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Summer sheets are lightweight rugs for horses and ponies, and tend to be used for cleanliness purposes. They protect the skin and hair against dust and dirt, which is useful if you are competing at events or tackling showing classes, and need a clean horse! They are also sometimes referred to as ‘stable sheets’.
Summer sheets can also help protect the horse or pony from the bleaching effect of sun light, which can be very detrimental to the coat - again undesirable, if you are showing the horse. Some of these rugs also reflect the sun’s rays, helping keep the horse cooler. This is especially useful for a darker coloured horse, whose coat absorbs the heat more readily.
As a lightweight layer, a summer sheet is also ideal as a spring or summer stable or turnout rug, providing extra warmth on a chillier day, or keeping the horse comfortable and the muscles warm between classes at an event.
They are also useful to use after bathing the horse to prevent chills, and because summer sheets tend to be very lightweight and made from smooth, Polyester-blend materials (see below), they usually don’t attract hay, straw and horse hair.
Summer sheets are not usually waterproof, but they generally can be worn outside as a turnout rug in dry weather, and some are made from quite robust materials. Summer sheets tend to be made from lightweight blends, such as polyester or poly-cotton - some will also have a lining of something like microfibre, for durability.
Some summer sheet rugs may also have wicking technology, meaning they act similarly to a cooler rug, making them even more versatile. Cooler rugs are predominantly used after exercise, when the horse’s body temperature has increased; the purpose is to prevent the animal’s body temperature from dropping too rapidly whilst he is cooling down, to help regulate the horse or pony’s temperature and prevent the onset of chills in colder weather. Wicking rugs also maintain muscle temperature through the horse or pony’s shoulder, back and hindquarters, e.g. the areas where the rug is positioned closest to the body, aiding recovery while the horse cools down.
Summer sheets and stable sheets tend to come in the standard three-inch-increment sizes, in feet and inches. They do tend to come in all manner of cheerful colours with binding and contrasting areas, so you can match them to your horse or pony’s colour scheme.