Exercise rugs are also known as quarter sheets as they cover the horse’s hindquarters during exercise. These rugs are available 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. The Mark Todd Waterproof Exercise Sheet is an example of this style, which is useful to have on hand for events such as shows, parades and trail rides during which your horse might be exposed to wet weather. It does not provide excessive warmth, but will ensure your horse remains more comfortable if you ride in inclement weather.
The other style of exercise rug is usually made of a fleece fabric. The Mark Todd Fleece Exercise Rug is an example of this type, which keeps a horse’s back and hindquarter warm during cold weather workouts. It can be used throughout a ride depending on a combination of a 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 training session and then replaced at the end of a ride to prevent hot muscles from getting chilled and cooling down too quickly.
For some horse and rider combinations, an exercise rug is an absolute necessity during the cold weather months and it can see daily use during winter. The rugs are especially useful to prevent muscle chills and spasms in horses that are always blanketed and clipped.
Exercise rugs do vary slightly in design. Some are designed to be placed over the saddle pad, but under the saddle – these rugs typically remain in place during the entire training session. 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 cut-out designs to accommodate the rider’s leg, or can be worn over the rider’s thigh as well as the horse’s hindquarters. Choosing a design will depend on your own personal preference and type of training.