Sunday, January 3, 2016

Musical blankets

My current barn doesn't really cater to show riders.  I'm probably the only client that's competition oriented.  In winter, a lot of the horses pull their shoes and chill out since their riders don't want to ride in the cold and the ice.  Even the schoolies are ditching their shoes or at least their hind shoes while their work slows down.  Most of the barn is hairy, bare foot, and happy.  Then there's poor papi.

Theo is still in shoes all around (now with rim pads and ice cleats) since he's being ridden five times a week for an hour at a shot by me.  And when I ride him, it's not plopping around at the trot for a bit.  It's strength work and jumping and other things that chip up feet.  He's also the most aggressively clipped horse.  One other horse in full training is in a trace clip, but Theo is the only one that is in a blanket clip and that was body clipped multiple times.  He's the one naked boy on the property.  It's better for his health since he's not constantly over heating and damp, but it does leave him a bit unprotected.

Since most of the horses are going au naturel, there's no blanket change service.  The horses are just wearing a turn out to keep the rain off or some of the thinner coated horses are in mediums now that we're below freezing during the day.  No need to swap out blankets except when the temps do something really radical.  This is my first time at a barn without blanket change service.

With a naked pony that leans toward getting cold and Mother Nature being ridiculously temperamental, keeping him appropriately dressed takes a lot of planning and pieces.

Theo's current wardrobe:

Baker Irish knit
Baker fleece dress sheet
Smartpak square cooler
Baker turn out sheet
Smartpak turn out blanket (medium, 220g)
Smartpak turn out blanket (heavy, 360g)
Smartpak neck rug, no fill
Smartpak neck rug, 220g

I use the Smartpak blanket app to try to manage what he needs to wear.  I'm sure every owner has played the game of trying to figure out what their horse should be wearing when temps are right on the line.  With the whacky winter we're having, that's become an almost every day thing.  It's even trickier when you need to plan for 24-36 hours between changes.  People are getting used to me wandering down the barn aisle, studying my phone and muttering about temperature ranges and fussy ponies.

This week we're managing a swing from 40* high today to a low of 2* tomorrow night.  Mother Nature needs to settle with this nonsense before she gives me the flu.  So today he spent a couple hours in his fleece sheet, enjoying the sun and a bit of hand grazing where the snow had melted back.  I specifically aimed to ride near sunset so I could blanket him for the night without him baking.  With a cold front coming in over night, temps are going to keep falling through the night and into the morning.  He needs his heavy for a morning of 19*, but it was close to 40* at sunset.  Ugh.

I ended up throwing on his heavy but leaving his neck rug off and his naked neck exposed.  The lady that was closing the barn tonight offered to throw his neck rug on after it dipped to about 30* to keep him from over heating.  This way he's all armored as the temps continue to drop without getting sweaty.  Tomorrow I may be throwing the fleece dress sheet on underneath to deal with the potential 0* night, depending on how he's doing.  He usually makes it pretty clear if he's cold, clamping his tail down and kind of huddling in on himself.

By late this week, he'll be back in his medium as temps rebound to the upper 30's.

It's a good thing he's cute, I swear I'm spending more time organizing his wardrobe choices than my own. 


  1. Totally understand your pain! I've been going through this for weeks... today the temps didn't make it out of the teens, while we had near 70 degrees the week of Christmas! It's enough to dry you crazy, hang in there!

  2. i'm so grateful my barn *does* have a blanket changing service bc with this weather recently (we went from 70* to lows of 14*, boooooo) it's such a headache trying to figure it all out!

  3. I don't have the smartpak app, but I watch the weather like crazy. Even when I'm at work and have no way of changing the blankets, I check it just to see.
    The other day my husband was home, so when I went outside and discovered it was colder/windier than expected, I called him to tell him which blankets should be on them. I'm a bit proud that he can tell which one is a medium vs. a heavy.
    I feel it is an acceptable obsession haha