What's the benefit of using an Exercise Sheet?
Posted on 23 February 2017 by Kim
What is an exercise sheet?
An Exercise Sheet is designed specifically to be worn whilst riding as protection from the cold and the rain.
Why do I need one?
You need to use an Exercise Sheet if your horse is fully clipped, thin skinned or simply just suffers from the cold. Normal rugs cannot be used as they’re not designed to be worn when riding as they hang too low, slip down and cause problems.
What are the benefits?
Warmth: Arguably the most important benefit. They provide warmth across the back, loins, croup and essential organs such as the kidneys. Warmth is essential for muscle suppleness.
They're of great benefit when warming up for a schooling session or a competition to help engage the muscles in the back and hindquarters. Remove it when you think your horse is warm enough to prevent him from sweating. Put it back on when you cool down to prevent your horse’s muscles cooling too quickly, which can cause chills and cramping.
Exercise sheets are commonly used whilst hacking out, to keep the horse’s muscles warm during slower hacks in the Autumn and Winter, which is particularly important for horses that are clipped.
In addition horses that suffer from Azoturia can benefit from wearing exercise sheets.
Waterproof: The benefit of a waterproof rug is that it keeps your horse from getting wet but more importantly, it prevents him from getting cold from the wet. Often exercise sheets that are waterproof, are usually windproof as well.
Be Seen: Many Exercise Sheets contain "reflective strips" which are practical for misty winter riding. However for hacking out on the road, your horse really need a proper Hi Viz Exercise Sheet. Any road user will be able to see your horse from a distance and from 360 degrees which is obviously highly essential for ultimate safety. This Equisafety Polite Winter Wrap Around Rug has also got great adjustable leg straps to stop the rug from blowing up if it's windy.
How will I know which one to buy?
There is an exercise sheet to suit every type of horse and rider. It’s important purchase, so before you buy one, think about what and when you’ll be using it for most.
If you ride mostly in an indoor school or in an outdoor school on dry days, a fleece exercise sheet will keep your horse warm and dry as it will wick away any moisture if he sweats.
If you ride mostly outdoors and you want a layer of protection from the elements and your horse doesn’t really suffer from the cold but you think he'd benefit from a layer of protection against the elements, try the HKM Pro Team All Stars Exercise Sheet.
Again if you ride mostly outdoors and your horse suffers from the cold on slower hacks or warming up/cooling down outside when it’s really cold, some exercise sheets combine a warm fleece lining with a waterproof outer. This fleece lined one from Mark Todd is waterproof as well. It's worth mentioning that some waterproof exercise sheets can rustle slightly with movement which can be a consideration for sensitive horses.
Thicker Exercise Sheets need to be made of a breathable material to prevent the sweat from becoming trapped between the horse’s skin and the exercise sheet. If this happens, the horse can become cold very quickly when it dries.
It's important to choose an exercise sheet which suits you as well as your horse. Not only are there Exercise Sheets designed with the horse in mind, there's also a few that provide some cover for the rider’s leg. So if you suffer from the cold, the HKM Fleece Exercise Sheet may be the one for you.