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Who Rides Out In Cold Weather And How Do You Dress?

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  • Who Rides Out In Cold Weather And How Do You Dress?

    Specifically, those of you who live in areas that usually get below 30°F (-1.1°C)

    I prefer cold weather riding. My horses would prefer I didn't ~ I noticed years ago that horses seem to go into a "this-is-the-season-things-will-really-try-to-eat-me" mode in the winter, but can be helped through that attitude with the promise of carrots

    Since my 2 guys are blanketed with turnouts - I hate cleaning off 5 pounds of mud in the before and after freezing weather months - I ride with a rump rug.

    Myself I layer. I do not get so cold, but I tend to sweat no matter what material I layer with. Also when I wear a face covering, my glasses fog-up.

    Anyone else have these problems? What tips do you have?

  • #2
    I can't ride or trim feet with glasses on because of the fogging. I have to wear contacts. Do you have contacts? If not, they make some anti-fog wipes for your glasses which may help. You can buy them at pharmacies. Lots of layers, big fluffy layers. Nothing tight or restrictive. Those little toe warmer dealies are great too. I keep my neck well covered, and wear a lycra/fleece head cover underneath my helmet. I've found the treeless saddle is GREAT in this weather because all the horse's heat funnels right up to me!

    Here we are in the cold temps and snow. Excuse the sour look on my horse. She'd just seen a horse-eating yhetti crashing through the woods (AKA, white tailed deer). I'm always out in the snow and cold. I can handle this weather much better than heat.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      I ride all winter except when it's really cold, like today.
      I use tights, under breeches, and if it's colder jogging pants over that. Undershirt, t-shirt, sweatshirt, polar-fleece hoodie, and jacket. Take two pairs of gloves, tuck one pair under my waistband so they are warm and dry and exchange when the others get cold and damp. I haven't had problems with my glasses, and I've never been able to wear contacts. Same clothes when I'm doing farrier work, except as I get warmed up the layers start coming off. I do as much as I can with the gloves on, but I find it harder to control the tools unless my hands are bare. I keep my tools in the cab of my truck to keep them warm till I get to work.
      I'm working on conditioning two horses for endurance for a friend and I to ride in the spring, starting a 3yr old under saddle for a friend, and schooling my extremely emotional and difficult tb for eventing in the spring, so there's lots to keep me busy all winter.


      • #4
        Good thread! I wouldn't say it "usually" is under 30 here in the winter, but maybe around 40 with 30+ mph winds... that's west TX for you!

        My trainer doesn't have an indoor, so we get used to riding in the cold, crazy wind.

        I try to layer my upper half with fleece, and then a "windbreaker" type layer. I prefer that to a big, heavy jacket - I seem to just get sweaty and freezing in those. I have a riding vest that I *love*... ends up being one of my 4 or so layers.

        For pants, I just figured out that wearing underarmour running pants (not tights) layered under Express sweatpants (fitted, but not tight or loose) and half chaps or fleece polo wraps on my lower leg works perfectly. The underarmour is awesome at keeping anything that would be sweaty, dry.

        I have warm riding gloves, and then I cut a pair of socks to act as a "wrist warmer" between my gloves and my jacket. Otherwise, the one freezing cold part on my wrist gets quite icy.

        I'm curious to see what others do!


        • #5
          Having lived in Northern NY (below zero temps) and here in Michigan (single digits recently) ... I seem to have a higher tolerance of cold ... however,
          I wear panty hose as my base layer for my legs and feet. Nylon & friction create heat... the panty hose prevent chafing and reduce bulk and add a layer to my feet AND legs.

          WOOL SOCKS. ANd be sure that there is ample space in your boots for air. NO TIGHT FITTING ANYTHING.

          Then, poly or cotton-ply long johns and jeans. Top is poly-cotton turtleneck - but you might want to find something with wool or nylon instead of the cotton - then a sweater or sweatshirt and finally, a goose-down jacket. Men's jackets have a MUCH better fit than womens... they tend to have longer body PLUS they have inside pockets for lip-stuff, tissues, id, etc.

          I have a face-free head cover, it covers my head, ears, chin, and neck but not my cheeks. It fits VERY well under a helmet or hat.

          Thin gloves that can be worn under heavier - loose mittens. SSG makes a wonderful assortment of insulated and uninsulated gloves.

