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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Neck Gators are Great! Don’t wear a scarf while riding, that could be dangerous.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ride Bareback - Your will benefit from your horse’s body heat.
- 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.