Upper Body: the 3-layers technique
1 – The base layer: breathable material. This first and base layer should allow to evacuate humidity caused by sweat when you’re riding, which can cause a sensation of cold and lets the heat out. Pick a base layer in a fast-drying material and with long sleeves. Instead of cotton t-shirts which usually take a long time to dry, pick a technical fabric in synthetic material or even better merino wool.
2 – The second layer: insulating. This layer should keep your body heat in so you don’t feel cold. In winter out in the cold, the only heatsource is yourself, and when practicing an outdoors sport, heat is rare and precious! Once again go for a layer that will dry quickly in order not to retain humidity. A fleece sweater or a light puffer jacket are great options, you can even add several layers here as long as you keep some mobility in your shoulders and arms. Think about the intensity of the effort you will provide in order not to sweat too much, for instance you can wear a puffer in the stables and switch it for a fleece jacket when you’re out riding.
3 – The third layer: protection. This “outer shell” should protect you from wind and rain. Pick a waterproof and windproof jacket and always go for a breathable fabric that will evacuate humidity. But be careful, the more waterproof the jacket, the less breathable: this is the dilemma for this outer layer. Gore-tex is an excellent choice as it combines waterproof and breathability. This outer layer is almost the most important one, so don’t go cheap on the quality of your jacket here!
Pay attention to your extremities
1 – Hands: our advice here is to use two pairs of gloves. When riding, you need mobility and precision so use gloves that are specifically made for horse riding. On foot when grooming your horse, chose gloves that are thicker and waterproof, so that if you happen to slip your hand in the trough or when picking your horse’s feet, your hands will stay dry and clean. If it’s very cold, you can even find heated gloves for horse riding and you can also use heating pads to place in your pockets in order to warm up your hands from time to time.
3 – Head: a good beanie or woollen hat or headband is needed when you’re on foot, but is hardly compatible with wearing your riding hat. Luckily there are some specific earmuffs that can be worn on top of your helmet. You can also wear a balaclava or a very thin beanie under your riding hat. For your neck, don’t wear a scarf as they can be harmful if you’re falling off your horse, and go for a fleece-lined neck warmer.
Legs – don’t forget them!
1 – All-in-one trousers for cold wet weather: you can now find very good trousers that are both fleece-lined and waterproof, perfect for wintertime riding.
2 – A waterproof layer for rainy days: when it’s pouring, you can add an extra waterproof layer over your usual riding breeches or lined riding breeches. There are also now leg warmers that are protecting your thighs from the rain and that can be rolled up when not used. Don’t hesitate to look in the cycling aisle or section to find good waterproof gear.
3 – Long leather riding chaps: leather is an amazing material: it’s warm, it keeps the heat in and is also windproof. A pair of long leather chaps is a great option to keep you warm in winter when horse riding, however be aware that leather requires care and maintenance and to be kept in a dry place in order to keep all its qualities for as long as possible.
4 – Thermal riding skirt: the riding skirt is a technical piece of gear, both practical and very winterproof! You can wear it over your riding breeches and it insulates from the cold both rider and horse (and even protects the saddle). Depending on which material it is made of, it can also be waterproof.