          The crushable toe warmers and hand warmers are very helpful too. Remember that cotton draws heat from your body. Wool & quality Poly fleece will trap heat but release moisture. You never want to be sweaty in cold weather. Adjust your temp by removing your hat!! Not by opening a zipper.

          Shop at sporting goods stores, LL Bean, snow mobile shops, harley stores, etc. Here in MIchigan, I can find many good products at the Dunham's store... like Columbia brand fleece vests for $25 or less. Down jackets for very good prices as well as hooded sweatshirts, gloves, wool socks, etc.


          • #6
            This is my first winter riding, and it is a cold one right now in MI! I have gone through NUMEROUS types of gloves trying to the one to keep my hands warm but still give me enough movement to function properly without having to go bare-handed. Right now I am using a set of inslulated deerskin gloves from TSC. So far so good! Fingers still get nippy if I am not moving around enough tho...tacking and untacking are the main problem times!
            Clothes...I wear a thermal shirt (Chili's I believe) under a long sleeve shirt and then my down jacket (men's small). On really cold days, I change to a heavy weight thermal and add a sweatshirt or something!
            Pants...so far just thermal pants (chili's again) and my riding jeans...I have a set of full seat over-pants ordered since I discovered how cold my legs get when trudging through the snow to get a horse (I only have short boots)!
            Socks...2 pair. I got heated socks for christmas, which help, but I have yet to compare them to just a toe heat pack. I'm thinking I should try knee-highs as a layer if pantyhose work so well!
            Head-I got a polar fleece wrap for my helmet...way warm Sometimes too warm and I just undo the face wrap part, which the horses seem to love to play with!

            Happy riding!
            RIP Traveler & Tesla <3


            • Original Poster

              Thanks, all.

              No contacts, just glasses. They only fog up when I wear a balaclava or ski-mask. But that is a very big 'only', lol!

              I do not feel cold too much. I do wear wool socks and Dafna® winter riding boots 1/2 size larger than my normal shoe size. My feet are always fine.

              I have both polar fleece type and real sheepskin fleece headbands and a lighter weight cashmere cap.

              All make my head sweat

              Usually sweat pants alone suffice for me 30°F - 40°F with either poly-cotton or silk long john bottoms about 29°F and below.

              My problem is my scalp, face and chest tend to sweat no matter what. Winter, summer, humid, dry.
              I wear a cotton headband under hood or cap and under my helmet when riding. I have to keep getting a new one. The perspiration freezes and that is when I get cold.

              I have tried a cotton "A" shirt, then poly-cotton T-shirt, then a long-sleeve cotton (or poly-cotton or acrylic) flannel, or a L/S cotton Henley, or a L/S turtleneck that is either cotton or P/C.

              All start me a-sweating.

              I have tried going lighter - even only a tee and any one of the aforementioned long-sleeves will overheat me.

              Has anyone ever heard of or use Under Armor®??

              I wonder if that would keep me warm w/o sweating.


              • #8
                I find that loose gloves work best for me. Anything tight on my fingers cuts off the circulation and makes them cold. I got frostbite on my fingertips back in my early twenties, so they don't have much feeling for anything BUT cold. Still, loose is better than tight, and if loose enough, I can pull my hand back and curl the fingers in to warm them up, one hand at a time.

                For my feet, I have rubber insulated boots that aren't the safest for riding, but they are warm enough to prevent frost-bitten toes. I used fleece socks with these yesterday (temp in the teens, very windy). It doesn't get super cold here like it does farther north. Cold enough for me since getting frostbitten, though.

                And I layer. If I'm doing fast riding, I prefer a vest. If I plan to do much walking (such as icy conditions like yesterday), I wear my down jacket instead of the vest. I had an undershirt, mock turtleneck, sweatshirt, and down vest. Neck warmer and ear protection with a hard hat on top. I was fine for about an hour of mostly walking. It would have been lovely if we could have gone faster, but the trails were slippery. Oh, and I had silk long johns under my jeans.

                For conditioning days, I dress much lighter, since I work up a sweat pretty quickly. I can't stand anything around my neck when I'm working hard, so I wear a mock turtleneck with no neck warmer.

                The trick is to turn back to the trailer or the barn BEFORE you get cold. If you wait until you feel those icy fingers, you risk frostbite before you can get to the warmth. I know this from experience--I was 5 miles from home when I started to feel cold (below 0 degF), and by the time I got home my fingers were frozen. Now I can't tolerate the cold as well as before that happened.
                "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                • #9
                  Just Say No

                  Say no to Cotten. My husband is a big runner and one of there big sayings is Cotten is Rotten. I never use cotten winter or summer it does not breath and if you sweat it stays wet use things that wick the wet off you.


