Types of horse coolers – wool, fleece, and Irish knit.
Horse coolers are the most versatile blanket you can use on your horse, and there are many types of horse coolers. Pick the one that best for your horse and the season.
Uses for horse coolers
- Coolers are great to use as you strip blankets and start grooming/tacking up in the winter. They can keep your horse warm in the crossties so that he doesn’t have to go from snuggly to naked to chilled. Drape a cooler over your horse standing securely in the cross ties, you can fold over sections, groom, and put the cooler over that section again.
- Coolers are great to keep YOU warm as you hang out in the crosstie area. Inevitably, there is a certain amount of “hurry up and wait” in the grooming way of life, and when it’s wicked cold, you can use a cooler during those “wait” sections. They are also good for wrapping around your legs if you are ringside with the video camera.
Coolers come in all shapes and sizes – I love this Wiksmart with the neckpiece and belly cover.
- After a workout, coolers are ideal to toss on your freshly exercised horse. They will start to wick away any moisture immediately, and help your horse return to a normal body temperature slowly and safely as he dries. This way he won’t go from sweaty and warm to wet and cold. He can just go back to his normal temperature.
- Coolers make excellent drying assistants if you use the hot toweling method of grooming in the winter. This grooming technique uses hot and wet towels to clean sections of your horse at a time. After a thorough scrubbing, the hair will still be wet, and a cooler will help dry the area and prevent it from getting cold.
Do you need a cooler?
- Some of you may wonder if a cooler is even necessary, and it may not be in your climate. Think of it this way – would you want to exercise, sweat, and then stop moving to be stuck in the cold while you are damp? Probably not.
This wool cooler likes to steal Miguel’s hair. But wool is the best fabric for wicking away moisture quickly but also loves to hang onto hair.
Types of horse coolers
- Wool coolers are the gold standard in wicking properties. If you have a horse with a thick coat, wool coolers may be best for you. They do tend to collect hair, so make sure your horse is thoroughly groomed and brushed before use.
- It’s somewhat easy to clean a wool cooler and a pain in the butt. They can’t go into a washing machine, so you will be doing it by hand. Learn how to clean your wool coolers here.
- Fleece coolers are versatile and come in a zillion colors and thicknesses. Most are totally fine in the washer and dryer. They also tend to be a bit more affordable than the wool style of cooler.
- Knit coolers, or Irish knits as they are sometimes called, are ideal for warmer temps, their weave is very open, and the cotton doesn’t wick away the moisture as well. They sort of just soak up the moisture.
- Irish knits are best used in warmer weather, or under a wool or fleece cooler. If you are layering them, remove the knit as soon as it gets damp. You could also use an Irish knit over a fleece or wool cooler if those don’t have straps and you need to secure everything.
The airy Irish Knit! I don’t use this style in the winter.
Safety tips for using coolers
- Play it safe when using coolers. It’s all too easy to cut corners and have your horse in a tangled mess of cooler. Please use a cooler with a sensible chest closure and leg/belly straps for safety if you use one when your horse is loose in a stall or paddock.
This wool cooler has a hidden belly strap (sewn to the inside) and a strap under the tail.
- When using a cooler to dry your horse after exercise, you will notice that the moisture may form little beads outside the cooler. Monitor the underside of the cooler to make sure it’s not saturated and in need of changing.
- You may want to use a thinner style, or fold up a cooler to only cover some sweaty parts, depending on the temperature. Quarter sheets over major muscle grooms as you ride, and are helpful for warm-up and cool-down.
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