If you don’t ride horses in cold weather it can be difficult to get enough layers on and still be reasonably warm and flexible while riding. Without purchasing hundred’s of dollars of winter riding gear, here are a few pointers.
Leg Gear for Winter Riding
Ski pants are ok for winter riding, with layers underneath but they can be slippery in the saddle and bunch up if you are riding at more than a walk. Consider wearing some large warm socks to stuff the bottom of the ski pants into or even leg warmers if you still have some from the eighties. Velcro strips wrapped around the bottoms can help hold them in place as well. The wide leg on ski pants intended to go over the ski boot can really get in the way while riding. Otherwise just wear layers under some loose fitting jeans and even sweatpants over the jeans can give added warmth if its not too windy out. The key is to reduce the bulk as much as possible.
Hats for Winter Riding
Knit caps that don’t fold up are best for winter riding when wearing a helmet. No pompoms. Hats that can be worn under the helmet are definitely a bonus since our helmets are lightweight and have air vents through the top. But hats that roll up around the hem, with pom poms or other attachments won’t stay under the helmet securely and will have to be removed. Thin head bands to cover the ears can work but again bulkiness will work against you. The best hats are the ones that simply go over your head and have no fold or decorations, the ones with ear flaps are great because you can tie the hat down into place so it won’t slip around under the helmet.
Gloves for Winter Riding
Gloves are another area where bulk can be a big problem during winter riding. Gloves must be thin, leather with a flannel lining or a thinsulate lining are best. One size fits all stretch gloves can work but aren’t as warm. Leather will give you better hold on the reins which is a necessity when riding. You can lose the contact with the reins when wearing gloves and will often let them run too long through your fingers.
Footwear for Winter Riding
Boots are a necessity in the winter. But too much heel can be a problem if you plan to trot or canter. Also, men’s work boots, snowmobile boots and Uggs are often too wide through the ball of the feet to fit comfortably in the stirrups. Even children’s sized snowmobile boots are often too wide for our child size stirrups on our child sized saddles. So a slimmer winter boot with a small heel are best. Also more tread is not a great thing in stirrups, less tread is always better.
All of these winter wear ideas are for safety and comfort reasons. There are instances when we will allow ill fitting and inappropriate winter clothing on our beginner rides as long as they do not impede any safety guidelines. On faster rides for the intermediate rider, proper clothing is essential. The wrong clothing may result in moving your reservation to a beginner ride, or changing your current reservation.