Equine Grooming 101: Winter Season

Written by: Jessica Konopinski

Published on: 01/10/2023

Pick Those Hooves!

Although picking your horses hooves should be a non-negotiable in your grooming routine for all seasons, it is especially important in the winter months. I mean, think about it. Typically, the winter months are colder and wetter in most areas. A moist environment serves as a breeding ground for fungal conditions like thrush. In order to make sure your horse is staying thrush free, picking their hooves at least once a day and investing in a quality thrush eliminating product will definitely prevent any unwanted conditions.

Another thing to consider is that with harsher weather conditions comes snow, ice, and then mud. All of these minerals can become stuck, build up, and harden under your horse's hooves. If you’re unable to make it out everyday to check on your horses hooves, you want to at least make sure you are making time to investigate when the conditions are less than ideal in the event that something could be hardening and building up underneath.

The simple answer: horse owners should determine what is most appropriate for their horse. Like humans, all horses are different. There are tons of factors that make up whether a horse can tolerate certain temperatures and it’s important to consider these before making a final decision for the winter season. To help you through this process, let’s go through some of the most crucial proponents that will help you decide whether or not your horse needs to be blanketed this winter.

Analyze Your Horse's Coat

Learning about your horse's coat can be fascinating and really allow you to get to know how these animals learn to adapt to certain environments and conditions. A horse's coat is made of longer, stiffer hair as well as soft, fluffy hair. The longer, stiffer hairs have been called “guard hairs” because of their ability to protect the soft hairs from external conditions whereas the fluffier hairs insulate the horse. Within both types of hair, a horse's natural oils can make them water resistant. [1]

With this in mind, a horse's winter coat will usually come in late summer or early fall. The level of thickness is dependent on where your horse is located geographically and how much daylight the horse is exposed to. For example, a horse that has adapted to living in Montana will grow a much thicker coat than a horse living in South Carolina because of the external temperatures. On the other hand, a show horse that is given limited turnout compared to a horse who lives outside will have a much shorter coat given their lack of exposure to direct sunlight. [1]

Forage is Everything

When determining whether or not your horse should be blanketed, considering their diet is easily one of the most crucial components. Naturally, a horse's body will begin to store away more fat in preparation for the winter season. With this being said, your horse still needs adequate nutrition and quality forage if not even more forage once the colder temperatures hit. Because hay is fermented in the horse's hindgut, this creates a great amount of heat in the horse's body. If your horse doesn’t have unlimited access to forage, you can expect them to have less of an ability to regulate their body temperature and may even find them to be more energetic as they use movement to warm themselves back up. [2]

Age and Existing Health Conditions Matter

Just because most horses can tolerate lower climates before their body temperature drops, doesn’t mean that certain conditions won’t have an affect on the horse. Depending on a horse's age and whether they have existing health conditions, it is true that most horses can do very well all winter long without a blanket. However, when factoring in age which in turn, means increase of certain health conditions, it’s important to consider whether or not your horse will be able to adapt. [3]

A common example would be if you owned an older horse who struggled to keep weight on. In this scenario, blanketing this horse would assure that they do not lose any more calories from their bodies working so hard to keep warm. On The flip side, if you own an older horse who has no existing health conditions and is a healthy weight, it is more acceptable to allow them to remain un-blanketed for the season.

Location, Weather Conditions, and Shelter

Temperature based on your location absolutely plays a large role in determining whether or not your horse will need a blanket or not, but also considering other weather conditions such as wind and rain can make an impact as well. When a horse's coat is faced with more severe external conditions like wind and rain, the hair can become compromised, making it harder for a horse's body to regulate its temperature. In these situations, if your horse does not have shelter such as a run in shed or access to a stall, blanketing them might be the best option in order to avoid possible complications. [3]

You Know Your Horse Best

Although most horses can survive a winter comfortably without a blanket, the choice is up to you (and your horse, of course). The key in making the final decision of whether or not you should blanket your horse is to figure out what you can be most consistent at. The last thing you want to do is to start one thing and move on to the next mid season. Not only will this alter the way your horse's body temperature will regulate itself, but it can also have an effect on your horse's overall behavior and ability to adapt. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from a trusted friend or professional if you're still weighing some of the options and always remember: doing what’s in your horse's best interest will always set you up for success in the long run.

Camelina Oil for Equine

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Camelina Oil for Equine


✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Follow us!

About the Author

Jessica is a brand consultant who brings awareness and intention to equestrian and pet platforms. As a former collegiate equestrian athlete and animal lover, Jessica leads with passion and experience through her writing and brand work for companies who advocate for creating a difference in their space. When she's not riding her horse or walking her dog (with iced coffee in hand), you can find her sharing her love for health and wellness with others and integrating these practices in her everyday work.