It is certainly no secret that riding in the winter can be…less than enjoyable. From waking up before the sun (let’s be honest, you probably do that all year round), to trudging out to the barn in the snow, to trying to get your hands to work with you in the cold, we’ll have to be honest with ourselves; winter riding seriously sucks sometimes. We’d like to think that seeing our beloved equine companions will make it all worth it, and it usually does, but there are just some days that may be better spent on the couch with about five blankets and a hot cup of cocoa. Fortunately, there are a few different steps and precautions you can take in order to ensure that your winter riding experience is just a bit less miserable.
1. Layers, Layers, Layers
Your mother wasn’t playing around when she bundled you up in a fortress of sweaters, coats, socks, and scarves; she wasn’t about to send you on your way without at least 3 layers on to protect you from the blistering cold. As we grow older, we all start to realize that our mothers might have been on to something, after all. The fact is, mother knows best, especially when it comes to keeping warm and safe in inclimate weather. Layering your clothes is probably the most efficient way to ensure that your body heat stays right where it needs to be. Investing in thermal clothing could make a night and day difference for you, as well. There’s no shame in looking a little bulky; layering your clothes is a simple thing that can keep you warm all day long.
2. Dry Feet Are Warm Feet
One of winter’s biggest headaches is even the smallest amount of snow making its way into your shoes, causing your feet to get cold and wet. It can be hard to concentrate on anything when your feet are freezing and numb. Invest in some thick socks, the higher the better. Thermal riding boots are also an option, and they can entirely transform your winter riding experience. Tall riding boots are generally better than paddock boots for winter riding; the idea is to keep your lower legs and feet completely covered and protected.
3. Invest In A Good Jacket
Odds are that you probably have a few good winter coats at home, but you may not want to wear them to the barn. Winter coats can be expensive, and many people choose to simply layer up with sweatshirts to head to the barn to ride. While this certainly works, it’s a good idea to consider investing in a durable, waterproof, and insulated jacket especially for winter riding. This will help keep you dry and warm.
4. Bring Hot Beverages And Snacks
Most people spend at least a few hours at the barn. If you’re planning to spend a decent amount of time riding or hanging out with other riders, plan ahead and bring some hot beverages and snacks. Investing in an insulated to-go cup may be the best decision you make for yourself all winter; this will allow you to bring your favorite hot beverage in and come back to it whenever you get the chance. If you invest in the right type of cup or thermos, your coffee, tea, or cocoa will still be piping hot and ready for you to enjoy. If you have a thermos, bringing in some hot soup can provide you with the perfect warm snack when you’re finished riding.
5. Take Breaks And Warm Up
Many barns have at least one heated room in the building, whether it be the tack room, a sitting room, or even a space heater in the aisle. If you’re planning on spending a good amount of your day at the barn, take some time every now and then to warm up and relax for a moment. You’ll thank yourself later.
6. Ride Safely
Riding in the arena day after day can get boring, that is for sure. It’s only natural to want to venture outside for a ride to enjoy the crisp air and gorgeous snowscape, but it’s very important to make sure that you know exactly what sort of ground you’re bringing your horse onto. If you have an outdoor arena that has been plowed and cleared off, it’s best to stick to riding there. Once the ground is covered in snow, it is basically impossible to see what is underneath; branches, holes, rocks, and uneven terrain have the potential to cause major injury to both you and your horse. Always take precaution when riding in the winter and stick to an arena or riding ring; it’s always better to air on the side of caution when the safety of both you and your horse is concerned.
7. Invest In A Good Pair Of Gloves
Every equestrian knows how miserable and awful it can be trying to get through their barn chores or riding with frozen, numb hands. To save yourself some misery and to ensure that you will be able to make use of all ten fingers, invest in some insulated gloves. There are a few different companies who make waterproof, insulated gloves for both men and women who work around horses or livestock. Ditch the cheap, thin gloves you picked up years ago and invest in a good pair of gloves that will last you years!
Riding in the winter certainly has its challenges, but with the proper precautions and steps taken, it doesn’t have to be a miserable process. Equestrians are well-known to be a tough, determined group of people; we all know that snow won’t stop us from making the trip out to the barn, but it’s important to make sure that you are safe, warm, and actually enjoying your time with your horse. Going forward with the information you learned here, you will be able to make some changes and plan ahead for your trips to the barn to ensure that you can enjoy your time with your horse at the barn in the coming winter months.