Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Horses and their Coats

My horses live out 24/7 in a pretty fierce winter. Their coats are, to the eye and hand, quite different: Montana the thin-skinned thoroughbred grows a lighter coat, John the tough Mountain Horse gets a fluffy bunny coat early in winter.

But it surprised me to find that Montana's coat was actually doing a better insulating job on this day last week, because he had the snow pack without icicles on his back. It had been snowing lightly for about 4 hours when I took the pictures.

Johnnie had large thick icicles on his sides, which means that melting had occurred and probably his skin had become cold. I wonder if his winter coat is more impressive to look at or feel than it is to fend off cold??

Montana's coat must have guard hairs that keep that snow on the surface. Once snow is there and conglomerated, it actually warms them. Winter horses! A conundrum. What I know is how much they love that warm beet pulp. Slurp!!!!!


Jocelyn said...

I am ashamed to admit that my horse has layers of blankets and sleazys on for the next few days as it will be below freezing.

I just have huge guilt if I think she is shivering in her stall. Having me to thank that she is cold :(

Tonight was a good ride, but short.
Too Cold for any real work.

Pony Girl said...

Cool pictures. Now your horse looks a little more like my naturally blanketed Appy boy! :) I did put my boy's blanket on for this weekends snow and chilly temps. He is not stalled and has a run-in shed but he typically stands out in the weather, under a wimpy tree. I just didn't want him to get drenched and frozen although I'm sure he would have been fine!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Our guys used to live out and I rarely blanketed them,unless it was going to be windy or raining/sleeting. I think they liked it better living outside, and they all got so fluffy and I know their heavy coats kept them warm.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

All my horses have different coats as far as thickness and hair length but they all seem to be warm enough. At least, I hope so. Here in New Mexico it rarely gets cold longer than a day without warming up for at least some part of the day.
I love how their hairs stand up on end when it really does get cold.

Flying Lily said...

Jocelyn, glad you had a good ride. I like those short ones! More focused.

PonyGirl: I thought of your Appy when I saw how those pics turned out! Yesterday snowed so much I could not get to the barn so I think Montana is not blanketed for this morning's minus 22 temps. Gaah.

GreyHorse: I know Nature is taking care of them, and they do seem to prefer no blankets.

Fantastyk: Yes, I love that fluffy bunny look!

lytha said...

i never knew that, about the icicles on their coats meaning the insulation isn't working as well.

thanks for sharing