You may be one of the lucky riders who happen to winter in Florida or California, but for many of us cold weather brings a new set of challenges to our equestrian sports.
Indoor arenas are a necessity for many of us. Although being indoors protects from some of the elements, both riders and horses may still need to take some extra precautions to keep comfortable during the winter months.
With the help of a few pieces of equipment and riding apparel, you and your horse can still keep active all year long. We all know weather plays a role in your horse’s behavior, and sometimes even your own! The most stoic of trainers shudders at the thought of cold, wet winter days. The Equestrian Journal helps manage behavior and routine changes and how they affect your horse. On colder days, your horse may be more frisky and more reactive. Keeping track of what happens when riding your horse in different conditions will remind you what worked in certain situations and reduce anxiety about those situations.
For the rider: On cold days, you may be chilled tacking up and then sweaty while riding. So layers are key. I love my fleece lined riding tights. The Kerritts brand makes both full seat and knee patch versions, and they are my go to when it drops below 40. Depending on your comfort level, a long underwear top and warm riding coat with a tapered waistline like this one might work well. Other riders may prefer more room to move in and a fleece turtleneck and vest are great options.
I keep a box of HotHands hand warmers in my tack trunk for the before and after riding "cold finger syndrome." You can throw them in your pockets and when those gloves come off, you can warm your hands up quickly. Tack cleaning can be difficult if you do not have readily accessible warm water. Belvoir and Lexol make quick clean wipes for those chilly days when you just need to make a wipe down.
Although many companies make insulated riding boots, I find they interfere with contact so I wear the usual thin, tall boots. I splurged this year and purchased a pair of Dubarry boots to change into for cool down and barn chores. They really help warm those frozen toes back up after dismounting.
For the horse: Depending on whether your horse is clipped, there are many options for keeping your horse comfortable as well. A cooler is essential, however, it can be too bulky while tacked up. Several years ago, my barn gave all of the boarders these wonderful fleece quarter sheets. This simple, lightweight blanket has become an integral part of my winter routine. It has a velcro attachment above the pommel so it can stay on for all our flat work and I do not have to worry about anything flapping around. Other items that are helpful are baby wipes for “baths” and teet cleaning, leave-in body spray for dry coats, and of course a lunge line for those frisky mornings.
You can keep track of what winter riding equipment and routines work best for you and your horse in The Equestrian Journal. Use the code WINTER10 for 10% off your journal purchase until January 31, 2021. The wet, cold weather can mean less turnout time, so it is even more important to spend time with your horse. Just make sure you are both prepared and you may even gain more from the less busy winter months and be ready for show season and trail riding in the spring!