                  • #10
                    Great thread! I actually prefer extreme cold to extreme heat because you can always put more clothes on.

                    My system involves two main tenets: layering and high-quality OUTDOOR gear. Stuff made specifically for riding will not cut it in most cases, so except for boots, breeches, and show apparel, I buy technical outdoor clothing meant for the elements.

                    As someone else said, stay away from cotton. Wool is great if you can find thin layering pieces (Patagonia is making some great wool base layers now, but they're $$$), and capilene and fleece are musts. Also, a GoreTex shell will both keep you warm and will not be too bulky while doubling as a rain-resistant layer.

                    For example, today it was 21 degrees and I wore on top: two capilene layers, two expedition-weight polar fleeces, and a synthetic-fill jacket. On my legs I had just jeans on, but with chaps I will usually be plenty warm. On my hands I wear thin-grip outdoor gloves (again, not made specifically for riding but more durable than anything riding-related you can find) with glove liners, and on my feet I had on two pairs of wool socks.

                    On my head, under my helmet, I wear a super-thin but very warm cycling helmet liner. Those fuzzy neck-warmer oversize turtleneck thingies really help, too, because you can pull them up almost to your eyes. Occasionally I'll stick some hand warmers in the palms of my gloves, but they can be kind of annoying to deal with along with the reins.

                    I can usually stay warm in very cold weather, even if it's not fun. Although I prefer extreme cold to extreme hot, it still sucks!


                    • #11
                      I can't LIVE without UnderArmor, though I get the WallyWorld version--which is UnderArmor brand, but about 1/2 the price fo catalogues. I originally got it for work (wear under my ballistic vest--you want to talk about sweat-then-chill!) but transitioned it to riding.

                      It's an odd thing--I still sweat, and sometimes it *feels* almost like I sweat more--but it wicks it away from me, so I DON'T get chilled. That's the standard winter stuff, but in loose fit, not the compression fit.

                      I got some 'fitness -wicking' t-necks at Wallyworld, Possibly Dansko? can find out the brand. They are even better. I feel like I don't sweat as much in them, and they still wick. They're less than $10 and I'm hoping to snag a few more on clearance. Little-to-no colour choice but as a base layer who cares.

                      Cuddleduds are my preferred bottom layer. I am going to try some of that on top too, just right warm without itch, bulk to being too warm.

                      I also found out just this year (after 18 years in Ice Station Zebra!) that GOOD polarfleece is heads above the cheapo version. Lighter, wicks better, warmer. Absolutley no comparison. I have an LLBean outlet near me, but I'm to the point I'd even pay full price (well, sale price maybe) for the right piece. THAT big a difference.

                      Unless it is below 10, I don't actually wear a jacket, I wear my layers and a down vest. I am much more comfortable that way. I have a hooded sweatshirt that is polarfleece that is perfect, because it stacks around my neck without being tight.

                      Even though it's the torso that gets hot--I sweat horribly in my down coat unless it's really super cold--somehow having the arms less layered means I am more even temp-wise.

                      I have a beanie liner for my helmet, and when it's really cold, the polarfleece thing that goes OVER the helmet that really helps for the cheeks as it cuts the wind.

                      Now, as far as chores and stuff, when it's like today (windchills at least -15 to -20 ) I will put bag balm on my cheeks, nose and chin. I'm not out long enough to worry about sunburn, but it helps sooooo much to prevent the really bad windburn and chapping. I can't stand to have my nose covered, so ski mask type stuff is out of the question.

                      I will say, if it's under 20, I usually ride bareback too. Plenty warm.
                      InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                      Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                      • #12
                        I usually don't get that cold either. But, if I do, layering works best. If it is really cold, I'll put on schooling tights with jeans over that. The tights are very thin so, non-restrictive, but warm under the jeans.

                        On top, again I just layer a few t-shirts with a sweat shirt over that and my jacket.

