What are summer sheets for?
When weather conditions turn extreme, horses will naturally seek shelter to protect themselves from the wet, cold, and hot. However, not all domestic horses have access to shelter in their fields so they require other forms of protection from the weather. It is not just about keeping them warm and dry in the winter. Extreme temperatures in the summer and long periods of sun can cause damage to your horse’s health.
Development in fabric technologies have offered new ways to keep horse’s safe when exposed to the sun for a long period of time. There are now a wide range of sheets available on the market designed to be used in the summer months when the weather is warmer. Other than fly rugs, sheets commonly used in the warmer weather include summer sheets, coolers, and stable sheets. These sheets have a range of purposes including protecting from the sun, keeping your horse clean, and helping him to cool down after exercising or bathing.
In this blog, we are discussing three of the most common types of summer sheets, and what they are used for.
A summer sheet is essentially a very lightweight turnout rug. They are designed to be worn out in the field when the weather is warm. The primary purpose of a summer sheet is to protect a horse from the sun. They are specially designed to be lightweight and highly breathable to prevent a horse from overheating when wearing them. While the sun is important for Vitamin D production, just like in humans, it can cause damage if a horse is left exposed to it for long periods of time. Horses are susceptible to coat fading (sometimes referred to as bleaching) when the colour of the horse’s coat fades. Though this is mainly cosmetic, most owners would hope to avoid this. Horses can also suffer from sunburn. It is most common in horses with lighter coats, and those with pink skin. Sunburn can be extremely painful leaving skin red and dry or even blistered in severe cases.
In all cases of sun damage, prevention is better than cure. Using a summer sheet will protect the horse from bleaching, sunburn, and other sun related illnesses. When choosing a summer sheet, look for styles made from a lightweight material such as polycotton. This material is light and highly breathable which will keep the horse cool in the sun. Some styles will feature a mesh lower to maximise airflow for the horse. Summer sheets will also offer protection against flies and biting insects, as they are unable to land on the horse’s back.
A cooler is a type of sheet designed to cool a horse down after exercise, bathing, or when travelling. They are made of an ultra-lightweight, breathable material that wicks away moisture from a horse’s body to keep them cool and comfortable in the summer. This versatile sheet can also be used in colder temperatures as they trap heat against a horse’s body, so prevent them catching a chill when cooling down after exercise. Some styles of coolers feature a mesh panel at the bottom with a fleece upper. The fleece upper runs along the horse’s back to offer additional protection to the major muscle groups when a horse is cooling down. Coolers are a popular choice when travelling in hot temperatures as they will wick away sweat from the horse’s body.
A stable sheet is used to keep a horse clean when in the stable, travelling, or at a show. They are made from a lightweight material, such as cotton, which keeps the horse clean without them overheating. They are a popular choice for overnight stabling before a competition throughout the summer months. They are also very common when travelling to prevent a horse becoming dirty in the trailer or lorry.
Want to learn more about other types of summer sheets? Read our blog all about Fly Rugs and why to use them in the summer months.