* Prices may differ from that shown
When riding out on a chilly winter morning it's important to wrap up warm - that goes for the horse as well as the rider! We often clip out our horses as they grow a thick winter coat which can cause them to sweat when they are worked. However, when it's very cold, or if we are just going for a slow walk/trot ride, they do need some extra warmth on their backs.
The Mark Todd fleece exercise sheet is just perfect for this. As well as for hacking, I often use mine to start off a schooling session in cold weather. So I'll begin the session with the sheet on the horse and warm up for 10-15 minutes or so. When I feel that their muscles are nicely warmed up I remove it and continue the session without it. Occasionally if it's very cold I keep it on for the entire session.
I think of it as a bit like joggers - you see joggers out in shorts and t-shirts in the summer and full jogging suit in the winter. So why should a (clipped) horse be any different?! Almost all clipped horses are rugged up nice and warm when in the stable or field. If they are fit and working in very cold weather they still need a bit extra to keep them warm.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the product itself (and here's the bit for 'horsy' people):
This is a wrap-around exercise rug. Personally I far prefer these to the kind that sit underneath the saddle. I find that the latter slip back when you do anything other than a walk and generally don't stay in place as well. This Mark Todd one goes on their back, behind (not under) the saddle. There is a fillet string to stop it blowing up over their backs in the wind. It has a cut out for the saddle and then has shaped side pieces which pass under the saddle flaps and do up in front of the pommel, on the horse's withers, with a very large Velcro tab. You can see this quite clearly in the picture.
In addition to this, the wrap-around sheets are easier to fit, don't interfere with any numnah or saddle pad that you might be using and of course are far simpler to take off if you just want it on for your warm up and then will be removing it.
The fleece this is made from is a lovely, soft, medium-weight fleece, ie not too thick and not too thin. It moulds to the horse's body so sort of 'hugs' them, and is not at all heavy for them to wear. I don't find this rug moves in the slightest when the horse is being worked and also does not interfere with their movement in any way.
I have used mine literally hundreds of times and, every so often, I throw it into the washing machine on a 30 or 40 degree wash. It takes very little time to dry and comes out looking like new again.
You can get it for around £20 and I think this is excellent value for a very good quality item.
The only negative thing I can think of to say about it is that the fillet string attaches a bit too high up so its necessary to lift their tail quite high up to get it over the fillet string. I would rather the nylon loops that it attaches to were a bit lower, but this doesn't stop me from giving it 5 stars.
I would be lost without it!