Winter Coats

The rabbit is reveling in this cold weather. She’s oh so ready for the impending snow storm. Her fur coat is all she needs.



The goats have an undercoat of thick fur, and then longer hairs on top, which make for toasty warm jackets. Add the fact that their digestive systems are like hot composters – generating warmth from the inside out – and they couldn’t care less about the cold weather (although they do miss having browse and grass!)

Pip talking


As long as the chickens have dry, clean bedding, (I use Koop Clean) and plenty of indoor space with windows for sunshine, they couldn’t care less.



The dogs don’t worry about the cold. Scooter knows how to make use of laps and blankets.



What you might find surprising is that the one animal that I worry about in the cold is my horse. Some horses grow heavy winter coats. Here’s Cider. Even his face and ears are furry! Most days, he gets turned out in the paddock without any additional protection. When the wind is whipping around, and the temperature truly frigid, like it was yesterday, he wears a light sheet.



But other horses need more. Lano grew as thick a coat as Cider. So thick that when he is ridden, he sweats and gets wet, and it takes ages for him to dry, which is a health risk. So, he had some of his fur clipped off (see along the bottom of his neck?) and he wears a heavy blanket outside. See his mane flying in the wind? His ears were back because trees were rattling and spooking him – however, not so much that Lano was going to stop eating! (To see Lano more relaxed, take a look at this video of him snoring.)



Some horses simply don’t grow a dense winter coat. Tonka is one of them. It is thicker than his sleek summer coat, but not by much. Maybe it’s because he grew up in Texas. But he’s been up north now for four years, and he still gets cold. I’ve ended up buying him more and better winter clothes than I have for myself!

horse winter blanket


His paddock-mate Maggie, also has a naturally thin winter coat. Yesterday, she had on two blankets.



It’s a good thing that horses don’t worry if their butts look big.

laughing horse


  1. I never knew all of this before! I just thought all horses were created equal, I did notice that some horses are more furry than others! Very interesting post, enjoyed much, it is:)

  2. Let me just say that Tonka is a beautiful horse and that winter coat is to die for. We are staring down a winter storm of epic proportions. My dogs are all nestled around the fire except my little husky who you cannot get to come in from the cold – but yet I insist. Stay safe and warm.

  3. I had wondered why I have seen some horses in fields with coats on and others with no coats. I too hadn’t thought about them having different coats but when you think about it dogs have very different coats. Tonker is exceptionally beautiful.

  4. And then there are those you think should be wearing blankets who completely disagree with your assessment and become Houdinis at getting out of their clothes. :D GREAT timing on that last pic!

  5. What about their legs and feet? Don’t they get cold being exposed like that?

    • Good question. Horses’ legs have very little besides sinew and bone in them. Their hooves are designed to absorb impact and pump blood. They don’t need warmth to function properly, and if they stand in cold snow, the rest of the horse won’t get chilled – not like us standing in snow!

  6. Monday it was sunny, 11 degrees and no wind. Didn’t bother my hens they spent several hours in the yard doing what chickens do.

    Its hard to convince chicken beginners heat in the coop is not necessary.

  7. I remember well sneaking dirty horse blankets into laundromats to use the huge capacity commercial machines. (My retroactive apologies to all the laundromat owners who had to pull clumps of god-knows-what out of their filters. I was young…I loved my horses…I knew not.) Terri, have you ever used the separate wooly liners under Tonka’s blanket? We used to call them ‘sweaters’ as they were one piece, no surcingles or buckles and just slipped over their heads. I used them on thin skinned Thoroughbreds, and of course, on the very sweet, lame carriage horse rescue–along with his pink leg warmers. All joking aside, they made all the difference because they are fairly form fitting under the stiffer outer blankets, trap their body heat well, and they’re easy to wash. Tonka looks wonderful, Maggie looks well loved, and what a clever name ‘Cider’ is… but I’ll never be able to look at a picture of Lano again without giggling under my breath at his snoring. :)

    • I’m embarrassed to say that I did that too – but that was at a time when I’d wash my clothes in with the polo wraps so I wasn’t a good judge of what was appropriate! They don’t make those wooly liners anymore. Now that blankets are made out of such high-tech materials, I don’t think there’s a need. BTW, Cider is the color of apple cider. It is a great name for a wonderful little horse.

  8. Interesting. I, too have noticed some horses near me wearing winter clothes, and some not. Now I know why… Yes, Tonka is absolutely beautiful and I never get tired of seeing new pictures of him… Oh my gosh, that last picture Is SO perfect, like you had her pose to illustrate the text… And lastly I must admit I do have a heater in the chicken coop, but it’s for when I’M in there. i mean they may not need it, but it makes working conditions a lot better for me while they go outside.

  9. Lovely photo of Cider. My pony was a liver chestnut and in winter had the thickest winter coat and he looked much darker in colour. The horses were stabled overnight and wore, what we called, a Jute rug. During the day, out in the field, we didn’t need to put extra rugs on them. He resembled a great big teddy bear (and that winter coat took some brushing!). You have brought back lovely memories, as it is a long time since I had “Merlin”. Once I got married I had to sell him and have never been in the position to have another. I’ll always have the memories though! Kind regards.

    • I’ve shown your comment to Cider’s owner. Cider is what’s called “plain chestnut” – no white markings at all, so not as flashy as the other horses, and so he doesn’t always get all of the “oohs” and “ahhs” that the other horses get – but he deserves them!

  10. Cider might be all one colour, but “plain” definitely not – he’s beautiful!!

  11. I know the birds and I love Koop Clean per your advice! Thanks so much! I have poop tables with pdz (probably catching 80 – 90% of the indoor waste) and Koop Clean on the floor and in the nest boxes. It stays so fresh and clean and (most importantly) dry. Every now and again I toss a pile of dried oak leaves and wood shavings over the bedding in the middle of the coop after they have gone up to roost. Just something to switch things up to entertain them and keep them busy in the morning before the pop door goes up. Once the door goes up they stay mainly in the covered pen until bedtime. I just rake the Koop Clean around a bit, & lift out any waste I find. I shouldn’t need to replace till spring. Wish I could say the same for the straw in the pen. LOL.