“The daughter who won’t lift a finger in the house is the same child who cycles madly off in the pouring rain to spend all morning mucking out a stable.” – Samantha Armstrong
For those of us who love to ride during the winter months, dressing appropriately is a must! At Mountain Horse, we suggest layers – three layers is the magic number: a base layer, a mid-layer and an outer layer.
The base layer should be snug and needs to be a fabric that won’t absorb moisture or sweat. Synthetic fabrics work best and transport moisture away from the body, keeping you warm and dry. Full-length bottoms, preferably with stirrup bottoms will keep pant legs in place. A long sleeve top with a high neckline will provide added protection. Comfortable socks, in materials such as Merino wool, will provide natural warmth. Avoid wearing cotton, which traps perspiration.
Mid-LayerA mid-layer should fit loosely without being baggy. Mid-layers are designed to trap and hold body heat and to also carry moisture away from the base layer. We recommend a fleece jacket or pull-over with a zip neck. Zip necks are perfect for quick and easy ventilation, allowing you to trap heat in cool conditions. They can be easily opened to release heat during strenuous activity. Depending on the temperature and your individual thermostat, you may need to wear more than one mid-layer.
Outer LayerThe outer layer is designed to protect you from the elements, such as wind, rain, and snow, and should be breathable for ultimate comfort.
Look for jackets that are windproof, waterproof, and breathable. Outerwear with zippers under the arms aid in ventilation. A two-way zipper on the front of the jacket will allow you to zip-up from the bottom while in the saddle. This feature is great for lower body ventilation and comfort while riding.Winter riding breeches should have full-length zippers on each leg, allowing you to pull these pants on over bulky under-layers with ease.
Outer layers should also be durable and able to withstand working barn conditions. A ripped jacket or pant is useless if it starts to rain.
Dressing in layers is also convenient if weather conditions improve. Outer layers can be removed and mid-layers will suffice.
Hands, Head & FeetNow that your body is warm, dry, and toasty, don’t forget about your hands, head, ears, and feet. Even the best layering system will not keep your extremities warm if they are not properly protected. Gloves or mittens in waterproof, breathable fabric will keep fingers dry and warm. Headbands and caps that can be worn under helmets are ideal. Try a balaclava to keep even the coldest noses and ears protected. Blocking that bone-chilling wind from reaching these smaller body parts is half the battle in the fight to stay warm. And most of all, keep those feet properly protected. Sturdy boots with dirt-repellent treads made specifically for traction on ice and snow and security in the irons, will keep you on your feet while walking and in the irons while riding. Look for boots that are waterproof and breathable. Tall boots with zippers in back are easy to put on and take off.
Also, remember to stay hydrated when it’s cold outside. Drinking plenty of fluids will assist your body in its ability to keep you warm.
Dressing properly, and in layers, is the key to an enjoyable winter ride and we hope our layering tips will keep you comfortable this winter!