To Blanket or Not to Blanket? A good Cold-Weather Question

By Luke Bass, DVM, MS

The chilly months from late fall to early spring are generally a time of slowed activity for horse and rider, but attentiveness to horse health and management is just as crucial during the cold season. As an equine veterinarian, I’m often asked about blanketing during the cold months.

Primary considerations in horse blanketing are hair coat and environmental temperature. Here is some information that will assist you in making the right blanketing decision for your horse.

First, it’s useful to know that horses have an innate ability to withstand cold and wind, with the important caveat that they need shelter or a windbreak, as well as proper cold-season feed and nutrition.

Blankets tend to compress a coat’s layers, which compromises their insulating properties. Horses that do not live in extremely cold environments—extremely cold meaning routinely colder than 10°F (about -12°C)—will do well without a blanket, provided they are either stalled during the coldest temperatures or have access to a protective shelter.

Feed and nutrition are also factors tied to blanketing, because a horse generates body heat through digestive activity. To help your horse live comfortably in cold weather, make sure calories are adequate. Most important, provide sufficient forage (typically in the form of hay). As the horse digests forage, gut activity warms the body. This function, along with the natural insulating abilities of the winter coat, allows your horse to live comfortably in an environment that is not excessively cold, assuming shelter is available.

The decision to blanket your horse comes with pros and cons. A positive aspect of blanketing is that it helps maintain a short-haired show coat, thus decreasing your body clipping time if you are showing during the colder months. Performance horses might need clipping and blanketing to control winter hair growth, so they can exercise without getting too sweaty and so that sweat dries easily. Consider a partial rather than a full clip for the benefits of easily cleaned sweaty areas and heavy hair coat in other areas.

Blankets also are used in icy and snowy weather to keep your outside horse clean and dry, ready for you to ride. For horses living in very cold places—again, places where the temperature is often colder than 10°F—blankets can provide the added warmth needed, especially when protective shelter is not available. Additionally, when a horse is moved from a warm climate to a much cooler climate, a blanket can help the horse become acclimated to the new environment.

Here are a few blanketing tips to follow:

  • Only apply blankets to clean, dry horses.
  • Use the appropriate blanket for the appropriate use. A turnout blanket is for use during turnout and is designed to be waterproof. Horses that live in the elements wearing blankets should wear waterproof and breathable blankets. A blanket that is not waterproof will quickly become saturated, making your horse cold—the opposite of the desired effect with blanket use.
  • If you have decided to blanket, use the blanket weight that is most appropriate for your horse’s needs and the weather conditions. If it’s 40°F (about 4.4°C), your horse probably only needs a lightweight blanket. If it’s -10°F (about -23°C), he might prefer a heavyweight blanket.
  • Sweating in a blanket on a hot day can be just as problematic as wearing a non-waterproof blanket in wet weather.
  • Remove your horse’s blanket and groom him on a regular basis.

Properly cleaning blankets is recommended for longevity of the product, but remember that most are designed to be line-dried, so either purchase a quick-

drying blanket or have a backup. When cleaning or rinsing your blanket, check all the fasteners and attachments to make sure they are secured tightly to the blanket. A blanket that slips can cause your horse to spook, and could lead to injury.

Unless you are showing your horse, blanketing is a personal decision. The blanket will give your horse added warmth, but in return will decrease your horse’s natural winter hair growth.

Consult your equine veterinarian for more information about horse care through the winter months, and for the latest information on nutrition, dental care, and preventative medicine.

Luke Bass, DVM, MS, is an equine veterinarian at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. To contact our Equine Services team, call 970/297-5000 or visit and navigate to “Equine.”


Things to DO in January

  • LEARN from top clinicians Ann Kursinski, Beezie Madden and Laura Kraut at the George H. Morris Horsemanship Training Session, January 3-7 in Wellington, FL. The clinic’s mission is to identify and develop the next generation of U.S. Equestrian Team talent in all area of horsemanship. Free to auditors;
  •  ATTEND the National Western Stock Show at the National Western Complex in Denver, January 7-22, 2017. Events include rodeo, PBR Bull Riding, shopping, the Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale, an Evening of Dancing with Horses, Wild West Shows, Super Dogs, Grand Prix, and much more.
  • KEEP UP with the latest news, rule changes and discussions at the 2017 U.S Equestrian Federation Annual Meeting, January 11-14, in Lexington, KY. Top equestrians and horses will be honored Friday and Saturday evenings;
  •  TAKE PART in the CHJA Banquet and the Zone 8 Awards Ceremony on Saturday, January 7, 2017 at the Radisson Denver and vote for the CHJA Board of Directors on or before the banquet at
  • RENEW your CHJA Membership, USEF & USHJA Memberships and any other affiliate organization such as; for your Ariat, NAL, THIS Medal, WIHS and Show Jumping Hall of Fame points to count towards year-end awards. All yearly memberships technically expired on November 30, 2016 and points for the 2017 year began on December 1, 2016. Affiliate memberships may have different expiration dates. Check and make sure you are in good standing and none of your memberships are expired. #nobeforeyoushow

What is a Brand Ambassador? A Brand Ambassador embodies the core purpose of The Hacked Horse to help strengthen the customer-product/service relationship and influence a larger audience. Predominantly, a Brand Ambassador is known as a positive spokesperson who helps create brand awareness.

What will my involvement be? We look to our Ambassadors to actively promote The Hacked Horse. Through this program, we just ask that you take that promotion to the next level.

