An exercise rug, also called a quarter sheet, is a great way to keep your horse comfortable when you’re riding in cold or inclement weather. They are especially appropriate to prevent chills in horses that are always clipped and blanketed. If you clip your horse in winter, using a quarter sheet or exercise rug may be a necessity. Exercise rugs, (known as quarter sheets since they cover a horse’s hindquarters) are also called riding blankets because they’re worn during riding. They come in two basic types to serve different purposes:
One version is made of a waterproofed material, usually nylon, and shields a horse’s back and hindquarters during wet weather. A water proof quarter sheet is useful to have on hand for special events such as shows, hacking, and trail rides during which your horse may be exposed to the elements. It does not provide excessive warmth, but can make your horse more comfortable if you ride in inclement weather.
Another version is made of either a synthetic fleece fabric or traditional wool. This type keeps a horse’s back and hind end warm during cold weather workouts. It can be used throughout a ride depending on a combination of the horse’s physical condition, whether he is clipped, how hard he is working, and the temperature. It can also be used just for the warm-up phase of a workout and then replaced at the end of a ride to prevent hot muscles from getting chilled.
Exercise rugs can vary slightly in style. Some are designed to be placed over the saddle pad but under the saddle; these remain in place during the cold-weather ride. Other versions have hook and loop closures at the front that enable the rider to easily remove the rug after warm-up and then replace it after the workout for the cool-down phase. Some have cutout designs for the rider’s seat, or can be worn over the rider’s thigh as well as the horse’s hindquarters. Exercise rugs come in a variety of colors and can be custom made.