Tips for Horse Riding in Cold Weather
Although it may feel as though spring and summer are just around the corner, you never know when a cold spell may come back around. This means that you shouldn't become too relaxed in thinking that riding conditions are going to be warm and dry from now on. If you prepare for the worst, you'll be able to enjoy a ride out in the open even if the temperature drops again.
There are certain quick and easy tips to check off your to do list when it comes to preparing for a cold ride. Equi Supermarket is here to let you know what these important but simple things are to bear in mind. These practices and habits will keep you safe, warm and comfortable should there be any colder days in the coming weeks, and then also will do the same throughout the winter season in years to come.
Dress for the Occasion
To stay warm it is of course important to wear enough layers. However, it is not just as simple as putting on any kind of clothes to keep warm. What must also be kept in mind is that horse riding, whether in warm or cold conditions, will always be a physically strenuous activity, and so is likely to lead to a fair amount of sweating. In the winter, it can be quite dangerous if your skin and your clothes become damp with sweat. This is because the moisture will begin to make your body temperature drop, and so you may become liable to catching a nasty chill.
To counteract this, the first layer that you put on should be a fairly light moisture-wicking fabric which will draw any sweat immediately from the surface of the skin to the outer layer of the fabric. From that point, if outdoors, it will evaporate and leave you dry. It also removes the salt element that sweat produces from the surface of the skin too, meaning that you will not irritate your skin and become uncomfortable as you will avoid the roughness that this would otherwise cause.
You can then wrap up in a down, flannel, quilt or woollen cosy layer for the middle. Try to avoid anything too bulky or restrictive as you would not want your clothing to affect your ability to ride. Then, it is important to have a waterproof and windproof outer layer to protect you from the elements. Make sure that the garments for the top half of you have a front fastening so you can strip a layer off easily if you are sweating too much or add a layer easily if you are feeling too shivery, thus maintaining a good average temperature.
Of course it's not just your body that you need to make sure is warm and well protected in colder weather. Remember you extremities too. Your hands and feet can suffer as they tend to be the first places that feel the cold. There are winter riding gloves designed to insulate for warmth and protect from the weather. Ensure that the gloves are flexible enough and also have some decent grip, so that your hands don't slip on the reins and you can maintain control.
For your feet, look into getting some insulating socks. You don't want your feet getting damp inside your boots, so make sure the material has moisture wicking properties too. Also bear in mind that thicker socks will add bulk and therefore could make it difficult to get your riding boots on or squash your toes too much. If you are looking to buy winter riding boots then take some thick socks with you to check the fit.
Warm Up Before You Go
As with any other form of serious exercise, it is certainly advantageous to warm up before you get started. () Furthermore, this becomes even more important when the temperatures have dropped. So to prevent your muscles from stiffening up in the cold and therefore also from muscles being strained or torn, make sure you do some light stretching before you head off. Get the blood flowing also by moving around a little bit before you get in the saddle. It will only take five or ten minutes or so but will be very helpful for you later down the line.
Bring the Essentials
There are certain items that you shouldn't be without when going for a ride, especially in the cold. One of these things is having a full water bottle with you at the yard. The reason why this is so important to be reminded of in cold weather is that sometimes it may be easily forgotten, as people perhaps do not feel like they are as dehydrated in cold weather as they are in warm, sunny weather. It is though crucial at all times not to go without water, and so this must be first on the checklist whatever the weather.
Make sure also to bring lip balm, moisturiser and, for snowy riding, UV protecting sun cream. The fierce winds in unpleasant conditions can dry out your skin, so it is important to keep on top of this by bringing the right products to counteract this. For when it snows, and especially when riding it alpine locations, it is key to remember that the sun is still beating down through the layers of cloud, and also that it is being reflected upwards from the snowy layer below. This calls for conscientious use of sun cream to prevent having painful and damaged skin by the end of the day.
Do you have any other cold weather riding tips?