My Top Ten Tips For Staying Warm While Riding

A snowy day at the Castro Riding Academy.

A snowy day at the Castro Riding Academy.


Depending on where you live, the weather is probably in the teens right now.  If you don’t give your horse time off during the winter and you still want to ride you have to stay warm or it won’t be enjoyable.

Here are My Top Ten Tips For Staying Warm While Riding:


  1. Dress in layers – Typically, I wear biking or yoga pants under my jeans.  I don’t really bother with long underwear, not because they don’t keep me warm, I just already have the other pants and they work for me.  If it’s really cold, I will wear some tights under all of my pants.   
  2. Keep your neck and core covered – I like to wear a turtleneck then a long sleeve shirt, a wool sweater, and then a jacket.  I can peel off layers as needed.  Vests are great for riding!  I hardly ever wear my jacket, and when I do I usually wear just the shell and not the liner.  
  3. Invest in some good gloves and a pair of glove liners – Glove liners are really helpful if your hands sweat.  The outer glove doesn’t get wet, and your hands stay warm.  I can’t stand to ride in gloves, but I wear them until I get on the horse then I peel them off and put them in my pocket.  If I ride outside, then yes, I do wear them.
  4. Keep your head covered –  If you wear a helmet, then be sure to wear a head band to cover your ears.  If you don’t wear a helmet, wear a warm hat!
  5. Keep your feet warm - I used to buy special boots for the winter that were thinsulated, but what I’ve found is as long as I have a boot with a crepe sole and wear some good wool socks I’m fine. I don’t double my socks, one pair works best for me.  I spend most of my time on the ground teaching and my feet are never cold.  There are some high quality boot socks out there made with the latest technology, but I have yet to try them.
  6. Neck Gators are Great!  Don’t wear a scarf while riding, that could be dangerous.
  7. Stay off of the concrete –  Concrete gets so cold and goes right through your feet chilling your body.  Put a rubber mat down, a piece of carpet, or groom your horse somewhere else where there is no concrete.
  8. Groom your horse vigorously – Use your rubber curry to really scrub your horse’s body.  Switch from right hand to left hand and really move while grooming.
  9. Ride Bareback - Your will benefit from your horse’s body heat.
  10. Do lots of Trotting – If you work at really driving your horse forward with your legs you will definitely get warm quickly and your horse will stay in frame.


An extra tip – Our show team practices are in the evening and the girls are at the barn for at least two hours at a time.  I call the girls my “little army” because they always ask me if they can dig up the footing in the arena to move it away from the walls, filling in the thin spots.  We all rake and shovel the footing together when we get cold.  The arena is now even and we all get so warm that I actually start to sweat!  If you don’t have arena footing to dig, clean your horse’s stall, that will make you warm. 

Stay warm and don’t forget to keep drinking water.  Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t dehydrate.

What are some of your “stay warm” tips for winter?



About Deanna Castro

Deanna Castro has been training horses and riders professionally for over 18 years. She trains riders in Horsemanship, Western Pleasure, Showmanship and Trail Riding. Deanna is married to Native American Horse Trainer Fredi Castro and she is the author of "Six Weeks to a Better Horse".
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7 Responses to My Top Ten Tips For Staying Warm While Riding

  1. Ann says:

    It’s more the grooming that makes things bone chilling, more so than the riding. How about a cup of hot apple cider or green tea to start your pre-riding and complete your post riding grooming routine?
    UnderArmour and other companies make great “liner” gloves that fit easily under most leather riding gloves for bone chilling weather. I find in temps above 30 degrees, these liners suffice in themselves to keep your hands warm and you still maintain a great amount of feel for the reins.
    And don’t forget that bran-mash treat for the horses once in a while!

  2. Short sessions with my horse powered by plenty of hot cocoa in between is what’s been getting me through :) I do need some decent riding boots, though.

  3. Sabrina says:

    Our temps are well below zero right now (feels like temps in the -20s) and have been for several days now so work (other than everyday necessities…feeding, barn cleaning, watering, etc) has practically stopped here…takes nearly no time at all to freeze even when grooming, riding, training, etc!! Anyway…so long as the temps are above zero Diago, Flash, and I have been working on showmanship…trotting in hand is REALLY good at creating energy and more importantly…warmth! :)

  4. dcastro says:

    Those are all good tips! I was reading yesterday about a town in Sibera that has temps of -81 right now. I saw a video of a horse outside eating hay in -61 degrees. I can’t even imagine that. Remind me never to go to Siberia.

  5. Sabrina says:

    Yikes!! Now THAT is cold!! I’ll take my below zero temps a tad closer to the zero mark…thank you very much…LOL!

  6. Pingback: Big Oak News » Blog Archive » Weather Puts A Damper on Riding

  7. unaplicable says:

    Where I live it can get below zero at times so I bought EMU inserts for a very low price, and stuck them in my boots and I have to say one of my best ideas! The heat bounces back into your foot, and wicks away all sweat! Its like an incelator. I also wear a columbia fleece with a soft shell when its really cold, usually just the fleece though wih some under armor shirt that is fleece inside. I also wear heavy or light weight under armor (hiking gear). And i do also use shake em’ warmers stick them in my pockets and it warms my belly! If you want to find fair priced things to keep you warm go to a hiking store and they will have under armor, hand warmers, ear warmers (no band they snap on so not to get in the way), good wool socks, and nice neck warmers. DONT LET THE COLD KEEP YOU FROM RIDING!

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