Look around most indoor rings and you’ll see riders using a variety of fleeces, scrims and other garments as “coolers.” While they may all look fairly similar, different materials and styles can make a big difference in your horse’s comfort.
Think Fleece First
Fleece is the perfect material for keeping your horse comfy, cozy, and dry. Fleece coolers come in three common styles, each with a slightly different purpose.
Best for: Riding
While it offers the least coverage, this cut has the advantage of being usable for your entire ride. Though it’s small, it still covers the major muscles in the back and hindquarters.
Best for: Security
This style usually features a front buckle and surcingle, so it offers the most security if you want to leave it on your horse when he’s cooling out and drying in his stall.
Best for: Unclipped horses
Offering the most coverage, this cut is ideal for horses with unclipped necks, which get sweaty during rides and need to cool out completely.
Similar, but Different
These two pieces of apparel are often used like coolers, but they actually have slightly different purposes.
Best for: Show days
Essentially a dressier version of a cooler, dress sheets are usually made from a more luxurious material, like wool.
Best for: Warmer weather
Made with an openweave cotton or polyester blend, the large holes facilitate increased airflow over the skin. Great after baths.
Not all materials are created equal. Choose the one that’s best for you and your horse.
Wool is extremely absorbent, but not as fast-drying as synthetics, so you don’t want to leave it on a sweaty horse too long in chilly weather. It does lock in body heat, so it’s great as a dress sheet.
Soft and highly absorbent, cotton is great for facilitating drying in warmer weather. Since it soaks up a lot of the moisture itself, it’s not the best choice for winter rides.
Lightweight and highly breathable, fleece has the unique ability to retain its insulating properties even when wet. It also doesn’t absorb moisture, but instead wicks it away. This combination makes it ideal for cold weather riding.