Tips for Winter Weather Riding: Part II
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing.” This old Scandinavian proverb is spot-on for winter riding. Sub-freezing temperatures may make you reluctant to get out and ride, but they shouldn’t keep you inside all winter! The fresh air and extra Vitamin D from the sun will do both you and your horse good as long as you are prepared. The Cheshire Horse has everything you’ll need to ride in comfort throughout these frigid months. See Part I of this series here.
Warm, Moisture-Wicking Socks
Warm, moisture-wicking socks are a winter necessity, whether you’re riding or not! Tech Socks from Dubarry are made from breathable Coolmax® fabric, with extra dense soft cushion underfoot. They come in long and short versions, as do Dri Tech Socks from Mountain Horse which provide a slightly snugger fit under tall or paddock boots. For really frigid temperatures or days you’ll spend many hours in the cold, consider layering light, moisture-wicking socks under a heavy warm pair. You can even slip some Toasty Soles into your boots! These insulating boot soles reflect radiant heat back to your feet so your toes stay toasty warm all winter.
The type of gloves that work best for you will depend on the type of riding you’re doing. If you do a lot of jumping, dressage schooling, or other intensive riding, you might want to wear heavier gloves only for barn chores and tacking up, and then use a lighter pair for riding. If you ride solely for pleasure, you’ll probably want to keep the heavier gloves on! The Performance Waterproof Glove by Mountain Horse fits the bill for a heavy winter riding glove, and it’s waterproof too. You can always wear your heavier gloves and keep a lighter pair in your pockets for once you warm up, or simply layer two pairs of gloves. The Warwick Fleece Glove by Roeckl is perfect for both.
You may think your helmet is all you need for warmth on your head, but layers above the neck can make a big difference! A balaclava head cover will slide on right underneath your helmet in order to trap heat and keep you warm from head to toe. In addition, riding jackets now often feature hoods that fit over your helmet. Another over-the-helmet option is a Helmet Cozy Cover, which insulates your helmet and wraps your ears, neck, and chin in soft warmth. It will keep out cold but still allows for airflow. Cozy Ear Muffs are also easy to put on and take off, and they provide added warmth.
It can also help to remove jewelry before going out for a ride. Metals have high thermal conductivity, which means that they readily move heat or cold to other objects through contact. Have you ever tried stirring a pot of hot soup on the stove after leaving a metal spoon in the pot too long? You would get burned! That’s due to the metal spoon’s thermal conductivity. The same principal applies to your metal jewelry exposed to the cold air and then coming into contact with your skin. Brr!
The best way to keep your body warm is to warm it up in the first place! Warming up before heading out for a ride can also help protect your joints in chilly conditions. If you have a heated tack room available, add in a pre-ride warm-up to release tension, improve circulation, promote flexibility, and get warm. Some basic exercises to have in your repertoire:
• Arm rotations
• Ankle rotations
• Head/neck rotations
• Leg swings
• Jumping jacks
In addition, simply hand walking your horse for 10 minutes before your ride can help both of you warm up.
Another way to warm up is to bring a thermos or YETI filled with your favorite hot beverage to the barn for after your ride. You’ll be amazed at how much more quickly you heat up!