How to Ride in the Winter

In case you haven't noticed, because you're a bear and in hibernation, it is winter. It gave us the slip for most of December but when the calendar rolled over so did temperatures down in the teens.

But I don't WANT it to be winter.
I'm more okay with it than you would think, although part of that definitely has to do with the fact that I love my winter gear because most of it is cute and purple. It's also warmer than it could be. I went to school in upstate New York where we only cancelled polo practice if it was below 12* (without wind chill). Lower than that and we were worried about the horse's lungs. It's all about the horse. Of course.

Tip #1: Layers.
You've got this one down. Wear ALL the clothes. When I was prepping to have practice in sub twenties temperatures I had a clothing system. My dresser had three drawers separated by layer; some kind of thin base layer, a thicker long sleeved shirt, and a short sleeve shirt. After that I'd top it off with a sweatshirt, a vest, and then a jacket. Typically I wore leggings or tights underneath sweatpants (yep) and then full chaps on top of that. I'm a weenie in the cold, and I'm not kidding around when I say it was cold as hell in New York. And when you're practicing for two hours at night and then feeding/watering horses after you have to be serious or you're going to get chilblains and patches of numbness. When I started warming up I took the jacket off. Just like with horses, sweat is the enemy. The second you get sweaty is probably ten minutes before you're freezing.

But I just wanted to do late night check...

Tip #2: Don't layer
"What?" you ask, incredulous. "But what about Tip #1?" Ah, yes. It's important to layer over your body but you do not want to layer on your hands and feet. If you can't move your toes they won't be able to stay warm and you'll get frostbite. Trust me, I know. Invest in a nice pair of winter gloves. I like these, the SSG 10 Below.

I love feeling my fingers!!

They're waterproof so you can wash the bit off after you ride without losing a pinky. Also they have these awesome wrist straps so if you do need to take the glove off it can just dangle by your wrist so it's easy to slip back on after you're done adjusting your girth/bridle/wiping your nose/what have you. Before you put them on, breath warm air into them so they're not little caskets of frigid air to put your fingers in.

Also, go get Smartwool socks and probably footwarmers. You like your toes, right?

Tip #3: Get these pants.
But don't buy them at Kohl's. I went to TJ Maxx (or any similar style store) and got them for $10. I've had them two winter seasons and they've pilled a bit but otherwise have held up brilliantly. They're warm and fleecy on the inside, higher rise so you don't get a slice of cold back when you bend over. They've far exceeded my expectations.

Tip #4: Invest in a cooler.
I'm sure you're wondering where the pony stuff is. Besides having an arsenal of blankets, I also have this cooler. I'd love a nice wool cooler but that isn't quite in the budget yet, but fleece still works. I like this one more than most others because it covers the neck but isn't as bulky and flappy as traditional square coolers are. If I could change anything about it I'd add a belly surcingle and make it come in at least small, medium and large. The 'one size fits all' is pretty big on Runkle, so I don't know that I'd get it for a horse much smaller than him (but he's a pretty dainty little TB). It would definitely fit on a larger horse. If you wait for a sale you'll find it cheap at Dover. I also have a matching quarter sheet.

Tip #5: Don't.
Look, I won't tell if you won't. And until we can all afford to bugger off to Ocala for the winter we'll have to get creative and buy these:

Warm with a desensitizing bonus!

Stay warm!


  1. ha awesome! i definitely hit up TJ Maxx and Marshalls and the like for their cheap sweat-wicking activewear (think running or yoga type long sleeved tops) to serve as base layers.


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