Spinoff: Which Blanketing Configuration is Warmer?

Context: Horse in question is a young TB in Upstate NY. He came up from FL last winter, doesn’t grow a significant coat, and while currently at a 4-5 BCS, he can’t afford to drop weight trying to keep warm. I have a frankly absurd wardrobe for this horse. He spent most of last winter in a 220g medium weight on top of a 360g heavy, with a neck cover. He’s better acclimated to the cold now, but still struggles.

Forecast is looking bitter cold for this weekend - high of 5°F (-15°C), lows below zero. With windchill factored in, we could be looking at realfeel temps around -20°F (-29°C). Horses will be turned out. He has free choice access to his own grass round bale, but no shelter or windbreak in turnout.

Do bellyband blankets provide significantly more warmth? I’m considering a few different options for blanketing this weekend.

  1. 220g midweight w/ bellyband and neck cover + 100g liner

  2. 360g heavy (no bellyband) + neck cover

  3. 360g heavy (no bellyband) + 100g liner + neck cover

For a cold sensitive horse in these circumstances, which option would you pick?

no personal experience with a gelding but have been told they make a mess on bellybands…

For fit and breathability I prefer a liner with either the medium or heavy weight overtop.

The winter I clipped my mare she lived in her liner and one of the turnouts, some weeks that got to -30 I doubled up the liners. The 330 gr turnout also has a neck blanket.
Seems to me I also used a belly band but it ripped.

I had a blanket with a belly band. I didn’t have any with my gelding getting it dirty.

No scientific evidence, but I would think they belly band would help.

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What’s the temperature? What’s the shelter, hay and wind situation?

It really depends on all those factors but option 2 is my vote. Less blankets is always better and a neck cover really helps so the wind or wet doesn’t go down the shoulders of the blanket.

If really really windy or cold I would add the liner.

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This is N=1 but as a fellow upstate NYer… The neck covers made a huge difference in the weight I needed to blanket - as in, having them on meant I could “blanket down” versus blanket up. I saw it in my own herd where previous weather that might make them shiver left them perfectly comfortable once a neck cover with fill was added.

I imagine the same goes for belly bands but I just outfitted the whole herd in Rambos… I am not buying new blankets! :joy:

I don’t know your horse, and you provided specifics that say he is cold sensitive - even then I think 360g is a lot. :open_mouth: Unless he is clipped.

1 seems okay for the day but if you are looking at -20F weather I wouldn’t skimp. 1 has the least amount of fuss, and it has a belly band plus neck cover and appeals to me for the “fully insulated” reason. But -20F is not a time to play around!

If the real-feel temp is really in the negatives (especially -20F) I think 360g is appropriate for a horse who has no shelter.

Definitely report back, would be interesting to see what your gelding says. 220g is enough blanket for most horses – even a clipped one – but I would always rather a horse in winter be too hot over too cold, for reasons related to their water consumption, they just do not drink enough water when they are cold.

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They absolutely do add warmth, but it’s hard to do the math and come up with an exact percentage. I’m way further south than you and it’s in the low 20s during the day and the young racehorse with no coat is wearing a high neck midweight under a regular midweight (so like 420 grams). I can’t even imagine what he’d need if it was 40 degrees colder.

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No snow in the forecast, thankfully. Just cold and windy.

Interesting! That doesn’t seem to be an issue for us so far, but the Schneider’s ones fit pretty snug to the belly and don’t come quite far enough back to get in the way.

I don’t know how much a belly band really does but my horse’s blanket has tapered areas where the belly surcingles are so those areas come very far under to the point where it almost becomes a belly band. Hopefully that made sense. Based off of that, I think the belly band could help a little bit.

However, I get a little more worried about their back being warm so I would probably go with 2 or 3, depending on the windchill. The app Wunderground gives an estimate of how bad the “real feel” or windchill will be in advance, I use it a lot!

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It was cold here today (not quite as cold as we’re expecting this weekend but windchill dipped as low as -5°F. Sustained actual temperatures around 10°F. I couldn’t get to the barn today, so I just texted the BM to ask what she put him in this morning. Turns out she went for Option 1 - 100g liner + 220g bellyband turnout + neck cover. Said he was comfortable in that - definitely not too warm.

If the realfeel is going to be 15°-20° colder than it was today… I’m thinking he might need the liner + 360g since he was in 320g of fill today + bellyband and none too warm.

I forgot to ask but is he clipped at all?

He’s not clipped but grows almost no coat. Think maybe a smidge more fluff than show slick. To quote my trainer: “His skin’s like tissue paper and he has no hair.”

This animal clearly missed the “horses are supposed to be hardy creatures” memo.

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I would definitely lean more towards 3 then, just so that there’s no chance he’ll shiver off any of the calories he’s getting from the hay.

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Im cold just reading about these temps.

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When the temperature drops significantly, suddenly, from the previous couple of weeks’ average I put heavier than normal blankets on. We had a similar temperature plummet from +1C on Sunday to -24C(-32C wind-chill) overnight on Monday. I put an extra 100g on both horses, and a full neck rug on the one that normally just has a Wug. The other wears a full neck rug all winter.

I would go with option 3 given your description of horse, living situation and weather.

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I’m in Florida, so all of this sounds terrible to me :rofl:

But…I would go back to the original blanket configuration and do the medium with the belly band and the heavy with the neck. FWIW, my hard keeper TB wears a two 200g mediums when it’s in the low 30s. One with a neck. The easy keeping TB, who grows no coat, wears a medium with a neck and a sheet in the same temps. Neither have ever been too hot.

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No shelter anywhere, or not in turnout?

As a TB owner in NY, I can just say that my mare would be pretty miserable with no shelter if that was the case. Not that you can change it now, but that would be one of the longer term solutions I would be looking for.

It’s the wind that makes it worse; my TB mare is only wearing one heavyweight blanket now, no neck cover. But they spend a lot of time in an open stall or using the barn as a windblock in weather like we’re having.

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No shelter in turnout. He’s stalled at night currently (will likely switch to reverse turnout in the summer). If the weather’s really awful (scary high winds, or heavy rain, etc.), the horses stay in. But the BM prefers them out as much as possible.

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I will add my study group of one to evidence that geldings do fine with belly bands. My gelding is the type that barely drops to urinate and he still did not have a problem with his properly fitted belly band blanket getting gross.

I used to have a lovely, 100% fur-free horse that came to Maine from California at four years old.

I wouldn’t venture to quote numbers for anybody else, but I would say that horses transplanted into cold climates do take a while acclimate. I blanketed him much more heavily than the others for a good four or five years, and he really seemed to appreciate it.

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