                        It is still hunting season here, so I have to wear an orange helmet cover, otherwise I'll wear a thicker helmet cover that velcros under the chin.
                        MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

                        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by beth heffelfinger View Post
                          Say no to Cotten. My husband is a big runner and one of there big sayings is Cotten is Rotten. I never use cotten winter or summer it does not breath and if you sweat it stays wet use things that wick the wet off you.
                          Really? I thought cotton was breathable... What kind of material would help when I'm sweating doing stalls in the morning?
                          MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

                          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                          • #14
                            pintopiaffe-Please post or PM the brands of warm clothes! If I can do wallyworld, instead of the sports stores, that would be great. I tend to notice a large lack of women's long-john stuff tho!
                            RIP Traveler & Tesla <3


                            • #15
                              huntertwo: yup,cotton is not breathable. When backpacking, they say "cotton kills." (because you sweat in the day and then are cold and dead at night). There are a lot of great synthetic materials. I have capilene long underwear; they are light breathable and warm. I have them in different thicknesses, and can layer them. Got mine from Patagonia. Nike makes "dri-fit" stuff; UnderArmor also has a good product. Also nice are lots of fleeces--thin ones thick ones, micro fleece, macrofleece(?) and of course a good wind-proof fleece. I think fleece is better than sweat shirts because sweatshirts are bulky, not particularly warm, not at all windproof, and HELLISH when wet.


                              • #16
                                Well, when it's just a little cool out I wear long johns under my jeans, mountain horse boots (that come up to my knees), a shirt, a bunny hug and a jacket with mitt/gloves combos. Oh and a toque. When it starts to get really cold out (below -15C) I ad SUPER warm ski pants, a scarf and an extra pair of socks. Basically I am SO bundled that even in -25C with a wind I am still very warm. I really have not gotten cold yet. Today it was -15C and I was trimming hooves. I was extra bundled and ended up having to take off my scarf and undoing my jacket. I was sweating like crazy. But that can be hard work!
                                My horses past and present....


                                • #17
                                  I do not go riding out in the cold without wearing my neoprene full chaps from Just Chaps.

                                  They are the best!!!!!! They block the wind and keep the heat in.
                                  Everything else, just as everyone else said. Two pairs of gloves, neck muff, wool socks, fleece layers and jacket.

                                  Not lately. I do NOT ride at 0 degrees!


                                  • #18
                                    I find on the not-so-cold days (between 30 and 40) that a vest really does help keep the sweating down. Your arms can let off the heat while your core temperature stays warm enough. My vest isn't down, but I've got one. I just like my old vest too much to change it for the down one.

                                    I only wear long johns when it is really cold, otherwise I sweat too much. It was the same when I was jogging. I guess we all have different comfort zones, and for me, keeping my torso warm is the key, and allowing heat to dissapate through my legs and arms helps keep the sweating down to a minimum. Then again, I ride a very bouncy horse, so riding him generates a lot of heat. If I were to ride a gaited horse, I'd have to dress warmer.

                                    I find that the wind sucks the heat right out of my body, and that is when I layer arms and legs. I can tolerate cold pretty well without the wind. The problem with keeping the wind off is that you do sweat more when working hard. I'm gonna look at some of the product mentioned above to see if there is a better way to keep the wind off without causing sweating during harder rides. Hmmmm....

                                    Great thread!!
                                    "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Oh, I SOOOOO agree about the riding bareback thing!

                                      Unfortunately, the 15 hh horse is somewhat out of condition, and I have a hard time climbing up the 16.2+ black mountain to ride him bb


                                      • #20
                                        OK, the brand at WallyWorld of the wicking mock-tnecks is "Athletic Works". You'll find it in the section with the fitness clothes. It's slick and shiny on the inside, and a tiny bit brushed on the outside--sucks to wear under fleece because the fleece grabs right on to it, --but-- IDEAL to wear under fleece as far as I can tell, because it's really warm, wicking and keeps the body try even when you sweat.

                                        The Under Armor stuff is in the men's section. I have two Under Armor, one athletic works and one Champion brand undershirt--all feel identical. They're the ones that sort of *feel* like you sweat more. I don't think you do, I think it's something to do with how they wick.

                                        But hurry for both--last week when I was in the Spring stuff was coming out already!

                                        Don't entirely disregard the more upper end places. I used to, because I'm definitely on a K-Mart/Wal*Mart budget... but when I look just because it's the right time for clearance (not because I NEED IT NOW) I have found cheaper than big box prices on far nicer pieces. Keep your eye on the LLBean website for clearances. Cabelas too. I never thought I could shop at either place, but have some excellent pieces now from both--didn't pay more than $10 for a single one.
                                        InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                                        Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)