Yes, I'm talking willingly riding outdoors in inclement weather with a perfectly good indoor that has great footing available.
Goobs has made it very clear he despises working in the ring. Took him out for a hack last week (back when it was sunny and 60) and basically did a flat work session on the trails... he was flippin fantastic! Had a nice bouncy canter that we've always struggled to attain, nice and forward, light in the bridle, coming up actually OVER his topline, everything you could want in a dressage test while out traipsing through the fall foliage.
So I'm ditching the ring, even if it means some discomfort on my part. I have gear for myself (nice oilskin duster that covers to my knees and various jackets/layers). But I'm concerned about my horse's comfort in less than ideal weather. He is a pretty hardy little guy, lives out in a 10 acre pasture. When it's cold and rainy, he gets a rain sheet. I've noticed when it's cool and damp out, he's starting to get a little cold backed and a bit stiff (he's got some arthritis in the hocks). I have a BOT blanket that I use on him when I'm grooming and it seems to alleviate both issues. I don't really want to use the BOT when out riding in crap weather, seems like it would not hold up for long under those stresses. I do have a fleece quarter sheet I use when it's cold out, but not out in the rain.
Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? I know he's not the Wicked Witch of the East, but I don't want him to get trail sour from being miserable out there!
First, I wish that I had a suitable area to work outside at all. I'm stuck indoors year round unless I trailer out.
Second, I think that hacking out in any kind of weather is a good idea to keep horses fresh, fit, and prepared for inclement weather at horse shows.
However, I think that at some point he is going to need to learn how to act like a reasonable citizen in an indoor and you are going to have to learn how to ride him into one. I think it will produce a better dressage test in the future if you can get him to focus and stay focused in a "boring" area.
If he's cold backed, throw 1/4 sheet over- at least until hes warm. if it's drizzling, you can use a wool one (if u have it), since wool insulates when wet. Then a full cooler when u come in. I also prefer to have them clipped in some way- how much is personal preference but b/c I grew up hunting, a trace or hunter clip are my winter go-tos and then u can skip a 1/4 sheet unless it's really cold and wet.
And the wise, Jack Daniels drinking, slow-truck-driving, veteran TB handler who took "no shit from no hoss Miss L, y'hear," said: "She aint wrapped too tight."
I have a waterproof 1/4 sheet that I use for my mare. If it is really cold, I will put her fleece 1/4 sheet on under the waterproof one. We don't have an indoor at the farm where I board, although we have a decent outside arena. I hack out at least 50% of the time(yay for boarding on a 100 acre farm!)
Having spent many years WITHOUT an indoor and riding in whatever I had to, I don't typically ride, willingly, in the rain, unless it's a warmish, soft rain. I'm a wimp, though.
I would invest in a quality waterproof quarter sheet. I have the Rambo one, and it is lovely. And fairly reasonably priced considering it is a Rambo product! I also like that it has some reflective tape on it, as I do hack on roads around here. That will be nice to have while I'm hacking my black horse on a grey day along the road.