I’m not sure when a horse needs a blanket and when they don’t. I have a 6 year old quarter horse mare, she is overweight and has plenty of fat! I have not put a blanket on her before. It gets very cold where I live (Iowa) and she is turned out half the day with a round bale and access to a shelter, and inside a shelter half day (to limit hay consumption).
Also if you could please let me know what kind of blanket to get that would be great! – NL, Iowa
I was hoping someone would ask a blanketing question this winter! Fortunately for you, it doesn’t sound like your mare needs a blanket. Shes’s a young adult, in good flesh (perhaps TOO good!), getting plenty of hay, already acclimated to the temperature, with access to shelter at all times. If she was very young or very old, already thin, just in from a warmer climate, or sick or debilitated, I might suggest a waterproof turnout blanket for her, with at least 200 grams of fill. Or you could use a stable blanket and layer it with a lighter waterproof turnout blanket (0 to 100 grams of fill), also called a turnout sheet. However, unless your mare actually begins shivering, I recommend letting the fermentation of the hay and the windbreak of the shelter keep her warm (you might have heard that horses should be fed corn in the winter to keep them warm, but this is a common misconception—hay has been proven to give off more heat during digestion).
If you are planning on working your horse during the winter hard enough to make her sweat on a regular basis, you may want to consider body clipping her. If you do remove her hair, then you MUST blanket her since you have taken away her natural protection from the cold. You don’t say if the shelter is the side of a building (sufficient for a windbreak) or a three-sided lean-to or run-in stall that also has a roof. If she is not protected from rain, sleet or snow during the colder months, you may want to consider a waterproof layer for her.
I think your mare will do fine in the situation you describe, providing she has access to unfrozen water at all times and a fortified grain (or in her case, a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement or forage balancer). Just make sure you feel her all over at least every two weeks throughout the winter to make sure she is not dropping in body condition score (BCS). You can’t simply look at a horse with a heavy winter coat and determine its BCS—you have to feel how much muscle and fat they are carrying. Here’s a website where you can brush up on the scoring scale: Click Here