Why a Hot Bran Mash Doesn’t Keep Your Horse Warm, and other Blanketing Myths Busted with Dr. DeBoer

Why a Hot Bran Mash Doesn’t Keep Your Horse Warm, and other Blanketing Myths Busted with Dr. DeBoer

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, the time comes once more for the biggest decision of the winter: Do you blanket your horse, or not? And, which one? (Heavy, medium, medium-light, neck or no neck?!) 

Some riders put a sheet on at the slightest sign of a chill, while others keep their horses bare regardless of outside conditions. And of course, there are the temperature charts that pop up each year, which are meant to apply hard and fast rules to blanketing, but never actually seem to. 

In this episode of Equestrian Voices, host Caroline Culbertson sits down with Dr. Michelle DeBoer of the University of Wisconsin, who has a PhD in Animal Science and whose research delves into this singular question of horse ownership. 

In their extremely informative discussion, they discuss all things blanketing, and some of the ancillary topics blanketing invariably brings up, including:

  • Thermoregulation, and how horses use it to keep themselves warm (and how clipping alters that process)

  • Why thinking that if you’re cold, then your horse is also cold, is incorrect

  • How breeds, body size, and age should affect your blanketing choices

  • Why a hot bran mash doesn’t actually help keep our horses warm (though it does warm our hearts!)

  • Whether or not blanketing early in the season means you have to continue to blanket all season

  • What outside factors to take into consideration when thinking about blanketing besides just the weather

To learn more about Dr. DeBoer's work, check out her Equine PhD page. You can read a summary of the Norway study referenced in this episode here.

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