Anonymous asked in PetsHorses · 9 months ago

Why does my horse shiver so easily?

She’s not actually mine but a friends. She’s a mustang mare that came from out west and as soon as it gets cold, she’s the first to come in shivering. It’s been like this for the past 3-4 years that they owned her. She grows a nice coat, has a good amount of weight on her, and eats at a round base basically all day. Just yesterday we had a snow storm and all of the horses came in with a blanket of snow on their backs but hers was melted and she was the only one shivering like crazy. My friend is at a loss as to what’s wrong. One would think that she’d have adapted by now. My horse is a domestic that came from down south and even she adapted to the cold well. 

6 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    All horses shiver at least a little bit in the cold. We've got a TB gelding right now who shivers when it gets cold, too. Shivering is a natural thing that horses do when it gets cold, even if they have a winter coat. Along with eating a lot of hay, it's how they keep themselves warm. The only time it's a problem is if the horse is doing it to the extent that they lose weight. Ours don't normally do that, and they live outside year round, even in the winter. They've got sheds they can stand under to get out of the wind, snow, and rain, and we use a tank heater to keep the water trough open. We feed more hay when it's really cold than we would if it were warmer, because horses need hay more so than they do grain to keep warm. But otherwise, we don't blanket anybody if we can help it. People put blankets on horses to make THEMSELVES feel better, not because the horse benefits from it- and most DON'T. The only time blankets make sense is if a horse has been clipped, either partially or fully, and is in hard work or heavy training in the winter. Ours aren't, and never will be. Winter is our off season, and where I live, we respect the fact that nature meant for horses to grow winter coats for a REASON.

    I think that in this Mustang's case, she must have come from SoCal, where the deserts are, and where it is warm pretty much year round. If so, that would explain her inability to adapt to cold easily. I'm not sure that putting a blanket on her is a good idea, however. Horses have to be taught to accept blankets, just like they have to learn to accept everything else we put on them. A mare like this, who was born feral, may not be tolerant of having something like a blanket on her for long periods of time. But her owner should try it and see, if she thinks that will help.

  • 9 months ago

    If the others come in with a blanket of snow, that means their coats are keeping their body heat in, so it doesn't melt.  They have good coats.

    But your mare is coming in just wet and shivering, no snow coat, so she does NOT have a good coat.  She probably lacks the dense undercoat most animals get in winter; it's possible she lacks the oil in that coat, or possible she is unable to fluff up the hairs to keep warmer.

    Some amount of shivering will not hurt them, and will even help them exercise the little muscles that lift the hair.  If she stops shivering later in the season, then she's most likely exercised those muscles (same muscles that cause goose bumps) and just needs the time in early winter.

    How long does your friend give her to adjust every winter?  If you start stabling her this early, or you give up and throw a blanket on her this early, she has had no chance to adapt to the cold and never will.

    It is best to keep the horses outside with a run-in shelter as long as possible, and only use artificial methods to keep her warm when it gets real cold.  If you blanket at 20F, then they're going to freeze at -20F no matter what you do.  

    I do not blanket any of my horses,  unless they are ill or too old to regulate their body temperature, or have not had the opportunity to accllimate to the cold weather.  I've kept horses in places the temps got down to -40F; the horses had no issues.  From drafty ponies to Arabians and Thoroughbreds, NONE of them have ever needed blankets.

    I suspect your friend is not giving the horse long enough in the fall before blanketing, but of course I can't tell from here.

  • 9 months ago

    Maybe time for a WATERPROOF blanket.  I've had TB's my whole life and have only ever had one that did not need blanketing.  I tried with the others, but by the end of January they looked like like hell...even coming in at night and 2 grains a day plus unlimited hay.  They just could not tolerate cold, and my grain bill went through the roof trying to keep wieght on them.  I found it better for them to put a waterproof light blanket on them when it was 45 degrees or less.

  • PR
    Lv 7
    9 months ago

    Maybe, a vet could answer this question. Perhaps a blanket would help. If snow melts on her, she may feel wetter than the other horses, thus shivering.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
    Lv 7
    9 months ago

    She is problery smart enough to shiver and shake the snow off. Horses have been suriving in the wilds for years on there own.

  • Anonymous
    9 months ago

    If you can't remember who owns the horse you probably don't remember the last time it saw a Vet.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.