To Blanket, Or Not To Blanket, A Horse
Eohippus to Equine
It's a proven fact that horses have been evolving on the planet earth far longer than humans. The exact year Eohippus first made his appearance on the stage of life is up for argument. Five million, ten million, even forty million years ago are some of the educated guesses you'll find on a website, in a magazine, or dictionary. Obviously people have a different idea of when they appeared, but we can all agree, it was millions of years before man ever did.
Eohippus, a small, dog like creature, presented itself first in the tree of the horse. Then came Mesohippus, Merychippus, Pliohippus ending with the modern day Equine. That's a lot of evolving they went through, all by themselves, with no human intervention. And they have not only survived, with no human intervention, they have thrived!.
Horses Adapted Perfectly
To adapt to the ever changing seasons, the horse grows a winter coat beginning in the early winter when the nights begin to get chilly. In the spring, when the weather begins to get warmer and the threat of frost has passed, the winter coat sheds off.
Some horses shed such a thick winter coat it looks as though another horse could be made with all the fluff. They roll, rub against tree's and scratch each others back to get this thick coat to come off. It's been working perfect for millions of years. The horse has adapted so well to this course of weather changes that they continued to survive and thrive.
Controlling Flies and Worms
The best thing you can do is provide your horse with fly control and worms. Both of these parasites are due to humans confining horses. The worms come from their manure that the horse consumes, intentionally or non-intentionally. Being confined there is only so much area a horse can make his mess and eat. Before humans, horses roamed far and wide. Consuming their own feces was not an issue, making worms not a problem.
The same can be said for flies. Flies live and breed where there is manure. When horses roamed the world there was not a fly issue for them. Now, contained to live within just few feet of their manure pile, flies are an issue.
Do your horse a favor and control the flies, I likefeed through fly control, and regularly.
A light fly blanket can be helpful for fly control. Some horses have a really bad time with the flies. Their skin becomes irritated and inflamed. The Weatherbeeta brand fly blankets don't retain heat, but they do keep flies off the horse. Look for the kind with a fine mesh, nothing made with a solid material. This will trap heat and frustrate the natural order of hair growth, and shedding.
Humans Are Altering Natural Instincts
When humans came on the scene we caught and tamed the horse to do our labors. As humans tend to do, we apply our own emotional and physical needs onto our animals, including horses. Somewhere along the line, humans decided that horses needed a jacket when it was cold outside. Yes, a jacket for the horsie. The fashion craze of putting a jacket on your horse swept through the equine world like wildfire. Narry a farm can you pass that doesn't have a jacket on a horse now-a-days.
Are we doing the horse a favor by putting a jacket on them when it's cold, raining or snowing outside. No, we are not. We are doing profound damage to their natural instincts, to their bodies natural desire to grow a thick winter coat!
Beautiful Sunny Day...With a Coat On!
Thick Winter Coats Are a Good Thing!
When you look at the evolution of the horse compared to the evolution of man and how long both have survived on the earth a person would think maybe humans should take some pointers from horses. They've survived far longer than us and will most likely continue to survive when humans destroy themselves. You do realize humans are killing themselves, right? Polluting our sources of fresh water, building atomic bombs, using atomic bombs on enemies, we are on a crash course for self destruction. And where will that leave the horse? Where will his jacket be then? Who's going to construct it? Bring it home? Put it on his back when it's chilly outside? Humans won't be here to do that anymore. But the horse has stopped growing that fine, thick, winter coat because humans have been putting jackets on them for years. They didn't need the winter coat anymore, so their body stopped producing one. We will take the horse down with us due to our sympathy for the poor cold horsie when he wasn't cold at all. He didn't need a jacket, nor did he ask for one. Humans have to train a horse to allow them to put a jacket on. Horses don't want that big, flapping, thing on their back! It restricts their movement. Increases their blindspot and prevents their winter coat from growing.
Exceptions to the No Blanket Rule
There are few times in a horses life that they need a blanket put on. They are:
- When the horse is old. A blanket during very cold nights may help an elderly horse make it through another winter.
- If the horse is sick. When a horse falls ill, a blanket can help regulate his body temperature for him.
- A foal. If the foal is premature, or showing signs of difficulty maintaining his body heat.
When the aforementioned horses do have a blanket put on them, pay attention to when the sun comes out and they don't need it on anymore! An elderly horse still needs the opportunity to grow a winter coat. A sick horse will have great difficulty breaking his fever with the sun on him and a blanket. A foal needs to learn how to grow out his winter coat for the rest of his life.
Take the Jacket OFF!
Today I took a drive. It's November in California. The air is crisp at night, but warms up to the mid 70's during the day. It's around 78 degrees today as I drive. I live in the country so I didn't have to go far before I see a group of horses. To my amazement every single horse had a heavy winter jacket on. A couple of horses were trying to lie down in the green grass to enjoy the sunshine, but with their jackets on they couldn't appreciate the warm sunshine on their fur! Their fur couldn't fluff up as it needed to when they stood up and shook off. Their big, winter, jackets just shook with them, containing all that fur from fluffing up. I could see sweat on the shoulders of the horses wear the blanket was lifted up a bit. They were sweating in those jackets!! Do you realize what the sweat is telling their natural instincts? It's saying, "It's hot out! It must be Springtime. It's time to shed any winter coat we may have grown." But it's the onset of winter! They shouldn't lose that coat they're starting to grow! Get the jackets off them! On my way home, the horses still had their jackets on! Every one of them. This kind of behavior should be reported as animal abuse. Preventing a horse from his natural instinct is cruel human behavior. Take the jackets off!!