A blanket is like a fire extinguisher we hope we do not need to use it. We have it ready and learn how to use it before the emergency hits. Please be prepared. Please train your donkey to accept the blanket before the emergency hits. I never blanket unless an emergency or the donkey is suffering cant move due to arthritis and age. As soon as the weather gets out of extreme cold the blanket is off. Or the vet says the stall rest is over etc., No blanket is water proof. We must use common sense.
Is It Natural To Blanket A Domesticated Equine (horse, donkey or mule) when the wind chill and snow is horrific?
First let me step back in time and share how I came to my inner peace with the natural equine world. When I was a kid with my horse in the 70’s we did not do the teeth, blanket, and we sure as heck did not do our own worming.
A few things to consider:
1. Nothing is natural about any equine living a domesticated life, even when we do our best to remove the shoes when not trail riding or use boots for trail riding. My farm is set up so all of my horses and donkeys can choose to go into their stall to eat and drink and get out of the weather if they choose. Locking any equine in a stall will make them crazy. Equine were created to walk fifteen to twenty-five miles a day. Most domesticated equine stand around and wait for their meals. Nothing is natural about living a domesticated life.
I let all of my equine grow a fur coat and I blanket as needed per individual equine, when sick or extreme wicked weather comes. I check the blankets each and every day for sores, rubbing, dampness or a loose blanket/too tight in a place etc., I replace with a dry coat as needed until the weather changes or the equine no longer needs it. Here in the Pacific Northwest, WA we do not have weather that stays in the teens very long. We go back into the 30’s pretty fast, I take the blanket off wen we are out of the serious cold wind chills or a sick equine is well. We do however have high winds and this can cause the weather to be more frigid.
I do not blanket during raining season and let them stand out in the rain. Why?
No blanket is 100% water proof in my experience, must be changed and dried, need to make sure no sores or rubbing, lot’s of work. If you leave on a wet blanket serious illness can occur. Be prepared get two blankets, this way you can dry one while using the other one. As soon as the weather is back to normal or the donkey is healthy take the blanket off.
2. When an equine live in the wild they can run and get warm, find a place to get out of the elements.
The farm we lived on for thirteen years before moving to Sequim, WA had two pole stalls I placed at the top of the hill (paddock) to stop mud.
Running on ice to get warm can cause serious injuries. Blanketing keeps our horses calm.
3. Any equine who has arthritis or is sick, surgery, or is way to young to withstand the extreme cold needs a blanket. Blanketing is hard work as you must check it every day and when it is really wet replace with a dry blanket. Sorry, no blanket is 100% waterproof for the entire winter and fall season. Thus why I only blanket when we hit the high 20’s with a wind chill in the Pacific Northwest pushing me below 0 etc., then they are locked in until well if it is raining outside. Their fur coat, warm water, hay is what keeps them warm along with their shelter.
4. When you keep their water clean and warm along with plenty of free choice low sugar hay in your slow feeder you are helping your domesticated equine to stay warm. When you walk into the barn and your equine are shivering or not moving at all frozen stiff you had better blanket. Death can be avoided from ignorance and high vet bills. Heated buckets work great simly keep the cord out of reach for the equine to not bite and get elcrocuted.
5. Not all equine need a blanket in the winter. Please use common sense and check the blanket leaving it on will cause more damage than good if it is left on wet, sores or the leg gets stuck in it.
Here is an outstanding blog I just read that prompted me to write about this. Select Blanketing is Not Bad And You Are Not Natural to read some more brilliant ways to understand why it is imperative you are prepared for a sick equine, older arthritis or the wicked winter that may or may not come.
Please use common sense when blanketing and locking your equine in a stall, after all you chose the equine and they are depending on you to learn everything you can to keep them healthy and happy.
GOD bless you and your family two and four-legged!
Melody Johnson, Trainer/Owner