Rain or shine, frigid or balmy, ride in comfort with today’s myriad equestrian clothing options.
By Natalie DeFee Mendik, MA
Riding horses is not a fair-weather pursuit, so if you love everything equine, you’ll need to dress for any weather. The concepts are straightforward: Ventilation and sun protection in summer, insulation in winter, and water resistance year-round.
In summertime the living is easy, except when it’s way too hot. Never fear: Summer riding gear has you covered. Sun shirts not only look fashionable but also protect you from the sun’s harmful rays with UV-blocking technology. In addition, quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabrics such as COOLMAX® keep you dry (no more soggy cotton T-shirts!), and mesh fabric through the underarm area offers superior ventilation. With these high-tech fabrics, long sleeves and stand-up collars for maximum sun coverage are surprisingly comfortable. Breeches constructed of lightweight fabric and gloves with mesh ventilation panels complete the picture. For outdoor riding, a visor that attaches to your helmet shades your eyes and protects your face from the sun. Many riders also swear by cooling vests, which utilize either cold water or frozen panel inserts to cool the body.
When temperatures plummet, reach for winter riding pants (such as those lined with synthetic fleece or Thinsulate™), wicking base layers, and lined riding gloves. Most winter riding coats feature a water-resistant exterior with insulating fill, whether synthetic or down. A front zipper that runs from both top and bottom allows the coat to split to accommodate the saddle. Vests insulate your body’s core, fit under coats, and are great options for providing warmth after you shed your coat when you are riding. Grippy, insulated boots that are also stirrup-safe, coupled with wool-blend socks, keep your feet warm while providing good traction. An infinity-style neck-warmer and earmuffs that integrate under the bottom of your helmet keep drafts at bay without adding extra bulk.
For wet weather throughout the year, look for boots designed to withstand the elements. Many stylish boots are waterproof along the foot area and water-resistant up the calf. Utilitarian muck boots for the barn are fully waterproof. Jackets to keep you dry range from classic waxed coats to synthetic jackets in a rainbow of colors.
“Pick a garment for comfort,” says Lynnda Scears, owner of Classic Saddlery in Galesburg, Michigan, summing up her top tips:
- Summer clothing is best picked for its wicking/breathability properties.
- For winter layers are best, because you can add or subtract as needed during your ride.
- Pick wet-weather garments according to the temperature; breathability is important.
- For hands the newer technical fabrics are great, because they are both warmer and cooler to wear than traditional leather gloves.
- For feet go for comfort, as you might find yourself walking when you least expect to. Several companies make nice fleece-lined leather winter tall boots, which, when cared for properly, will last years.
So get out and get riding!