Blanketing, and other Colorful Considerations

So, I was walking up to this barn, and I see a client strolling down the aisle, shaking her head, obviously concerned about something.  “What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I had my horse talk to the psychic,” she said.psychic

This is the sort of instance where you can easily blow a doctor:client relationship by saying something like, “Oh, what an utter and complete waste of time and money!”  Being somewhat wizened to client psychology at this point, instead, I wondered, “What did she say?”

“Well,” my client offered, “my horse hates the color red.”

Perplexed, for among other reasons, because I know that horses are mostly colorblind, I asked, (somewhat reluctantly, because I knew that some answer would be forthcoming), “Why is this a problem?”

Turns out that the horse had red leg bandages, in which his legs could be wrapped at night.  Worse:  he had a matching red blanket.  The poor beast was covered in red.  Fortunately, there was a solution.

“I’m going to have to go out and buy blue leg wraps and a blue blanket this afternoon,” she said.   “It’s the only way he’ll be happy.”

At once nodding sympathetically, and pinching my forearm as hard as I could so as to maintain my composure, I offered her some obviously needed support.  I held up pretty well until she said, “Doctor Ramey, I never knew horses were so materialistic.”

“Neither did I,” I said, moving quickly towards a quiet spot where I could lie down and hold my sides.

Blanket.oldActually, the whole idea of blanketing horses is pretty silly.  Horses originated in some of the coldest parts of the world (the central Asian steppes).  They’ve got a nice coat of hair to provide insulation.  Their body mass makes it fairly hard for them to get rid of heat (bigger animals have more problems getting rid of heat – there’s less body surface, relative to their size, than in smaller animals).  Honestly, unless you live in Finland, and it’s January, and you insist on keeping your horses outside all of the time, you never have to worry about your horse getting cold.  The idea that horses might ever get cold in southern California is pretty laughable.

Now blanketing certainly does do a couple of things.  It may help keep some dirt off of your horse, which can be helpful if you’re at a show, perhaps saving you some grooming time.  They provide a barrier against flies.  Blankets certainly adorn them in a delightful color of your choice, which, hopefully, you can indulge without personal embarrassment.  However, blanketing does NOT do anything to limit the growth of the coat – coat growth is controlled mostly by day length (as the days get shorter, the coat gets longer, and vice versa).



The facts are all well and good, but my experience has been that you’ll probably keep blanketing your horses anyway.  That’s fine – it certainly doesn’t hurt them.  But remember:  it’s mostly for you, not for them.

4 thoughts on “Blanketing, and other Colorful Considerations

  1. Pingback: Is unnecessary blanketing some sort of craze? - Page 3

  2. IleneRoberts

    New to your posts, love your style of writing, I started with the twitch article… Don’t the big cats in Africa grab the noses of the animals they’re taking down? I think you’re right that it’s probably psychological to the horse. At any rate, after that I saw the one regarding blanketing and I thought yes and no.

    We live in Washington state, all rain jokes aside… we have an older gelding who doesn’t get much of a winter coat and will start shivering on fall mornings if he’s wet. Our friends paint also doesn’t get a coat and she shivers as well. We have two younger horses from further north who grow coats that make them look like some form of yak hybrid and we only blanket them when there’s frost or snow.

    The gelding actually gets a lightweight blanket until it really starts getting cold then we put on a heavier one and will use a neck cover when it starts to snow. He truly seems to appreciate a blanket, he’s normally kind of a sour puss but if you come out with a blanket and he’s chilly he meets you at the fence and noses it in your arms. He darn near puts it on himself. Am I reading something into this that isn’t really there and am silly for blanketing him?

    … and a psychic… really?? good grief.

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