Gear Horse Care

Should You Ever Blanket a Wet Horse?

Horse in cooler
Written by Natalie Gasper

The short answer? It depends on the blanket.

If your horse works up a sweat in the cold, using a cooler can help wick away the moisture. You may decide to leave a cooler on overnight, if you cover it with a turnout sheet—but the strong preference is to let your horse dry before blanketing. Clipping is a great solution to avoid prolonged cooldowns, but be prepared to keep your horse blanketed all winter long.

Blanketing Basics

Blankets with no fill block the wind or keep a horse dry. Those with medium or heavy fill are best in colder climates. Then there are coolers, used to wick away moisture.

What happens if you put a blanket on a wet horse?

If you put a regular blanket on a wet horse, it’ll absorb the moisture and lose its ability to warm the horse—increasing the risk of chill. It could also cause rubbing.

Winter Equine Management

Managing a horse in the winter can be tricky, but not impossible. Let’s explore some of the solutions.

Winter Coat Management

A light riding schedule means a low-maintenance, clipping-free coat. If you keep your horse in regular or heavy work, clipping may be the best way to tackle the winter months.


  • Blanketing – Perfect for horses who are young, elderly, underweight, or clipped (whether a little or a full-body clip).
  • Lights – Using artificial lights can trick your horse into not growing a winter coat. If you go this route, you’ll need to blanket.
  • Clipping – Many riders, especially in southern states, opt to clip their horses to make cooldowns faster and easier.
Clipped horse

Photo Cred: Canva

How to Cool Down a Horse in Winter

Do at least ten minutes of walking once you’re done riding. You can also use a wool or polar fleece cooler to help wick moisture away.

Here’s a great video about how to cool down your horse quicker so you can blanket dry: 

Coolers for Horses

Coolers are a life-saver when your horse works up a sweat in winter. They help wick moisture and cool your horse down faster.

What types of fabrics are coolers made from?

Wool or polar fleece are the most common fabrics.

centaur horse cooler

Click to see coolers at Amazon

How long should you leave a cooler on a horse?

Most horses will cool within 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the temperature and the intensity of the workout.

Can you leave a cooler on a horse overnight?

If you need to leave a cooler on overnight, make sure to put a turnout sheet on over it.

Post workout horses

Photo Cred: Canva

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do you warm up a wet horse?

Put on a cooler and hand walk him for ten minutes. Provide ample access to hay, which helps generate body heat.

Q: How do you dry a wet horse fast?

I like to rub him dry with a towel, leaving the hair upright, then put on a wool cooler (or two or three!). You can feed him hay while you wait for the cooler to work its magic.

Q: Do horses get cold in the rain?

A horse’s coat keeps him warm by keeping air between the hair and the skin. When they get wet, this pocket is gone, so they can get cold, fast. Many owners like to use a waterproof turnout sheet on unclipped horses to help them stay dry.

Parting Thoughts

Whether you opt for less riding or clipping, managing your horse’s coat in the winter can be as simple as a good blanket.

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About the author


Nancy loves retraining off the track Thoroughbreds and working with her dogs!