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Keep Horses Dry to Keep Them Warm in WinterBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · February 20, 2014

Horses in many regions are enduring chilly temperatures and snow-covered fields. Eating plenty of hay fuels heat-producing fermentation in the hindgut, and this digestive action is one of the most important sources of warmth for horses that live in cold climates.

For equines, staying dry is a big part of staying warm. The horse’s coat will shed some rain unless the precipitation lasts a long time or is driven by a strong wind. In severe weather, outdoor horses may benefit from waterproof blankets, but blanketing requires that the horses be checked several times a day to be sure the blanket fits well and doesn’t rub the horse’s coat.

Putting a blanket on a wet horse prevents the coat from drying, so horses should be brought into a stall and allowed to dry completely before blankets are put on. In a pinch, a blanket can be put on a wet horse and fastened loosely, with large handfuls of straw or hay placed at frequent intervals between the horse’s skin and the inside of the blanket so that air can circulate to help the coat dry. This is a temporary solution, and the horse will need to have this blanket removed and a completely dry one put on before he is either left in the stall or turned out.

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