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Dress Sheet Material

I’m looking to buy a dress sheet for shows and I am a bit confused. Is there a difference between wool and fleece dress sheets? I know that wool is a bit fancier with leather closures but is wool warmer than fleece? Does it wick moisture better? Thanks!

If you can, get wool - fleece tends to get everything stuck to it, and does not hang as nicely. I would definitely say wool is warmer, as well, though our wool sheets are quite lightweight.

Fleece is also prone to static. That can make for some very unhappy horses when you go to pull it off of them. It also is impossible to keep clean since everything sticks to it. Spend the extra money and get wool.

Wool stays warm when wet and might require more careful laundering. It has an even drape to it and will look amazing when clean.

Fleece is usually polyester fleece and is cheaper, can be laundered at home at whatever settings you like, but definitely never looks as nice as wool. Fleece might also get some of the fibers stuck together making it look matted. Washing usually does not help.

Awesome will do! Are wool dress sheets delicate though? I have no experience with wool, are they usually sturdy enough to trailer in and have your horse wear them overnight in a stall at a show?

Wool is not delicate as a fabric but it should be laundered according to instructions. Heat and agitation (harsh wash cycles) can cause the wool to full (get denser and shrink) which you can’t undo. I usually wash wool on a delicate cycle and let it line or flat dry. The manufacturer will probably have wash instructions on the package. Just follow those.

opened this to give props to wool, but just read that you want to leave the sheet on overnight in the stall, so we may mean different things by “dress sheet.” For me, a dress sheet is for out of the stall, sort of to see and be seen, rather than something more practical like, say, a baker. Cocktail dress v pjs. I love wool - you can get it in a wide variety of weights (and patterns!), it breathes beautifully and drapes gorgeously. I wouldn’t leave a horse in a stall with it, though (ok, ok, an old motheaten cooler with a polo surcingle is different - but not for shows). Shipping should be ok though.

That makes sense! Will do!

There are different weights and qualities of wool.

In general, you get what you pay for. Those Centaur wool sheets are melton-- shorter fibers, woven tighter and thinner than the kind of thick, Old School wool you’d find in something like a Triple Crown dress sheet. What makes wool work, like fur, as something that straps air and also wicks moisture to the surface, is its loft.

And, of course, the Old School kind of wool dress sheets costs 3x-4x what a newer, thinner one will.

Things like Smartpak’s plaid dress sheets are somewhere in between. Those are probably the best bang for the buck, other than buying a used dress sheet of the Old School stuff. That would be my first choice.

Custom horse companies will make dress sheets with lighter wool-- using a weight that’s at the high end of what you’d use for human clothing.

But! Wool can be a bit fragile around the 1,000#-er who thinks nothing of rubbing his half-dry ass on a splintery wall in his nice sheet because, yanno, it itched.

The old solution to this was to weave in about 15% nylon with the virgin wool. Now that’s a well-designed fabric for the intended function of a dress sheet. And to be clear: These did/do have a function: They are intended to keep warm the fine-coated show horse whose fur isn’t doing the job or which has been clipped off. It’s not all vanity.

ETA: To speak to the synthetic fleece option: It doesn’t do the “work as fur with loft” job as well as wool. And polar fleece, too, is getting thinner. Perhaps the only stuff up to the job is the very thick, expensive stuff Rambo uses in it’s Whitney (and otherwise) fat-striped fleece dress sheets.

The only thing fleece has going for it, IMO, is washability. Between the static and everything sticking to it, and the thinness, I think it’s not functional enough to be worth the price.

I’m also a huge wool fan, but I probably wouldn’t leave it on a horse in a stall overnight. Since it’s not the easiest to clean, I don’t want to risk it getting covered in poo and pee.

I would either do a Baker/Rambo acrylic or one of the thin cotton sheets that are easily laundered for overnight.

The other thing to keep in mind if you are using wool is . . . clothes moths (or rather their larvae). Every few years these turn up in my house, and nibble holes in my best wool sweaters before I catch on and do a big clean-up. By the time you see them flying around, they have already gone through a life cycle in your clothes and done the damage, and are now laying eggs for the next round …

Moths love dirty wool. I can just see them shredding a wool dress sheet put away in a cupboard between show season. Make sure it’s clean, and get it into a big ziplock bag for off season storage. Moth eggs and larvae won’t stick to things that are in regular use.

IMO: Polarfleece is better for wicking, and dries faster afterwards. Wool is better for everything else. If your main goal is drying a wet horse, I’d go for fleece every time. If you want something beautiful and warm to bring your horse to the ring in, I’d go with wool. I have one of each, and I use them accordingly.

· Wool is the one and only fiber that is equally warm when it is wet as it is when it is dry. So, it is ideal for putting on a wet or sweaty horse who needs to dry when it is chilly out. Polar Fleece does wick, but loses its heat retention when it is wet.
· “Melton” was mentioned above as being lighter weight. This is not correct. Melton is the densely woven, smooth finished wool that is the most sought after for dress sheets. It is a medium to heavy-weight. The lighter weight wools that are available (from many sources and in many qualities) are properly called “flannel” weight wool.
· Rambo does not sell any wool Witneys any longer. All of their Newmarket products, which are lovely, are polyester fleece.
· True Witneys are still available, but only in the gold/red/navy stripe. These are the heavy weight traditional English rugs.
· As many have said, wool dress sheets are meant to keep a horse warm while standing ringside, or while crosstied after a bath. They are not constructed in a way to deal with being left on a horse loose in a stall. If you want to use them for this purpose, they should always be sandwiched between a sheet and a baker or blanket (the same way a Witney would be used). If left on an unsupervised horse, then the “well, because it itched!” scenario above is likely to occur, and as we say here, when it comes down to a 7lb sheet vs a 1000lb horse, the sheet will ALWAYS lose, no matter what fabric it is made from! :slight_smile: