Horse Blanket and Sheet Quick Comparison Guide

What is the difference between a turnout sheet and a turnout blanket?

As an equestrian, I know the importance of blanketing horses when necessary, but what is the difference between a horse blanket vs horse sheet?

Horses, especially senior horses, should be blanketed in cold weather to help them conserve heat.

This article will be a horse blanket vs sheet comparison and will help you figure out which one to choose for your horse.

Don’t forget to check our best horse blankets reviews!

What is the Difference Between Horse Blankets and Sheets?

Let’s start by taking a look at each option in detail. Then, later on, I’ll help you decide which one to choose when.

Horse Blankets 

When to Use It

According to the Weethabeeta website (one of the leading blanket manufacturers), horse blankets are used to shield and protect horses from weather conditions and climates that could potentially affect their health, as well as to help them regulate their body temperature.

Horse With Turnout Blanket- horse blanket vs horse sheet guide

There are blanket types for every need.

  • Turnout blanket– used when horses are out in the pasture (turnout time is essential for horse well-being!). They protect from wind, rain, snow and cold, and keep your horse warm and dry. Turnout blankets come in multiple amounts of warmth and weather protection. 
  • Stable blanket-  meant to keep horses warm who are clipped and spend most of their time indoors, when they cannot move around (similar to a blanket you snuggle up with at home!). Lighter sheet blankets can be worn all year round and keep their coat clean
  • Coolers– used after a workout to help a horse regulate their body temperature during its cool-down routine. Horses need time to rest and recuperate after a workout just like we do!

Horse blankets have filled to them, also known as an insulating layer or layer of warmth. They have different weights depending on how much fill is used inside them.

  • Lightweight blanket– 0-100 grams of fill (think about wrapping a paper towel around yourself). Check our list of lightweight turnout blankets for horses!
  • Medium blanket- 150-250 grams of fill (think about putting a jacket on or snuggling under a light blanket)
  • Heavyweight blanket– 300+ grams of fill (think about putting lots of fleece layers on before going out in the snow!)

Check this helpful video:

Horse Sheet

When to Use It

Horse sheets are usually not waterproof and have no fill or insulation (just like your sheets at home!).

So, they should be used any time your horse does not need extra warmth, and you are just trying to keep them clean.

a horse wearing a sheet is eating outdoors

These come in handy on show days, I know how difficult it can be to keep your horse clean, especially if they have a grey coat!

There are many types of sheets available:

  • Stable sheets– made of cotton or nylon fabric, used to keep your horse cozy while inside 
  • Show scrims– used to keep show horses clean near the competition ring
  • Anti-sweat sheets- open design to increase airflow and prevent sweat from building up on a horse’s coat
  • Fly sheets– protects the horse from bugs and is durable enough to withstand play behaviors at turnout, usually made of mesh material (it’s like they have a personal mosquito netting on!)
  • Rain sheet– protects horses from the rain because they are waterproof and give complete coverage  from poll to tail (head to toe!)
  • Quarter sheets– made of fleece, go under the tack to keep the horse’s muscles warm when riding in cold weather for long periods of time

Turnout sheets are the only sheet that is waterproof because they are meant to be worn while the horse is outside. Think of them as a super light version of your favorite raincoat!

Horse Blanket Vs Horse Sheet: What Should I Choose?

A horse sheet is lightweight and has no fill or insulation, whereas blankets are heavier and have insulation to them.

Blankets are meant for horses that are hard keepers (they have difficulty regulating their own body temperature).

On the other hand,  use horse sheets for horses who are easy keepers (can regulate their body without help), or when you are just trying to keep your horse clean.

horses in the field wearing blankets

Use blankets when your horse needs extra warmth and sheets when they don’t.

Turnout sheets and blankets are waterproof and meant to be used outdoors, while stable sheets and blankets are not waterproof and are meant for when a horse is stabled or in a trailer.

Check our list of the best winter horse blankets!

Does My Horse Need a Blanket or Sheet?

Because horses spend most of their time outside, they have their own body systems to keep themselves warm in cool weather (it’s so cool!).

Depending on the sunlight outside, horses will start to produce their coarser winter coat, which provides more insulation than their summer one. 

A Horse With Blanket On it, horse blanket temperature guide

Horses also ferment the grasses they eat in their hindgut, which helps generate heat and helps them stay at their regular core body temperature.

You might think that since horses are able to regulate their own body temperature, that they don’t need a blanket. However, this is not always the case.

Horses have a lower critical temperature, which is the minimum temperature they can be in, and still, keep themselves warm without consuming additional energy.

When the outside temperature is lower than the outside temperature, their heat maintaining mechanisms are not enough to keep them warm, which is why horses still need blankets.

Furthermore, key factors that determine if a horse needs a blanket include age, body types, coat thickness, living conditions, and lower critical temperature.


Do horses really need blankets?

Horse With Stable Blanket- Horse Blanketing Guide

Not always, horses have their winter coat and internal mechanisms to keep themselves warm. Whether or not a horse needs a blanket depends on its age, living conditions, hair coat, body condition, and lower critical temperature.

When should you use a rain sheet on a horse?

A rain sheet should be used when a horse is going out in the rain and they do not need warmth, because they are waterproof and do not have insulation.


The difference between a horse blanket vs sheet is that a blanket is insulated while a sheet is not. Sheets are lightweight while blankets vary in heaviness. Not all horses need a sheet or blanket, it depends on their age, body condition, living conditions, hair coat, and lower critical temperature.


  • 2013. “Learn How to Choose the Right Blanket for Your Horse.” The Spruce Pets. 2013.
  • The Ultimate Horse Blanketing Guide – SmartPak Equine. 2020. “The Ultimate Horse Blanketing Guide – SmartPak Equine.” SmartPak Equine. 2020.
  • “Why Blanket Your Horse.” 2020. 2020.
chestnut horse wearing a green horse sheet

What do you use, horse blanket or horse sheet? Let us know in the comments below!

Andreea J.
Andreea J.

Andreea is a very passionate content creator and her purpose is to provide you with the most interesting articles, while constantly discovering new facts. She’s been freelance writing for the past five years and has created numerous articles and educational materials while managing her own mom blog.
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