How and Why to Use an Exercise Rug
Exercise rugs, also known as quarter sheets because they cover a horse's hindquarters or riding blankets because they're worn during riding, 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. The Rider's International Waterproof Exercise Rug is an example of this type, which is useful to have on hand for special events such as shows, parades 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.
The other version of exercise rug is made of either a synthetic fleece fabric or traditional wool. The Rider's International Fleece Exercise Rug is an example of this type, which 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 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 workout and then replaced at the end of a ride to prevent hot muscles from getting chilled.
For some horse and rider teams, an exercise rug is indispensable for cold weather riding and it can see daily use in cold weather climates. They are especially appropriate to prevent chills in horses that are always blanketed and clipped.
Exercise rugs 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 also be custom made.
Sizing Exercise Rugs
Manufacturers vary in their sizing for exercise rugs. You will find some that offer one-size-fits all solutions, such as you'll find with the Rider's International Fleece. This sizing is generally appropriate for horses that require a 76, 78, 80 or 82 size blanket, but may be too large for smaller horses. You can order a custom exercise rug according to a pair of standard blanket sizes, such as 74/76 or 78/80. These are crafted of quality wool offered in a range of colors that you can pair with your choice of trim color and style of tail cord. Still other manufacturers offer exercise rugs in small, medium and large cuts with standard blanket size ranges falling into the three sizing categories. The Rambo Newmarket Quarter Sheet is offered with this type of sizing.
When sizing an exercise rug, you need to make sure that it is roomy enough to accommodate a horse's natural movement. Conversely, it should not be so large as to allow it to shift or have dangling fabric that could become caught on an object.
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