....I am changing Harley's turnout routine back to 24/7. My in-at-night experiment barely lasted three weeks. Although, my horse looked blissfully happy tucked in his stall with his dinner buffet, there have been repercussions. My horse has started coughing. Unacceptable. I noticed that he coughed a couple times when I was riding last weekend, but I thought that it might be the change in weather. He does seem to get mild seasonal allergies (sneezing, coughing, and occasional slight eye puffiness). When the pollen is high, we sneeze together. We make a nice chorus, but it is nothing serious or lasting. Then my barn owner called and said that Harley was coughing in his stall in the morning. No fever and a healthy appetite, but I still called the vet and he is being treated. I also spoke to the vet about returning to 24/7 turnout and blanketing. Harley has been out all day and all night for two years straight with the exception of blizzards, tropical storms, and hurricanes (Irene!) and has not suffered any illnesses. In at night for two weeks and he is coughing. Hmmm. This does not feel much like a coincidence and after speaking with my vet, the decision is easy. My horse will once again be coming in for meals only and will be walked back out for his evening hay and the night with his good buddy, Cisco. Cisco's mom will be very happy about this! We both keep our horses bare and were commiserating about keeping them stalled at night. Her trimmer (the same woman who taught me how to trim) could tell that Cicso was no longer turned out all night, just by looking at his feet. I had not noticed any detrimental changes in Harley's feet, but my eye is not as trained as hers, so that could also have been possible.
|Doesn't he look cozy? I am liking this.|
After reading like one-hundred million reviews, setting up and canceling several shopping carts, and shutting down my computer in despair at least half a dozen times, I finally decided to buy him a Landa Freestyle turnout blanket of medium weight by Weatherbeeta. Please do not tell me that this blanket is going to fall apart. After all that reading and researching, I just cannot take it!
Here is my question: When should I blanket Harley?
My vet has given me her input and since we are past the fifteenth of November, he has probably reached his coat's maximum thickness, which is THICK. I have never observed him shivering or huddled in the paddock during the winter. In fact, he is usually out and about, walking around like he does all year round. He has access to a shelter and I also purchased a fleece cooler which could double as an extra liner if need be. I do not own a heavy weight blanket. The reason I am considering blanketing at all is because his body reveals that he has lost weight and condition when he sheds out in the spring. I do not live at the farm so I am not available to change/remove blankets during the day. New Jersey can get very cold (freezing and below) in late December continuing into February.
I am curious to read your advice. What do you think?