We are expecting frigid temperatures here in New England for the next few days. Overnight lows will be in the single digits (if we’re lucky) and the highs will be in the low teens.
Personally, I don’t ride if it’s lower than 20° F. Any lower than that and my toes and fingers are just too cold. Also, since I ride outside year round, I am careful about riding when the conditions are icy.
I guess it’s all relative. From what I’ve read on bulletin boards, folks in Canada don’t blanch at riding when the temps fall below zero while those in the south start cringing when the temps dip below 50°.
Horses don’t seem to mind the cold weather as much as we do and while there are concerns that riding in very cold temperatures might predispose horses to respiratory issues, there’s little agreement on how cold “very cold” must be to cause a problem.
So, how do intrepid cold weather riders stay warm? Here are some tips (mine and some gleaned from horse forums):
- Winter breeches are great. I wear polar fleece breeches and love them.
- Full chaps add warmth and a wind-proof layer.
- Nylon tights under everything add a layer of warmth.
- Under Armour gets many thumbs up for really holding heat in.
- Wear lots of light layers but don’t wear cotton next to your skin as it will make you cold if you perspire.
- Spray your feet with antiperspirant spray before you put your sock liners on. It keeps your feet from sweating. Dry feet = warmer feet. Wet sweaty feet = cold feet!
- I like SSG lined Rancher gloves
- Fleece lined breeches
- Many layers-no one cares if you look like a blimp!!!
- I have had very good luck with Mountain Horse boots
- Definitely get those little carbon, air activated hand and foot warmers. TOE warmers work really well inside SSG winter training gloves
- The secret (shhhh) is THIN layers. Either silk or polypropeline works great as the base layer – very thin. For the feet – polypropolene sock liners (keeps the heat in but moves the sweat to the next layer) the thin cotton socks and then wool outer socks works great. Legs – silk long underwear and breeches. The core is silk undershirt, thin cotton turtleneck and then a fleece type jacket. The best place to shop for winter riding layers is at Ski shops and runners shops – my current favorite is Mountain Co-op. The biggest thing to remember is to switch to dry clothes as soon as you are finished riding