What is a Horse Cooler?

Horse Coolers are essential to keeping your horse warm, dry, and happy as a must-have in every rider's blanket collection. Whether your horse entered the barn from turnout sopping wet from rain or snow or worked up a sweat after a long ride, you will want to fit an absorbent cooler on them.

Just like people, horses can catch chills. During a workout, a horse’s body temperature rises to stay warm. After exercising, the horse’s temperature will begin to decrease or “cool.” Without a cooler, the horse will feel the cold air and risk getting chills. By blanketing your horse in a cooler, the fabric will absorb moisture, wicking it away and trapping body heat. Coolers come in especially handy when tacking up a clipped horse since you can move the cooler around their body as needed to keep them warm as long as possible before a ride.

Coolers are worth the investment to ensure your horse remains comfortable whether clipped or has a naturally heavy winter coat. There are many options for horse coolers nowadays, so you are bound to find one that best meets your horse’s needs all year round.

The Different Types of Horse Coolers

Horse coolers are commonly found in fleece or wool, the most absorbent and warm materials. Fleece coolers come in quarter sheets, allowing your horse’s back muscles and hindquarters to stay warm during a ride. While you are most likely to outfit your horse in a cooler or quarter sheet during the colder months, you may opt for a scrim or anti-sweat sheet during the summer due to their lighter fabrics.

Wool Cooler vs Fleece Cooler

Fleece Coolers

Fleece Coolers are the most popular choice for riders regarding warming up and drying off their horses after a sweaty workout, wet and chilly turnout session, or a bath. Various fleece coolers and sizes are available, from full-body coolers that include the neck down to the hindquarters with an attached or removable neck to fancy show coolers with attractive braids for that extra eye appeal at competitions. Some fleece coolers are also designed to comfortably fit over a western saddle with a reinforced hole for the horn, perfect for waiting between classes at horse shows. Although less commonly found, square fleece coolers are not as fitted as a typical modern-day cooler. Usually, they have two front ties, a browband cord, a tail cord instead of front closures, elastic leg straps, and/ or belly surcingles.

Wool Coolers

Wool Coolers are a classic as they are known to be durable, high-quality fabric that is usually thicker than traditional fleece or cotton coolers. Some riders prefer wool coolers because they believe the natural oils in the fibers smooth the horse’s coat out better and prevent static buildup. On the other hand, true wool coolers may not be as machine washable as fleece or wool blend coolers since you do not want to risk the material shrinking. Like fleece coolers, wool coolers can be found in various styles and sizes, from a contoured full-body fit to a square design.

Scrim Cooler vs Quarter Sheet

Quarter Sheets

Designed to cover your horse’s back and hindquarters while riding, Quarter Sheets are a great choice to keep your horse from cooling out too quickly in the cold air. They also help prevent your horse’s muscles from stiffening by adding that extra layer of warmth. Quarter sheets are fastened at the front, under your saddle, or over your legs, with a secure hook, loop closure, and a tail cord. Some riders enjoy using a quarter sheet to drape over themselves and their horses while mounted in between classes at shows or on the trails to remain dry, warm, and clean from the elements. Since quarter sheets are often worn while riding, some are conveniently constructed with waterproof features. Both fleece, wool coolers, and quarter sheets can be embroidered and customized for competition awards or a personal touch around the barn.

Scrims and Anti-Sweat Sheets

If you are considering blankets that are better suited for warmer months as you look to dry your horse more quickly after a bath or keep them clean and bug-free, scrims and anti-sweat sheets might be the ideal option. Scrim sheets are thin, netted, or mesh material that repels dust and bugs while standing in a stall, tied at the trailer, or waiting beside the ring at a horse show while appearing tidier than a regular flysheet. In contrast, anti-sweat sheets are a knit or woven material, typically in a cotton blend, that ventilates and wicks away moisture or sweat, like a cooler, but without the additional warmth. These sheets are used after exercising or a bath to dry the horse faster while maintaining a clean coat, an extra benefit for shows. Scrim and anti-sweat sheets are designed with lighter-weight fabrics than conventional coolers. They are the perfect go-to for drying off your horse and maintaining a polished coat during the summer without overheating them.

How a Cooler Should Fit Your Horse

No horse cooler should be long enough that your horse can easily step on the loose fabric. Fortunately, most coolers are fitted with coverage similar to a regular horse blanket. Depending on your preference, some coolers might be a little looser than others without surcingles around the belly. Your horse’s cooler should still fit comfortably on their withers and shoulders, allowing enough room to move freely without the fabric slipping off, just like a traditional blanket. Be sure to consider your horse’s conformation when determining the type of wither or shoulder fit and the length across the body.

When to Layer Your Horse’s Cooler

Layering is not just for people, either. You can place a cooler under the regular blanket if your horse needs supplemental warmth on a particularly wet or strenuous day. Ensure that all straps, bands, and surcingles are appropriately secured, and your horse cannot get caught in anything. Anti-sweat sheets are another option to layer under your horse’s blanket, depending on if you have a cooler or need a fresh layer. Be careful not to leave a saturated cooler on for too long, such as overnight, as you do not want to promote a moist environment for skin infections or irritations to grow.

Once your horse’s cooler is wet, and your horse is all dry and cozy, you can remove their layer. Your horse is then free to be blanketed (or not) as normal. Even though finding the right cooler(s) for your horse may seem exhausting, the time and effort in layering your horse properly are worth it. A comfortable horse is often happy, and maintaining their beautiful coats is important to ensuring they enjoy healthy lives.

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