To Blanket or Not to Blanket...And Clipping?

Hi, All,

I recently moved my new girl to a barn that is very well insulated (and even minimally heated to keep water from freezing) during the winter (I’m in Kansas, so though we don’t have Michigan-style winters, it’s pretty common for temps to drop into the single digits, and we have snow for most of December-Feb most years). The barn also has a warm (stays around 45 degrees) indoor arena for winter riding.

I’ve never had the luxury of owning a horse in a well-insulated winter barn. My girl is on turnout for 6 hours each day, comes in for lunch, and then is in the barn all night. Since I’ve never had an indoor in the winter and my horses have always been pasture horses before, I’ve never bothered with blanketing–both horses I’ve owned in the past simply got wooly, and their work dropped to once a week putzing around, due to the weather.

However, now that I have the facilities to work through the winter (focusing on dressage with the occasional jumping lesson), I plan to do so. I’ll be riding her 4-5 times a week, moderately, as I want to keep her in shape, though not quite full work like in the summer.

I don’t plan on showing anytime soon, so keeping her show-clipped isn’t a huge concern of mine. But I figure if she’s going to be worked, she will probably at least need a strip clip.

What do you all do with horses in similar situations? Should I let her grow her coat out, and just invest in a good cooler for after rides (and would she be too hot inside with a full coat)?Strip clip and let her grow a coat? Blanket her? (and if so, with what? Just a liner+turnout? What weights?)

I know there is probably a million different ways to go about this and it may largely be personal preference, but as I’ve always had pasture horses with very limited winter facilities, I’m all new to the world of heated stable+turnout, clipping, and blankets, and wanted to get some expert opinions!



I had my guy in the Midwest last year, in a barn w/attached indoor that was insulated and minimally heated as well (35-40 degrees tops). He’s a TB and got pretty wooly, so he had a regular trace clip and was blanketed. He’d be out 8 hrs during the day (up to -30 windchill). If you know you’re going to be working her regularly (several times a week) and not just putzing around, I would absolutely suggest a trace or hunter clip (or chaser clip, something more than just a bib). If she gets a full coat, working her in 40-ish degree temps in the indoor will make her sweat a lot, and neither of you want to deal with that, it’s not healthy nor time friendly. Have a lightweight (turnout sheet), medium, and heavy rug available to use depending on the temps and how much you clip.

Spend some time searching on this forum about clipping/blanketing because you’ll get lots of info from old threads.

If I’m working a horse through the winter I clip. Period. I truly hate waiting…and waiting…and waiting…for a furry horse to dry off. Seems it can easily take longer than the ride, particularly if you need to be somewhere else!

So, my answer is clip and blanket.

So where I live we have lots of days in the 30s and 40s, with fewer days in the 20s or less. I keep my horses in regular work (dressage lessons, jump schools) all winter, but they live out 24/7 and are on self care.
I do a modified bib clip – underside of neck, chest, across shoulders, and flank/belly to just behind the girth.
They stay warm this way - I only put sheets on for cold rain/sleet - but cool out well on all but the mildest of days. I keep a hair dryer handy for those days.

I would do a fairly minimal clip for starters - you can always take more off!

My TB girl doesn’t seem to grow much of a coat. She was moved from central coast CA to 4000 ft CA mountains last January. Kept checking her to see if she needed a blanket last winter but she seemed to do fine (it was also a fairly mild winter). Has a good shelter. She loved the snow! This year I am also going to try to avoid blankets. If needed I’ll do a very minimal clip. Our temps can fluctuate drastically from night to day so blankets often need to be changed- a pain since ideal blanket changing times are probably 9:00 or 10:00 am and 4:00 or so pm. Not compatible with my work schedule.

I would wait to clip this year until you see how much work you actually plan on doing and if she actually gets sweaty. Some horses don’t sweat as much as others and sometimes we don’t really ride that hard. I at least like to have a blanket available but I wouldn’t use it unless she appeared to be cold.