An exercise rug covers your horse’s hindquarters and is designed to keep them warm and dry while you’re hacking or schooling. These rugs are used mainly during the winter months on horses who are clipped to provide warmth across their back and loins. Such a rug can also prove helpful at any time of year during warm ups and cool downs to keep your horse’s muscles warm.

Some exercise rugs have a waterproof outer and are designed to protect your horse from the rain and cold. Many are breathable to keep them at a comfortable temperature while they’re working. There are also a number that contain special materials that claim to boost circulation and aid muscle health.

Our team of testers has put a selection of exercise rugs to the test. Each exercise sheet is marked out of five for fit, effectiveness and value for money. This gives an overall rating out of 15.

1. WeatherBeeta Thermocell Quarter Sheet

RRP £54.99

Colours: Dark grey/ white, navy/ white

Sizes: XS – XL

Fit: This sheet just covers your horse’s quarters. It fits neatly and fastens onto the girth straps on either side. It is a good depth and has a bit of shaping to it and so it follows the contours of your horse. It stayed in place well whether I was hacking or schooling. 4.5 stars

Effectiveness: This quarter sheet does the job well. The material is soft to the touch and lightweight, but it does keep the muscles over the quarters warm. A versatile quarter sheet that looks smart too. 5 stars

Value for money: Excellent value. 5 stars

Total: 14.5

2. DefenceX System Cool Control Exercise Sheet

RRP £59.99

Colours: Navy/ red

Sizes: 4ft 6in, 4ft 9in, 5ft

Fit: A smart rug that fits neatly around your saddle. It is also well shaped and covers your horse’s hindquarters nicely. The depth is good too. The fastening over the withers is easy to do up and it helps to hold the rug in place. 5 stars

Effectiveness: The material is lightweight, but it does keep the horse warm when they’re working, making this a good choice for those chilly morning rides. I have had no problems with the rug slipping even when cantering out on hacks. The cut-away where your legs sit isn’t as generous as some other exercise rugs I’ve used, but this didn’t affect my riding. 4.5 stars

Value for money: Very good value for a warm, smart exercise rug. 4.5 stars

Total: 14

3. Thermatex Quarter Rug

RRP from £90

Colours: 24 colours available

Sizes: 4ft – 5ft

Fit: A simple design that is shaped to fit neatly around the back of your saddle. There is a cut-out for the top of your horse’s tail. The quarter rug fastens securely with a touch-and-close strap that passes around the girth straps. 5 stars

Effectiveness: This is made from a wicking fabric that keeps the horse warm, but not too hot. I found it lightweight, but it kept my horse cosy and was great to use during competition warm ups. It is super quick and easy to remove and it looks smart too. 5 stars

Value for money: Good value for a smart and effective quarter sheet. 4 stars

Total: 14

4. Finer Equine Ride-on Exercise Sheet

RRP £145 for summer weight, £160 for winter weight

Colours: French navy

Sizes: S – L

Summer weight / Winter weight

Fit: This is so much more than an exercise sheet – it incorporates a saddle cover too – and is such a clever design that it fits both your saddle and your horse well. There are a few extra fastenings that hold the saddle cover securely in place. Once you have put it on a few times it becomes quick and easy to do. I did find that I had to get off when I used it at a competition and needed to remove it before going into the ring as it was too fiddly to get off with me on board. 4.5 stars

Effectiveness: This exercise sheet protects your saddle and your horse from the elements. The saddle cover part has grips on it so that you feel secure when you’re riding – the cover doesn’t move at all. Both parts have proved to be waterproof. I have the summer weight version that has a breathable mesh lining, but even on cooler mornings my horse still feels warm enough. 5 stars

Value for money: This is good value, although it isn’t cheap, but a lot of thought has gone into the design of this product. 4 stars

Total: 13.5

5. Bucas Freedom Riding Rug

RRP €75

Colours: Navy

Sizes: S – XL

Fit: A super fit, and although this rug isn’t very deep, it does give good coverage of the quarters, which is what you want. This quarter rug fits neatly around the saddle and secures easily over the withers. 4.5 stars

Effectiveness: It is lightweight and the material moulds well to a horse’s body shape. It has proved to be waterproof and my horse feels comfortably warm underneath the rug. The silk-feel lining keeps their coat looking great too. 4.5 star

Value for money: Good value for a quality exercise rug. 4.5 stars

Total: 13.5

6. Back on Track Supreme Exercise Rug

RRP £147

Colours: Black

Sizes: 125cm, 135cm, 145cm, 155cm, 165cm

Fit: A smart rug that is shaped to follow the contours of your horse’s body so that it fits nicely. The wrap-around style looks neat and is easy to use. It is also cut away where your legs sit so you can give clear aids. 5 stars

Effectiveness: This rug is made from a quality fleece material that does the job of keeping your horse warm. It uses the Welltex ceramic-infused fabric, but I can’t say that I noticed a huge difference in my horse’s way of going or his relaxation levels. Maybe I wasn’t riding for long enough to feel the benefits. 4 stars

Value for money: A good rug, but I can’t vouch for its therapeutic properties. 4 stars

Total: 13

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