was also the only way I was going to be able to sleep at night. So I tucked Gen away in his stall, where he promptly got to work on a pile of hay, and hoped he would warm up now that he was inside. I am sure my neighbors thought I was crazy because I literally walked in the door, went to the basement and got the blanket container and went right back in the car to drive back up. The whole time I worried about my poor fuzzy pony trying to figure out why he was cold in such mild conditions. The ideas I came up with on my drive back are…
1) He is getting older. He is 20 now after all and everyone knows it is hard to keep an older horse warm compared to a younger one.
2) The temperature changed very quickly. It went from nearly 60 to a night time low of 6 in under 48 hours.
3) His coat isn’t as fuzzy as it was last year. Maybe Gen didn’t grow a big coat because it is going to be a mild winter?
I don’t know if any of those are real, or if I am missing a big idea, but those were what I came up with in my 45 minute drive back to the barn (thank you traffic). I had assumed that Gen would warm up in the hour+ that I was gone so imagine my disappointment when he was still chilly. He wasn’t like ice at least this time though so I tried not to worry. I gave him some more cookies to make up for the bath (he was still holding a grudge, but also wanted his Mommy so he was very torn yesterday) and put his medium weight on him instead.

I left instructions to change his clothing as needed and pointing out where I left his heavy weight just in case and was on my way. It turns out they left him in the medium all day, and I was glad because he was just comfortable when I got to the barn (not hot or cold, just normal). Is it crazy to go to the barn twice after work? Probably, but I was really glad that I did it. I think I might have to leave his blankets at the barn from now on no matter what. Does anyone else who doesn’t blanket have a hard time when there horse is cold? What do you do? Do you have spare blankets lying around just in case?


9 thoughts on “Cold Pony

  1. I have found that every horse is different. Ben has a thick wooly coat and only needs a blanket on the most bitter of days. Paj has never ever grown much of a coat, so he’s blanketed. We have tall garage cabinets in the barn that we call “the wardrobes”. They are filled with blankets just in case someone needs one, or needs a dry one.

  2. my gelding goes blanketless and does just fine by himself. i REFUSE to put a blankie on him, even if he is freezing BECAUSE he kills blankets within SECONDS!! He will stand still all day long and let you put it on, but as soon as you turn your back it is off his body, hanging around his neck with two brand new holes for his front legs… :/
    so i really think it depends on the horse…I had a mare that used to grow a really thick coat and sweated throughout winter (blanketless) but i had to blanket her for some reason ONE time and then i couldn’t keep her away from it. She would get it and drag it around behind her, trying to put it on herself… When my gelding gets “cold” i just have to turn a cold shoulder and tell him to suck it up…i occassionally throw him a half a flake of hay to burn some heat, but other than that, no blankie.
    Also, i make sure he can freely go into his stall (mare motel with tarps as walls to stop the wind from blowing rain inside…)

  3. I think you did the right thing. When the temperature drops that quickly, they don’t have the hair coat they would if it gradually got colder, and like you said, he’s older now. And yes, I have lots of extra blankets laying around the barn (and even more at home). I even brought down a neck cover for PJ but I was told that that probably wasn’t needed.

  4. You bathed him the other day – right? When you bathe them you wash away skin oil which helps to water proof and insulate their winter coats. This could have had a contributing factor to him being cold.

  5. I have Laz naked now too, he’s developed a great fur coat and is out 24/7 with great shelter (open stalls) and key; plenty of hay. I do keep a sheet and his blanket there, just in case for something like you experienced. My concern, is if my horse is cold and uncomfortable, it could lead to not eat/drinking and then colic, etc. But so far; he’s comfortable. I would guess bathing him recently may have removed his protective layer they develop for winter, leaving him a little cold. A few good rolls should help him out 😉
    I just keep reading more and more about how blankets are never as good as their natural coat, so I’m striving for that. Of course, it comes with the caveat of if they are too thin or older, which Gen is a bit older so he may need the extra protection so he doesn’t burn too many calories leaving him too thin.

  6. Ace hasn’t grown a very good winter coat this year either. He usually has no problem getting thick and hairy. After it sat in the 40’s and 50’s for most of December, and then suddenly dropped down below 30, the blanket went on. He’s finally at such good weight that I don’t want him having to work too hard to stay warm, especially with such a wimpy winter coat.

  7. My horse gets free choice hay 24 -7 so theoretically he can eat (in his run in) to stay warm. Trying to go without blankets as much as possible, but when ear tips are cold, I put something on. If it’s blowing or raining and cold (forties and below) – definitely a blanket. Around freezing or below – high neck blanket.

    I’d hate for him to come out of the winter thinner because he was trying to stay warm. He lives with me so I can add or subtract layers easily if conditions change. Plus – he loves his blankets, and lucky for me is not hard on them.

  8. Let’s see…

    As a rule, I prefer horses to grow coats and not need blankets. BUT, last winter I was glad I had purchased some anyways, just in case. We ended up with an ice storm and a snow storm, temps in the teens for weeks, falling to single digits randomly at night. Sometimes horses will colic when they are cold, as my Casey did mildly last winter. Here’s the run down on my guys:

    Casey: Blanket from 45F and under. He thinks he’s a hothouse flower or something. He gets cranky and naughty if he’s cold. Our first winter in GA was not what he was prepared for, having just come from Oregon where winter is wet, but mild.

    Molly: Likes a blanket, but can care less. Being Georgia born and raised, she is used to the temps here. I blanket her so *I* feel better.

    Sugar: Even though she’s fuzzy, she gets blanketed because she’s my rescue mare. In the 6 weeks she was boarded and we were moving, she wasn’t blanketed in the cold and she lost most of the weight I worked so hard to get on her this fall. Blanketing is a MUST. She doesn’t have anything to spare.

    Flirt: Completely new to me, but was boarded with Sugar. She arrived thin as well. As an OTTB, she’s used to being blanketed, but has developed an aversion to anyone handling her hind end. I took the leg straps off the blanket we were using and it stayed put just fine. She has less hair than the others, so she needs to be blanketed.

    Muse: She’s in Oregon, with my trainer friend for the winter, because I expected a hard winter like last year. Funny, it’s been harsh in Oregon and really mild here in Georgia this year. She is blanketed, but she is also very fuzzy. Mostly she’s blanketed because that’s how they do things in show barns, which is where she is.

    I learned that I cannot use myself as a measurement of when they need a blanket or not because being Alaskan myself, I still run around outside in short sleeves when it’s freezing. I have learned to closely watch the temps to blanket or un-blanket as needed.

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