Staying warm in winter can be a challenge for equestrians. Without the luxury of an indoor barn or arena, most of our time is spent in the great outdoors. Filling up water buckets, grooming muddy ponies, trudging across frozen fields all have to happen on even the coldest days.
With a little preparation and the right kit though it’s possible to make winter a bit more bearable. Here are our tips to stay warm this winter.
In this blog:
Layers are the key to staying warm. Instead of one thick coat, multiple layers help to trap heat and also give you the option to add or remove layers throughout the day. For example, you might want lots of layers if you’re stood still teaching a lesson but if you get warm schooling or mucking out then it’s easy to remove one.
If you’re not sure what layers are best, consider the 3-layer system: base layer, mid layer and outer layer.
The base layer should be breathable and wick away any moisture. This is important because as equestrians we’re working hard and you might work up a sweat. The base layer moves moisture away from your skin so you stay dry and warm.
The mid layer adds warmth and insulation. Try to match your mid layer to the temperature, so opt for something thicker on cooler days. If you’re going to be working hard or it’s not quite so cold, try to wear a thinner mid layer so you don’t overheat and sweat as this could cause you to feel chilled.
The outer layer should protect you from the elements. You’ll ideally want this to be wind and water resistant to keep you warm and dry. A longer length coat can be beneficial to keep your thighs warm and if designed for riding will usually have a rear zip to allow it to be worn comfortably in the saddle.
For drivers, an apron can provide some much-needed insulation on cold days. They can also be used as a lap rug for two people.
When riding or driving in the winter, gloves are a necessity. A good pair of gloves should keep your hands warm without compromising on your feel on the reins.
Gloves often have a habit of disappearing just when you need them most so it’s useful to keep a spare pair at the yard.
When not in the saddle, keep your head warm with a headband or hat. This helps to trap the heat in and has the added benefit of hiding hat hair!
Keeping Your Horse Warm
It’s not only us that can feel the cold but our horses too. While it is important to remember they typically cope better with colder temperatures than us, horses that are clipped, older, lacking condition, or less hardy may need an extra layer.
An exercise sheet is a useful piece of kit to have in your tack room. These can be designed to fit around your saddle, or with rein terret holes for a good fit whilst driving. Some styles also have a waterproof outer to keep your horse dry.
Not only that but exercise sheets help your horse’s muscles stay warm when warming up and cooling down. Horses that are cold-backed or particularly fresh in cold weather can also benefit from them.
To prevent your horse becoming chilled after exercise use a cooler rug. This will help to wick away moisture and regulate their temperature.
Once your horse is dry you can then put their normal turnout or stable rug on. Looking for advice on what turnout rug is right for your horse? Check out our turnout rug guide.
- Stay as dry as possible – if your gloves or jacket are wet try and swap them out for something dry.
- Keep moving – getting a bit chilly on your hack? A brisk trot will warm up you and your horse. Straightening up the muck heap is another way that will definitely get you feeling warm!
- Don’t keep your gloves and jacket at the yard (unless you have a nice heated tack room!). There’s nothing worse than having to put on gloves or a coat that are still cold and damp from the day before. Take your clothes home to properly dry and they’ll be warm when you put them back on too.
- Bring a thermos – if you haven’t got a kettle at the yard then bring a thermos with some hot tea or coffee. Then, when you’re absolutely freezing you still have that to look forward to and warm you up!
We hope you now have some new ways to stay warm this winter so you can still enjoy spending time with your horses. If all else fails, skip riding or driving, snuggle up at home with a blanket and dream about summer!