Winter is upon us in many parts of the country, and while we would all love to cozy up indoors with a fireplace and a blanket, we have horses that need to be ridden and cared for, so we must face the elements. Here are some tips to stay warm while you’re at the barn on those frigid winter days to come.
Picking the right layers for ultimate warmth is an art. Start by choosing the right base layer – something that can eliminate the need for extra layers, since it’ll trap your body’s heat and warm you up better than less effective sweatshirts may. Depending on what level of cold you’re dealing with, plan your next layers according to temperature forecasts. A great middle layer is the Patagonia Better Sweater or a similar quarter zip with a collar. Avoid crewneck sweatshirts if possible, because they allow for more cold air to creep in. Next, pick your outer layer. Equestrian brands have you covered on insulated jackets, but don’t hesitate to shop mainstream brands for equally warm options.
2. Hats or headbands:
Your ears can be subject to some serious cold if you don’t properly cover them while you’re riding. While a fluffy hat is great for barn chores, it likely can’t fit under your helmet. Many sporting goods stores offer ear covers that are quite thin but provide a great deal of warmth. Many runners use headbands like these in the winter, but they can also be great for riding since they are just small enough to fit comfortably in most helmets. Just be sure you can still hear well enough while wearing one.
3. Insulated socks:
Rather than pile on layers of socks and risk cutting off circulation to your toes, find an effective option that traps heat well. Often just one layer is the best route if that layer is made for cold weather. Additionally, try to keep your riding boots somewhere warm while you’re not wearing them so you don’t start off with the cold seeping through to your toes.
4. Neck scarves:
Scarves can be tricky since they don’t always stay put while we’re riding and often get in the way of what we’re trying to do either on a horse or on the ground. The equestrian brand Botori makes very compact but warm neck scarves that don’t fly everywhere while you’re riding and do a great job keeping your face and neck warm. They tuck right inside your jacket and stay in place on your face with a warm, fuzzy side to keep you extra snug.
5. Hand warmers:
Because our extremities are often the first things to go numb from the cold, grab yourself a pair of winter riding gloves for those chilly winter months. If even the warmest gloves don’t quite cut it, buy a large box of hand warmers and stuff a pair of them down each glove for your ride. Since your hand will be in a fist, your fingers will feel the heat too while you’re riding. We are much less effective at the barn when our hands are numb!
6. Ski pants:
This may sound like a strange outer garment to wear at the barn, but ski pants will actually be life savers for the time you spend not riding. They are baggy enough to be worn over your breeches and will provide serious warmth prior to or following a ride, or while you do barn chores.
7. Hot chocolate:
Most barns have microwaves somewhere, so pick up a big box of instant hot chocolate to sip on if nothing else can keep you warm!