Through the winter months some horses may need additional protection from the elements. While they are in the stable and field horses wear rugs, but what about during exercise? 

What is an exercise sheet? 

An exercise sheet (also known as a quarter sheet) is a shortened rug designed to cover the horse’s hindquarters while he is ridden. There are many types of exercise rug on the market to suit different horses, uses and weather conditions.  

Some styles of exercise sheet are designed to sit under the saddle during use; others sit behind the saddle or wrap around the rider and can be removed easily once the horse has warmed up. 

Types of exercise sheet 

British weather normally requires us to be prepared for every eventuality! There are many different types of exercise sheet on the market for different temperatures and weather conditions. 

Waterproof exercise sheets are designed to keep your horse’s hindquarters dry in wet weather. Thinner waterproof sheets are good for warmer weather or for horses that haven’t been clipped; waterproof sheets that are lined or padded are better for winter use, offering warmth as well as protection. For spooky horses it’s a good idea to use a slightly heavier sheet on windier days to prevent it from blowing around. 

Fleece exercise sheets offer warmth to fully clipped horses in cold winter weather and are useful to put on the horse while warming up for an exercise session or while cooling down afterwards, preventing the horse from developing a chill. 

Hi-vis exercise sheets are a great choice for hacking, especially if on the roads. By covering such a large area of the horse in high visibility material you are increasing the chance of drivers noticing you quickly. Hi-vis sheets are especially useful during poor weather or on dull days, or if you have a dark horse. Look for sheets with reflective strips on for added visability. 

Do I need to use an exercise sheet? 

There are a few different factors which will help you to determine whether your horse needs an exercise sheet, and the type of sheet required: 

  • Temperature – is the horse cold if not wearing a rug? 

  • Weather – is it very wet, or very wet and very cold? 

  • Horse’s condition – is the horse in slightly poor condition? 

  • How hard the horse is working – if the horse is working harder he will get warmer; if just hacking around the lanes the horse may get cold 

  • Whether the horse is clipped and type of clip – if full/hunter clipped the horse will need more protection from the elements 

  • If the horse is cold-backed 

  • If the horse has been known to have a history of tying up (azaturia)  

How to measure for an exercise sheet 

Exercise sheets are sold in smaller sizes than rug sizes, so we have put together a size guide to help. As with any horse rug it’s important to choose the right size for the horse, so that your horse in comfortable and the sheet is safe to use. The exercise sheet should give the horse sufficient freedom of movement without there being an excess of fabric hanging down which could get caught on bushes, fences and in gateways. The exercise sheet should be fitted with a fillet string so it can’t blow around on the horse’s back. 

To find out the correct size of exercise sheet for your horse, measure from the highest point of your horse’s withers to the root of the tail with a soft tape measure. Exercise sheets are typically sized in feet and inches as rugs are. 

Exercise Sheet Measuring Chart


Shop our selection of exercise rugs here. Please feel free to contact us for further information.