There’s nothing wrong with buying a cooler to make a fashion statement, but be sure it can still do its job. A cooler prevents a horse from getting a chill while cooling out after exercise in cool weather. It’s also used for keeping the coat tidy and preventing the horse from getting dirty at a show. A cooler needs to be versatile. It’s used while tacking up, warming-up with a rider, cooling down with a rider, cooling down after untacking (often loose in a stall), during trailering, as an extra layer under a blanket, as a stable blanket, and finally as a dress/show sheet.
Materials And Cuts
If you plan to use your cooler daily, but want to keep it looking nice for shows, you need to pay extra attention to the materials and washability. Wool is more difficult to care for than fleece, although we love its warmth and appeal. If the cooler must be frequently cleaned, get fleece.
Many horsemen have enduring allegiances to a specific style/cut of cooler. If you like to keep the horses’ entire body warm during tack-up, warm-up, and cooling down, but only leave coolers on in controlled situations, a traditional square cooler is perfect — and great for wrapping yourself in on a cold day, too.
Square-cooler aficionados also swear by old-school cooling-out techniques like stuffing straw underneath to create a pocket of air, which effectively transfers moisture and keeps the horse warm. Square coolers generally include a tail cord, browband, and under-neck straps, which help maintain position. They’re most secure when used with cooler clamps and/or a surcingle.
However, no matter how many closures are included on a product, square coolers aren’t generally aren’t used when the horse is left to its own devices, such as alone in a stall. They tend to shift easily and can hang precariously low or become tangled up if the horse rolls.
If you prefer your horse wear a cooler for a few hours post-workout while loose in a stall, you want a blanket-style cooler. It’s also your best choice if you want the cooler to double as a dress sheet or blanket liner.
The third style is a high-neck/contour style. It’s sort of a combo square cooler and a blanket cooler. It provides full-body coverage, but the material is tailored and employs a hook-and-loop, buckle, or surcingle-style closure under the neck and chest, as well as a surcingle and a tail cord or leg straps to ensure a snug fit. These coolers eliminate theexcess material that hangs off the neck.
At first we were skeptical about KR’s Custom Equirobe square Cooler with its beefy cotton-looped terrycloth. However, its substantial weight worked in its favor. It shifted less than most other square coolers and wasn’t cumbersome to handle or wash.
KR’s Customs’ Sweatless Sheet is an ideal light, breathable choice on chilly mornings or in conjunction with another layer for cooling out. This sheet is a thin, slick, almost stretchy material, designed to wick away moisture rapidly.
We loved the beautiful, striking Celtic design of the Rambo Celtic Trinity Fleece. It has Rambo’s generous fit and a deep cut on the sides for extra warmth and stays in place due to a hidden surcingle, one front closure, and a tail cord. This cooler is tidy enough for a dress sheet, but safe enough as a trailering or stable sheet.
Hug Coverings’ Yukon Fleece cooler was the heaviest material of all of the blanket-style coolers tested and superior for extreme cold. There’s a sacrifice, though, as it didn’t wick moisture as quickly as others.
If you’re considering wool, the BMB Square Cooler is worth the price and care. You can’t beat it for warmth, and shavings and hair brush off nicely. If you’re looking for a square fleece, get a BMB Full Body Comfort Cooler, which was luxurious, warm and wicked moisture well.
The square cooler best buy is from Horse Sense. At $59.95, it’s an incredible value — and just as incredibly huge. Those with smaller horses might want to spend a little more for the $80 Glover Polar fleece instead.
In blanket-style coolers, Glover Equine’s Polar Fleece Paddock Cooler satisfied all our versatility criteria and earned No. 1 pick.
For a best buy, get Schneiders’ Polar Fleece Sheet (#10511). It’s $49.95 and performs quite well.
If you need a high-neck, contoured cooler, we like Schneiders’ Tekno Dri-Contour Cooler (#15415). It stayed in place and help up through washings. If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, get the Saratoga Horseworks PolarTec 200 Fleece cooler. Its styling and performance was almost like a tailored version of a square cooler.