Considerations for Blanketing When Trailering Your Horse

Updated December 8, 2022
A horse in blanket loading onto a trailer.

Planning your horse’s blankets carefully when trailering in the colder months will make traveling a positive and comfortable experience for your horse. Below are factors to consider when making decisions on blanketing when trailering.

Coat Length: Body Clipped or Winter Full Coat?

If you’re keeping your horse heavily blanketed or in a heated barn this winter, we can assume that she’s body clipped. That means whenever your horse goes outside, she’ll need a blanket because she no longer has her natural winter coat to protect her from cold, especially when it’s windy and rainy. So, your horse will probably need a blanket whenever she’s hauled, too.

Stop to check underneath your horse’s blankets to feel if she’s warm, sweating, or even shivering, as feeling her will be a good indicator of how much clothing your horse needs to keep comfortable.

Fresh Air and Travel Buddies

First, if you have a small two horse trailer with solid walls and another horse alongside her, your horse will only need a sheet or light blanket because these two horses will give off heat that won’t be lost in the wind. Be sure to crack open some of the windows (especially in the ceiling) so there is proper ventilation, and the horses get plenty of fresh air. On the other hand, if your horse will be traveling alone in a stock trailer with open sides, she’ll need a fairly heavy blanket.

Horses Handle Temperatures Differently Than People

A paint horse on a trailer looking out the window.

Even if it’s January and the ground is frozen, if it’s a warm day (like in the 50°s or 60°s Fahrenheit) your horse may only need a sheet, even if she’s in an open trailer. Remember that the “thermoneutral zone” for horses—where they’re neither too hot nor too cold—is said to be between 20° and 60°F, cooler than for us. However, if it’s below this, we recommend considering using a medium to heavy blanket or layering a couple of light ones.

How Long Will Your Horse Be in the Trailer?

How far and how fast will you be going? A quick 10-mile trip down backroads won’t warrant as much protection against the cold as four hours on the interstate. So, take your travel route and time into consideration when you’re deciding how to dress your horse.

Don’t Blanket a Wet Horse

Make sure your horse is completely dry before you load her into the trailer. If you’re in a hurry, speed up this process by hand-walking her in a cooler designed to wick away moisture. Then put your dry horse under a dry sheet or blanket for the trip and she should be in great shape! If your horse is sweating a lot, consider adding an electrolyte or salt to her meals this winter, at least around the days you’ll be traveling and competing. It’s easy and inexpensive insurance against dehydration and the ills that can come from it, such as colic.

Learn More

The information provided in the Horsemanship Library is based solely on our SmartPak authors' opinions. SmartPak strongly encourages you to consult your veterinarian or equine professionals regarding specific questions about your horse's health, care, or training. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or behavior and is purely educational.

Originally published November 13, 2009