An exercise sheet is ultimately a type of fly or rain sheet that has an opening in the saddle area. This means that you can put it on your horse and then saddle it without the rug causing the saddle to slip or wrinkle. Exercise sheets are cut to allow your stirrups still fit perfectly and allow you to give aids normally.
There are different exercise sheets and riding rugs to suit various requirements. If you want to explore the countryside in the summer, you should choose a riding fly sheet. This will protect your horse from unpleasant fly bites that can otherwise interfere with your ride.
There are also exercise sheets that protect your horse's back and kidney area from rain or snow. Some horses are a bit sensitive in this area and these waterproof riding rugs make your rides in autumn and winter more comfortable. There is also the option of reflective stripes or completely reflective materials - the so-called hi viz riding rugs. These help both you and your horse remain visible during dark rides.
A horse exercise sheet is a light rug designed to be worn while riding. It is intended to protect the horse's sensitive kidney area from draughts and cold temperatures. This is of course especially important for clipped horses. The sheet covers only the back of the animal and has an opening for the saddle. It is placed around the saddle and fastened in front of it. You would usually use an exercise sheet in the warm-up phase of working with the horse, or during dry riding. If you ride outside in bad weather, you can also leave it on the horse the whole time. Therefore, the exercise sheet should not only be light, but also breathable and at least water-repellent.
Western saddles are larger than jumping and general purpose saddles. You should therefore make sure that the opening for the saddle is large enough when buying an exercise sheet for use with a western saddle. In addition to the saddle opening, the size of the sheet is also important. Exercise sheet sizing is measured and specified in the same way as other horse rugs. For example, exercise sheet size 135 for a pony or a very small horse or exercise sheet size 165 for a full-sized thoroughbred.
Since exercise sheets are often used for riding, they are often offered in bright colours or with a reflective trim. This ensures better visibility at dusk and in bad weather.
The exercise sheet for driving horses looks a little different. It does not have an opening for a saddle, but it does have openings for the harness. Apart from that, the same requirements that apply to a riding rug apply to a driving rug: it must fit properly without hindering movement and it should be waterproof and breathable. For this reason, a riding rug usually has an inner lining made of fleece, with a blended fabric outer layer.
If you see an offer for a wool driving rug, it will most likely be made of a blend of fabrics and not pure wool. A chest strap and a crupper are usually sufficient for fastening, as the animal will not be left unattended with this rug for a long time.