Our Ambassador requirements are aligned with our business process, and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Help us create a buzz for our web site through promotions on social networks (blogs, posts, pictures, videos, etc). An example of such content would be posting a selfie with the hashtag #TheHackedHorse.
  • Share brand messages on social networks. This is the most basic Ambassador requirement. We ask that you actively help us promote, at least 4 times a month on one or more platforms, using proper tagging and hashtags.

Anything more than that is icing on the cake!

Here are just a few examples:

  • Original posts
  • Share posts from The Hacked Horse
  • Product reviews posted to social – Products will be given to you.
  • Share our news and stories
  • Give ideas for new products, companies or partners we should align with
  • Write commentary or feedback about our site – this may be on the website or in follow up to a social media post.

Are there incentives to being a Brand Ambassador? Of course! We appreciate your assistance, so we will be sure the love is reciprocated! While you will not be paid monetarily, we want to be sure you are recognized for all your hard work!

You are, in fact, part of our team! Incentives may include, but are not limited to:

  • FREE schwag and HH product
  • Involvement in meetings/new product rollouts/new product previews
  • Promoted as BAs on our website and social media pages
  • And MORE!


How long is a Brand Ambassador contract? Currently, our program will run on a six month term. At that time, you can reapply to stay on as an Ambassador. We will add new representatives as we go on. If at any time you feel you cannot uphold your part of the Ambassador deal, you can opt out of the program.

Fast Forward To Now

By : Jessie Koerner

For the past 20 years, my brother has been a sponsored runner. I’ve always envied the technical fabrics, Gore-Tex and sweat-wicking shirts, especially on summer days (remember riding in Jean shorts and chaps? Just me?). While I definitely took advantage of the discounted products he got, I just couldn’t understand why our sport was stuck in the Stone Age of wool and polyester. Runners’ styles are very…er… different from our own.

Fast forward to now, and we have *finally* caught up. Not only do we get sport centric fabric and materials, but it pays homage to the traditional and beautiful look none of us want to give up. Maybe it’s just me, but I love the respect we pay our sport with our dress; it drives me nuts to see other sports players and coaches on the sidelines wearing torn up sweats.

Some of my favorite items for hacking include must-have ice fill shirts, and the long sleeve Asmar tees. I drool over the easy-to-layer or wear alone Cavalliera lace polos that @zintapolo always wears on her Instagram. In Colorado, we’ve got to be able to layer up or down, sometimes  in the same ride. Fior Da Liso sweaters, with their pretty details are so easy for after work hacks or early morning schooling rings.


SmartPak Piper breeches and Horseware’s Nina breech are all I wear these days (sorry Tailored Sportsman). If I could afford Le Fash’s City Breech, I’d probably wear those every day.


LeFash City Breech

Which brings me to the point: being an equestrian is expensive as hell, so how do you look the part without fully committing to a liquid diet after the Ramen noodle budget dries up? I love our local vendors, but sometimes my paycheck cries when I check the price tag.


Here are some tips from a cheap-ass rider: 


1) Patience, grasshoppers.

Boot laces (and sometimes zippers…) break, gloves get holes, and an emergency trip to the tack store or on-location trailer is necessary. But blankets, sheets, show shirts, and other lovely things we covet require planning ahead. There are great sales to be had, even in the horse world, the trick is knowing when to buy, and where to buy. Blankets and sheets are least expensive at the end of the season when you need them. In Colorado, that means watching the Weather Channel for what happens in normal states, but typically around March or April while we’re getting pummeled, vendors across the country are seeing birds chirping and flowers sprouting. Fly sheets go on deep discount end of August/September. Foxcreek has their annual 20% off sale every spring. Dover’s tent sale is in July. Exceptional Equestrian always has some sort of sale rack with amazing things. The trick is stocking up when you can save big. That way you can budget for a full-price sheet, then when you score on-sale stuff, you can add some gloves or new socks to the cart.


2) My mama told me “you better shop around”

I know, I know, you see something gorgeous and you have to have it. But that’s a good way to only buy one thing you covet when you could get more. Some of my favorite people at my favorite stores (ExEq, Foxcreek) will price match – keep that in mind before you fill in your shipping information. If you simply spend some time Googling while you’re in line at Wild Willy’s instead of just checking the usual websites you remember, you can save a ton of money. I ordered a German martingale from a store having a closeout in North Carolina for literally $200 less than I would have spent anywhere else. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes the difference is free shipping (recommended when local dealers don’t have what you need). But hey, $7 saved in shipping is $7 you can spend on a Frito pie!


3) I’m only going to say this once: Never pay for shipping

Seriously. Paying for shipping is cray. If the retailer doesn’t offer it off the bat, search or the Google machine for coupon codes. If, like our dear friends at Dover whom I love and adore but abhor their shipping policy, they charge by how much you spend… run. There is no reason to ever pay $15 shipping for a $150 shirt. It’s a shirt. That’s insane. If you’re accessible to Dover in Parker, you can go in and they’ll ship it for you for free. Again, this may take some planning on when you’ll be at the Horse Park showing. Otherwise, Google, Google, Google. Just don’t pay for shipping.


4) Sign up for email lists

Some places will give you a 10-15% discount for your first purchase. Others will send email-list only sale notifications. I know, they’re irritating because most of the time you just end up deleting them every damn day. But when you get that notification that Piper breeches are 25% off at SmartPak this weekend only? That’s some serious heart-in-throat shopping excitement.

Sometimes the savings will only be a few dollars. Sometimes, it’ll be like the Beval spring clearance sale and you’ll get a Rambo blanket for $70; or you’ll waffle on the decision too long and someone else will get that Rambo blanket for $70, but that’s not the point. Things are expensive. We should support our local businesses. But sometimes it’s not always possible to hand over the credit card, guilt free, and buy that gorgeous Fior da Liso button down full price.