Dressing for Winter Horseback Riding

by Staff Writer

Winter is the season for cozying up under a warm blanket with a steaming cup of cocoa. But for equestrians, it also means braving the elements to keep both rider and horse in good shape. Equipping yourself with the right attire to stay warm and dry is essential to make those chilly days bearable while staying focused on your ride.

Insulated Riding Breeches

There’s nothing worse than venturing outside, expecting your pants to keep you warm, only to feel the cold air seeping through. The key to maintaining focus on your ride is selecting the right legwear. Opt for riding pants designed for warmth, typically known as breeches. While tights are great for warmer months, breeches are made from thicker materials with tighter stitching, ideal for the winter. Look for breeches specifically designed for the colder months, which may include fleece-lined or thermal options, and avoid breeches intended to keep you cool (the weather will handle that for you!).

Stretchy Baselayers for Added Warmth and Comfort

Layering up is a well-known winter strategy, but dressing for a ride requires a different approach than a day in the snow. When it comes to baselayers for equestrians, the focus is on warmth rather than bulk. The baselayer is the first garment you put on and should effectively wick away sweat and moisture while regulating your body temperature for warmth. Look for baselayers that fit snugly against your skin, allowing you to add more layers without excessive bulk. It’s worth noting that baselayers and thermals are distinct pieces of clothing, with thermals meant to be worn over a baselayer, not as a substitute.

Waterproof Outerwear Designed for Equestrians

Winter isn’t just cold; it’s often wet as well. Rain, snow, or sleet can quickly leave you soaked and shivering, potentially leading to health issues and skin problems. Moreover, riding or working in the wet can pose safety risks. Your outerwear, from boots to jackets, should offer both protection from the elements and warmth. The final layer you don should be waterproof or water-repellent to provide comprehensive winter protection.

Waterproof Riding Boots

In winter, the body works hard to maintain core warmth, which can result in slower blood circulation to the extremities, leaving your toes chilly. Upgrade your footwear by choosing waterproof riding boots or river boots to keep your feet dry and warm. These boots provide added insulation and comfort, making them perfect for riding and barn chores. Ensure the boots fit snugly without being too tight to prevent water from entering at the top.

Warm Knee-Length Socks

To complete your winter riding ensemble, you’ll need warm socks to ensure optimal insulation. Knee-length socks are an excellent choice, keeping your toes, ankles, and calves warm and dry. Consider getting a few pairs in your favorite colors, as these socks are suitable for riding and lounging post-ride.

Winter Riding Gloves

While protecting your toes is essential, your fingers also require safeguarding from the cold. Cold and numb fingers can make handling reins or performing barn chores difficult and potentially dangerous. Winter riding gloves are a must-have to keep your fingers, hands, and wrists warm. Look for gloves with a soft fleece lining for a secure grip while riding, and opt for thicker gloves with fleece interiors and tough exteriors for barn work.

Winter Headgear for Warmth and Protection

While the myth that most body heat is lost through the head has been debunked, it’s essential to keep your head and ears covered. A helmet is the safest headgear for riding, but you can add a snug hat underneath it (ensuring it doesn’t affect the fit) or wear a headband or ear muffs to keep your ears warm. Scarves, however, should be avoided, as they can become tangled or obstruct your vision while riding. Instead, choose a neck gaiter, turtlenecks, or high-necked baselayers and outerwear. Also, don’t forget sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun reflecting off the snowy ground. Sunscreen is equally vital for any exposed skin.

By following these clothing guidelines, you can stay warm, comfortable, and safe while horseback riding during the winter months.