Monday, December 7, 2015

Weaning Nimo off of wearing a sheet

You may remember that I body clipped Nimo shortly before our OD ride in October.  I'm very glad that I clipped, given that the temperature for the ride was over 70 degrees and the humidity level was probably the same.  However, my preference (and Nimo's) is not to blanket during the winter.  If Nimo is clipped, I constantly worry that he will somehow get out of his blanket and freeze or that the staff will put the wrong one on or forget to take it off if it gets warm.  And then there is the constant checking of the temperature forecast to try to figure out if he should be wearing a sheet, a lightweight blanket, or a mid-weight blanket.  And if it rains, I have to plan to have back-up sheets/blankets on hand.  Plus, I've had terrible luck with waterproof sheets the past couple of years, so I worry that Nimo will get wet and cold.  Blankets also seem to rub his shoulders and eradicate his mane, regardless of how expensive they are or their design.

Then there's the fact that Nimo just doesn't like to wear blankets.  He has only extricated himself once, but when he did, the sheet looked like a carcass when he was done with it.

This used to be an almost brand new Rhino sheet
Nimo grows a relatively short, but very dense winter coat that protects him very well, so I like to just let him be a horse during the winter.  He is out 24/7, but he has a nice run-in shed for shelter, and he has round bales to eat, so even in cold, wet weather, he has everything he needs to stay warm and dry.

Given that I'd clipped him, though, I wasn't sure if my no-blanket strategy would work this winter.  But I wanted to try.  My plan was to gradually lower the temperature at which I put a sheet on to see if it would stimulate him to continue growing a good winter coat.  I started out by putting a sheet on when the temperature was below 55.  A week later, I lowered the temperature to 50 degrees.  Then, every week or two, I would lower it again.  Each night, I would wait until well after dark before putting the sheet on, so that the temperature would be as close as possible to my target temperature.  It also gave me a way of checking to make sure that Nimo wasn't too cold before I put the sheet on (he never was).  Then, I would have the barn staff take the sheet off in the morning (except for a couple of days when the high was not expected to be more than 5 degrees above my target temperature).

Luck was with me this year, because I don't know if we've had a temperature much below 27 degrees yet.  I have only used a sheet with no fill because Nimo tends to run pretty hot.  Even when I had him fully clipped through the winter a few years ago, I never used more than a mid-weight blanket, despite temperatures in the single digits.

My current target temperature is 25 degrees and we're actually heading into a bit of a warm spell for the next week or so, with night-time temperatures projected to be in the low 30s to the low 50s (what!!!??), so there will be no need to put a sheet on in the foreseeable future.  And I'm hopeful that once we get into January and February, where low temps do occasionally fall into the teens or even single digits, Nimo will have his full winter coat.

I am wondering, though, if we'll have a fairly mild winter.  Last winter was one of our coldest in recent memory and Nimo grew the heaviest winter coat I've seen on him.  This year, Nimo's coat is not nearly as heavy.  That could be because of the clipping I did in October or it could be because his system is better at weather forecasting than professional meteorologists:)

Regardless, I'm happy that, at least to a large degree, I've been able to wean Nimo off of wearing a sheet/blanket at night.  It gives me hope that if I do clip in October for future rides, I'll be able to do the same thing and keep him mostly blanket-free during the winter.


  1. Luck has certainly been with you! This mild weather so late is insane!

  2. I clipped Nilla in October and she has managed to grow back more hair in the shaved part that Shasta has grown in entirety. Some horses just grow thicker winter coats than others. B/c she has the different colored hairs though, the barn owner was convinced she was freezing and needed her blanket all the time. I had to show her how I could shove my fingers under her coat to convince the BO that Nilla was not going to freeze without her blanket.