Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2007 7:53 am Post subject: Blanketing and frequency of hoof care
The question was:
At what temperature do horses need to be blanketed? And how often do horses need their shoes replaced?
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A lot of equine management will depend on the horse in question. For example, I live in FL, and there's almost no reason to blanket horses in this weather. However, I do have a horse who simply doesn't do well in winter without a blanket, even in our mild climate.
The great thing about leaving horses unblanketed is that they can determine how much warmth they need. As things get more chilly through the night, they fluff up their coats and provide themselves with more insulation. When things start to warm up in the morning, they slick their coats back down and cool off. They do a much better job than we can of regulating their temperatures; we can't go out there every few hours to change their blankets all night long!
The muscles that lift the hair to fluff out the coat are not very strong, so even a very lightweight sheet will prevent the horse from using his coat to keep himself warm. A horse with a sheet on may actually be *colder* than a horse wearing nothing, since the unblanketed horse can fluff up his coat.
Also, a horse in a "nice warm stall" can't move around to keep himself warm, so he may be colder than a horse left outside all night!
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It's important to have a good, well educated and experienced farrier working on your horse. This farrier should be able to give you advice on how often your horse's feet need trimming/shoeing (many horses do not need shoes). Some horses, with good conformation and healthy feet, may be able to go 8 or even 10 weeks without a trim. However, some horses have very bad hooves or poor conformation that makes them wear their hooves down unevenly; these horses will need more frequent care, sometimes as often as every 4 weeks. Only a farrier on the spot will be able to give you the best advice on your horse's hoof needs.