All About Horse Coolers, Fleeces, and Sheets 

Updated July 7, 2023
Horse cooler, fleece, and sheet examples on diagram

Look around most indoor rings, and you’ll see riders using a variety of fleeces, scrims, and other garments as coolers. A cooler is a blanket designed to absorb and wick away moisture while keeping your horse warm and comfortable. 

While they may all look fairly similar, different materials and styles can greatly affect your horse’s comfort. Let’s look closer at the different options for coolers and how to select the right one for your horse. 

Think Fleece Coolers First

black fleece cooler on a stocky buckskin horse

Fleece is the perfect material for keeping your horse comfortable, cozy, and dry. Horse coolers come in three common styles, each with a different purpose.

Quarter Sheet

Best for: Riding

While it offers the least coverage, this cut can be used for your entire ride. Though it’s small, it still covers the major muscles in the back and hindquarters, keeping them warm in cold temperatures. A quarter sheet is ideal for fully-body clipped horses during the winter months.

Standard Cooler

Best for: Security

This style usually features a front buckle and surcingle, offering the most security if you want to leave it on your horse after untacking while he’s cooling out and drying during the colder months.

Square Cooler

Best for: Unclipped horses

Offering the most coverage, this cut is ideal for horses with unclipped necks, which get sweaty during rides and need to cool out completely.

Alternative Sheets

baker anti-sweat sheet on a horse

These two types of sheets are often used like coolers but have slightly different purposes.

Dress Sheet

Best for: Show days

Essentially a dressier version of a cooler, dress sheets are usually made from a more luxurious material, like wool. You’ll generally see these at competitions and events, but are rarely used in day-to-day riding.

Anti-Sweat Sheet

Best for:  Warmer weather

Made with an open-weave cotton or polyester blend, the large holes facilitate increased airflow over the skin. Anti-sweat sheets are great after baths or for cooling out during the summer months.

What is the Best Material for Coolers?

Not all materials are created equal. Most climates and changing seasons will require you to use different horse blankets. The materials make a big difference in your horse’s comfort, so make sure to consider the use and climate before making a purchase.


Lightweight and highly breathable, fleece has the unique ability to retain its insulating properties even when wet. It also doesn’t absorb moisture but instead wicks it away. This combination makes it the best horse cooler for winter riding.


Wool is extremely absorbent but not as fast-drying as synthetics, so you don’t want to leave it on a sweaty horse too long in chilly weather. It does lock in body heat, so wool horse coolers are great as dress sheets.


Soft and highly absorbent, cotton is great for facilitating drying in warmer weather. Since it soaks up much of the moisture, cotton coolers are not the best choice for winter rides.

The information provided in the Horsemanship Library is based solely on our SmartPak authors' opinions. SmartPak strongly encourages you to consult your veterinarian or equine professionals regarding specific questions about your horse's health, care, or training. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or behavior and is purely educational.