Winter can be a beast, especially when it impedes our horseback riding and training. Unless you have access to an indoor arena, it takes the fun out of riding. Because it is no fun freezing to death. But there are ways you can stay comfortable and enjoy riding in the winter. There’s absolutely no reason your horse should have to be pastured until Spring. So, with a few tips and tricks and layers, you’ll be ready for the saddle.
It’s important to check the weather before you plan to ride. That way you are fully aware of what the temperatures are going to be for the day, and also any inclement weather that might move in. That is why I chose to break these tips into categories of coldness. When you know what the forecast is going to be for the day, you then can be prepared and dress appropriately.
Days that Start Cold but Warm Up
Sometimes the day can start out in freezing temperatures, but by the afternoon warms up nicely. For these times, you absolutely have to be prepared for both or you will be miserable. I’ve learned this the hard way. I dressed warm and was comfortable in the cold, but by the afternoon so hot and miserable I could barely stand it. This is where layers come in.
Layers are your friend
For this kind of weather you may want a t-shirt, with a flannel or light sweater, then I like to add a vest. Then, to stay warmer, add a jacket that you can shed when it warms up. You can then tie it on the back of your saddle and your vest will keep your core body warm the rest of the day.
Don’t forget the Riding gloves
My hands always get the coldest, so I have to wear gloves. A good pair of riding gloves is a must have.
Make Sure you Wear a Hat
If it’s not too cold, then a good wool hat will keep your head warm and the sun out of your eyes.
Medium Cold Weather
Medium cold temperatures are the 30s or colder with added wind chill. They can make riding pretty uncomfortable. Layers again are your friend, but adding warmer accessories is very important in staying comfortable in these temperatures.
Warm Accessories are a Must Have
By adding base layers, warm socks, warmer gloves, and a heavier coat you will keep you much more comfortable in these temperatures. You can also add some hot hands to your pockets and warm your hands up as you ride.
Cover your Ears
For these temperatures, wearing a wool hat may not be enough, so you may want to protect your ears with a warmer hat such as a beanie, a hat with flaps, or add some ear muffs. If you wear a helmet riding, they make inserts that will keep your head warmer.
Extremely Cold weather
Maybe you are the brave one who won’t let anything or any temperature get in your way of riding, and kudos to you. These tips are for riding below freezing temperatures. Nowadays, they make a lot of great outer wear to keep you much more comfortable.
Layers, coat, and Chaps
Keep those layers, but also make sure your coat is waterproof or at least water repellent. Then, you can also add a pair of insulated riding pants or chaps. Both will help insulate your lower body to keep you warmer.
You can add a heated vest to keep you toasty warm and then put your heavy coat over it. A fellow blogger told me she uses the Ororo heated vest and that you can also use it to warm your horse’s bit. You can read her review on the vest here.
If warm socks aren’t enough, they make insulated riding boots. Also, adding tall riding boots will help keep you warmer.
more tips to stay warm & comfortable
Posting adds movement, which increases blood flow and heat in your body. You don’t have to be at a trot to post. You can keep in time with your horse’s walk and post to help stay warm.
If you find your feet going numb, you can get off and walk- it does help. I’ve had to do this before.
Pack a Warm Beverage
Fill a thermos with a hot tea, cider, or coffee. Sipping on this can help warm you up on a trail ride.
Take a Shorter Ride
If you can’t stand the cold for very long, then take a short 30-minute ride and congratulate yourself on getting out there. No time in the saddle is ever wasted!
Chapstick & Sunglasses
These are added comfort for you. The winter sun can be brutal on your eyes especially if there is snow on the ground. Likewise, the winter air and wind can chap your lips. Be sure to pack these in your saddlebag.
Saddle Strings & Ties
Be sure your saddle is fitted with strings to tie on any layers on you shed if the temperature warms up.
Few Extra accessories to Help Keep you toasty
Shop for some winter horseback riding clothes
I hope you found this helpful and you can enjoy some winter horseback riding. Happy Trails!