Monday, October 28, 2013

Winter Gear: Riding

There are some great guides out there to winter riding and winter barn chores - see also Cob Jockey's excellent product reviews - but I thought I'd go over what works for me. All of my horse-owning years have been in New England, and half of them in Vermont, so I know from cold weather horsekeeping.

For reference: my rule of thumb is that I will school down to 15 degrees, and will sometimes go out and just walk around bareback from 10-15 degrees. Colder than that (and we had three straight days last year of below 0 temperatures) and I will go out to check on him if I'm feeling very motivated but mostly I am holed up at home under blankets.

Part 1: Riding

Devon-Aire Power Stretch Full Seat Breeches - Love, love, love. I've had other winter breeches, but too often they feel more like wearing diapers than wearing insulated breeches. (These Tuff Riders are a particularly bad offender.) These are warm, flexible, and relatively sturdy: they've held up pretty darn well for several years now. They are also the only full seat breeches I wear on a regular basis, for whatever reason.

Not my boots, but very similar to them - Ariat Brossards
Ariat Winter Tall Boots - My much-beloved winter tall boots are no longer made by Ariat; the year after I bought them, they updated the line. They are closest to the Ariat Brossards: somewhere between a "true" tall boot and an insulated barn boot. They are warm and comfy and not too thick and my only, only complaint is that they are pull-ons and the only way to pull them up is by the velcro tabs at the top and I am perpetually terrified that I will break the tab.

Smartwool - I don't leave the house in the winter without something from Smartwool. Most often it's socks - over the years I've invested a small fortune in work and casual and ski socks and I am fanatical about taking care of them. I have a few other things and this year I'm planning on some underlayer investment as well.

Turtle Fur Neck Warmer - Actually, I lost this a year ago but until then it was an absolutely required part of my winter gear. Makes a huge difference, especially when moving at speed while riding. This is on the top of my list of things to replace this year before it starts to get really cold.

Down Ski Jacket - Haven't the foggiest what brand it is, but I retired my ski jacket to be my barn/riding jacket when I retired from skiing. (I am really, really bad at skiing and after messing my my right knee in a fall a few years ago, I decided that if I was going to wreck my body I'd rather do it riding than skiing.) The key here is the down: it keeps the jacket light and comfortable and warm.

Here's where I admit the major hole in my winter riding gear: gloves. I have these SSG Winter Training Gloves but I'm just not wild about them. I need to re-examine and update this soon. For now, I'm getting by with those and some other fleece ones, but pretty soon they won't cut it anymore.

Part 2: Barn Chores coming tomorrow.


  1. I've used the SSGs for a good while but after a lesson last week in which I could not feel let alone keep track of my outside rein while wearing them (EEEP!!), I sucked it up and bought the Roekels polar fleece. Which WHOA STICKER SHOCK. But they seem warm, and the rein feel was pretty amazing. Though I have only used them on 1 ride, so final judgement to follow.

    1. Yeah - they are just Note Quite There. They're the best of the options I've tried so far but not ideal yet. I'll take a look at the Roeckls, thanks for the rec!

  2. SO GLAD you posted this, as my winter horse time will exponentially increase this year with the new pony needing work. In the past, I've made do with whatever I could and consoled myself with the fact that my house (and warm tea!) is only a quick walk away from the pastures. But this year... I have a feeling I'll be wanting some better winter gear. I am a huge wimp about cold. :P

    1. Glad I could help! It's not fun or easy, working horses when it's so freaking cold, but it is worth it. And yes, there are times I've cheated and turned on the car a few minutes before I leave, and hold my hands in front of the heater for several minutes before leaving.


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