What is a Horse Show Sheet? Why Do You Need One? 

As an equestrian, I look forward to horse showing every year because I get to show my relationship with my horse to others. 

Show sheets are an essential part of any equestrian’s showing kit.

This article will explain what a show sheet is, what it is used for, why horses need them, and if they are handy.

What is a Horse Show Sheet for a Horse?

Show sheets, known as dress sheets, are lightweight coverings used to keep your horse clean and dry between show classes. [1]

Show sheets or horse dress sheets are breathable and lightweight horse coverings that keep your horse clean and dry between classes at horse shows.

They are typically cotton, polyester, wool, or nylon and feature an embroidered design. They come in various colors and are decorated with embroidery and other design work.

Show sheets are like the horse version of a dress or tuxedo! It is an excellent addition to your horse clothing wardrobe.

My horse’s show sheet is royal blue with my initials and the initials of her show name, NS; it shines in the sun, looks great against her grey coat, and keeps her looking fresh and clean!

People always point out how nice she looks when we go from class to class. It is a beautiful horse dress sheet.

Like other sheets, show sheets have no fill or insulation and are not waterproof but have some water-resistant features to keep your horse dry in all circumstances. It is an absorbent horse clothing item.

Show horses are usually clipped before arrival at the showground, so the show sheet provides a light layer of warmth to make up for the loss of coat without putting them at risk of overheating.

Here’s a great blanketing video guide:

What is a Horse Show Sheet Used For?

Horse show sheets are used to keep a well-groomed and show-ready horse clean and dust-free in-between show classes and while navigating the show grounds.

They are incredibly lightweight and breathable to allow airflow and freely move the horse’s shoulders and legs.

Show sheets are not durable enough to protect a horse from lousy weather, nor are they insulated or waterproof. I sometimes use it as a blanket liner during colder weather.

However, they are helpful. Horse owners often spend hours preparing their horse for the ring before arriving at the show venue, and a show sheet keeps their work intact by keeping the horse comfortable and dry.

It takes me at least two hours to get my horse clean enough for the show ring, not including the time it takes to braid her mane.

Grey horses are notorious for getting dirty, and it takes a lot of time to get their coat back to a brilliant white.

The show sheet makes sure that the work I did during the grooming session is preserved and prevents me from having to do an emergency groom minutes before our ride time!

Check more horse prep tips in this video:

Why Do Horses Need Horse Show Sheets?

They provide your horse a light layer of warmth on cold show mornings (if they have fleece), keep your horse’s coat clean and dust-free.

It prevents them from getting stained if they decide to roll in their stall before going out to the arena for your class.

Wool show sheets can also be used to wick away moisture on the horse’s coat if they are sweaty after competing. [2] You can consider a horse anti sweat sheet.

Another lesser-known use for show sheets is using them underneath turnout blankets and other blankets for extra layering during winter.

I love putting my horse’s show sheet under their turnout blankets while she is out in the pasture during the winter for additional warmth.

Senior horses are more likely to need blanketing in cold weather because they have a more challenging time regulating their body heat.

Here’s a video review of the SmartPak wool dress sheet.

Is a Show Sheet Useful for a Horse?

As stated above, show sheets are not a necessity for horses, but they are helpful and ensure that your horse stays clean and dry during your show weekend.

Without a show sheet, your horse has more significant potential to get their coat dirty, and you will have to take time out of their busy show day schedule to groom them again. 

Although they are not insulated, show sheets can be layered underneath blankets that are already protected to give your horse extra warmth in cold weather because they are thin, lightweight, and breathable.

Show sheets are a multi-functional piece of equipment that keep your horse looking their best.

I would recommend purchasing one for your horse if you have not already, just for these benefits alone.

READ MORE: Why Does My Horse Sweat So Much?


Does a sheet keep a horse warm?

horse sheets

Sheets do not keep horses warm because they are lightweight, breathable, and have no fill or insulation inside them.  However, they can provide a small amount of warmth in moderate weather conditions.

What is a horse dress sheet? 

A dress sheet is a lightweight and breathable covering that keeps your horse clean and dry while you are taking them to classes at horse shows. [3]

When should a horse wear a sheet?

a horse wearing a sheet is eating outdoors

Horses should wear sheets when traveling, staying indoors, or outside in moderate weather and do not need extra insulation. Sheets are great for keeping your horse’s coat clean after grooming.

In Conclusion,

Show sheets are not insulating or waterproof but provide a light layer of warmth and have water-resistant features that prevent staining and repel moisture. While they are not a necessity, show sheets are helpful.

I trust that this guide provided you with all the information you need.


  • 1. HORSE BLANKETS EXPLAINED A brief explanation and description of blankets and blanketing your horse or pony [Internet]. Available from: https://www.hcbc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/2010BlanketsExplainedcomplete.pdf
  • 2. Silverman S. Blanketing the Dressage Horse [Internet]. Dressage Today. [cited 2022 Jan 20]. Available from: https://dressagetoday.com/lifestyle/blanketing-dressage-horse
  • 3. Blanketing Glossary [Internet]. SmartPak Blog. [cited 2022 Jan 20]. Available from: https://blog.smartpakequine.com/2010/10/blanketing-glossary/
horse wearing a horse show sheet

Do you use a show sheet for your horse? Let us know below!

Bryanna Tanase
Bryanna Tanase

Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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