Janczarek, I., Wiśniewska, M., Wnuk-Pawlak, E. et al. 2020. Effects of horse blankets on the physiological and motion parameters of geriatric horses. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 38, 32-37.
This study analyzed the rectal and surface temperature of the horse's body, its heart rate variability parameters, and the step length when walking and trotting geriatric horses using blankets with various thermoinsulating properties. Twenty-four hot-blooded geldings were included in the study. The experiment was conducted in winter over a period of 30 consecutive days. The horses in the study were kept under three types of blankets (light, medium, thick). The control group was kept without blankets. The rectal and surface body temperature and the HRV parameters were measured before the experiment, immediately after the blankets were removed and an hour later. The step length when walking and trotting was measured before the experiment and the day before it was finished. The use of horse blankets in winter was found to have a positive effect on increasing the surface temperature of geriatric horses and thicker blankets produced more significant effects. For thick winter blankets, since one would expect an increase in the rectal temperature and elongation of the trotting step, it is recommended that they should be used at all times for geriatric horses prone to hypothermia and horses with painful muscles in the hind legs and the shoulder as the most common cause of reducing the length of the trotting step. The use of blankets should also result in a general body vitality improvement, which is demonstrated by a general increase in the activity of the autonomic nervous system, especially the sympathetic system.