Candy’s blanket phobia

Candy is a funny little horse. She’s very sensible- if she sees something that’s a little scary, her response to to freeze and stare. After a brief assessment, she usually decides the scary thing isn’t really that bad and moves on with her life.

Except for blankets.

See, Candy had a Traumatic Blanket Incident last year, and since then, she’s been pretty certain that blankets equal impending death.

“Can I go back to Florida now? PLEASE?”

Back in early December, Oklahoma had one of those days where it was very, very cold and windy in the morning, but warmed up to a reasonable 50ish by early afternoon. Since Candy has the saddest winter coat EVER, she wears a blanket when temperatures are below 35 or so. On this particular day, I turned her out still wearing her blanket before heading to work, since my neighbor had told me she’d be happy to remove it once the weather warmed up.

Later that day, I got a text from my neighbor: “Candy’s blanket is now dead.”

Turns out my neighbor had sent one of the barn rats out to remove the blanket; the kid, who’s used to dealing with dead-broke lesson horses, started removing the blanket while Candy was loose in the field. The blanket slipped a little, scaring Candy, who bolted, trailing the blanket behind her like the scariest superhero cape in the world. Candy whizzed around the field until she was finally free of the blanket, which the kid retrieved and place in a heap in my barn.  The poor kid was possibly more scared than Candy was.

Not Candy, but I imagine this is how the incident started.

When I heard this story, I couldn’t stop laughing at my mental image of a horse galloping around with a cape and a petrified youngster trying to figure out what to do. I know, I know- Candy could have really hurt herself, it’s not nice to laugh at children, etc. But it was an honest mistake, and no one came to any harm; well, except for the poor blanket, which was a shredded heap of nylon fabric and tufts of polyester fill far beyond the skill of even the best blanket repair person.

Right after the Traumatic Blanket Incident, even the sight of a blanket would cause Candy to tremble. After a few days, she would allow herself to be blanketed, but would stand completely still unless led somewhere. Eventually, she seemed to put the TBI behind her and was happy to let me blanket and unblanket her while she ate.

However, I’m afraid we’ve had a TBI relapse. Yesterday morning, I was unclipping the leg straps of Candy’s blanket while she ate. She shifted, causing the blanket to move. Candy flung her head up, scooted backwards, and paced around her stall in a panic. I escaped out the front door to avoid being kicked or trampled and watched her nervously circle her stall until the blanket slid off and she stood shaking and staring at it. I reentered the stall, picked it up, and hung it on the blanket bar while she crept toward her feed tub to finish breakfast.

She was basically fine when I put it back on last night and took it off this morning, so I don’t think the mental damage is too great. Sigh. Poor Candy. Those blankets are surely out to get her!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

11 thoughts on “Candy’s blanket phobia”

  1. Copper has those moments sometimes too, so now I drag his butt into the barn for the on/off of blanketing. 9 times out of 10 he gives no poops, but I know the one time I try to do it in the field he’ll be ignorant haha. He’s totally chill once its on though luckily.

    1. Oh yeah, you know the ONE TIME you decide “Oh, he’ll fine” is the time he’ll be so, so not fine that you won’t even know what happened, haha! Horses are awful. 😛

  2. Poor girl! I think Ducky had something happen with blankets at some point, because when I got him he was terrified of it coming off AND going on. He was fine once it was safely secured. Very odd. Eventually he got over it. Though there was a flashback when my weekend helper at the time forgot to undo the leg straps once… That was a little ugly.
    So this one time, Jamp was enjoying a free lunge. It was just warm enough that the ground was thawed out (or we wouldn’t have been free lunging) but still cold enough that he had his turnout blanket on. He decided to run as fast as he could across the diagonal, but he failed to slow down when he had to turn and completely wiped out (scary to watch, hilarious in retrospect since he was fine). In the process of sliding across the ring on his belly, his blanket ripped open at the chest. So when he got up and started running, he ran right out of it! (Eventually, there was about a half lap of cape wearing prior to freedom.) Thankfully, he was perfectly fine, but it was definitely traumatic to watch. Jamp can’t really remember anything longer than 3-5 minutes so there were no ill effects in regards to blankets.

    1. According to my neighbor, once Candy took off, the terrified kid ran as fast as she could back up to the barn (only a couple of hundred feet away) and just stood with this horrified look on her face, struggling to get words out (which apparently turned into her going “UM UM UM” until my neighbor was like “WHAT IS WRONG, CHILD?”).

      We still laugh about it (and a lot of other things the children do).

  3. I have one horse I care for who is a seasoned barrel horse and she still trembles every time I blanket her. Unfortunately, I don’t see another way to help her besides move slowly and sometimes halter her. Hopefully Candy gets over the TBI and move on. That makes things time consuming and unsafe…
    Maybe some focused blanketing desensitizing?

  4. Poor Candy! (and poor kid!) Hopefully with time she will recover from her TBI. I had a really hard time getting Henry used to blankets at first, more than most horses. I used a lot of treats to ease the progress along haha… “wear a blanket for two seconds?” get a treat etc. It did help him a lot. Not sure how food motivated Candy is!

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