What to Look for When Buying Equestrian Gloves
The hands play a crucial role in controlling the horse, and therefore it's essential that riders have good quality equestrian gloves. As you may already know, it's impossible to grip the reins properly if your hands are cold, and this makes gloves particularly important during the winter months. It might seem odd to wear gloves in the summer too, but they still provide protection from the reins, especially if jumping. Ordinary gloves can be too slippery to hold onto the reins firmly, and so investing in a pair of specialist riding gloves is certainly the best idea to provide extra grip.
In my humble opinion, the best riding gloves are made of leather. Not only are they durable and warm, but they will look smart and professional too, which makes them perfect for competitions. Having said this, depending on what type of leather is used, you may end up with a less than optimum feel of the reins. Many riders are turning to Spandex or Lycra as a way of combating this. These materials provide a close fit, and they may even make you feel like you're not wearing gloves at all. Grip dots made from rubber should ensure that your hands don't slip whilst gripping the reins.
When I first started riding, I chose cotton or wool mix gloves – mainly because they were easy to wash. However, they do come with some drawbacks. For example, they tend to get wet and cold easily and are not very hardwearing either. Whichever fabric you opt for, it's important to break the gloves in, especially if they made from leather. You may find that the gloves will be uncomfortable if they've not been worn before riding in them.
Equestrian gloves have a number of features which are intended to make them more comfortable and safe. As I mentioned earlier, you need to look out for the rubbery dots on the palms and fingers. You may not think they're very significant, but this couldn't be further from the truth. They're actually invaluable for maintaining a firm grip on the reins. Indeed, it is dangerous to use riding gloves – (especially those made of wool and Lycra) – which don't have these dots on the palms as this could lead to you losing your grip on the reins pretty easily and losing control of your horse.
Some riding gloves have a wrist closure, which may feature as a buckle, or sometimes a Velcro fastening. This can ensure a secure fit whilst also making them easier to get on and off, and giving the gloves a smart appearance where they meet your jacket sleeve.
You can also find equestrian gloves with an extra patch between the little finger and ring finger. This is where your reins sit and so is a high wear area that benefits from some extra reinforcement. You may also see this along the index finger and the thumb.
For Summer & Winter
When riding in the summer heat, it can seem odd to see horse riders wearing gloves. However the modern breathable materials make summer equestrian gloves much more comfortable. If you have competitions or shows that you are attending during the warmer months you would want a smarter pair of gloves to protect your hands and complete your look. Wearing white or light coloured gloves is usually required for dressage competitions, but always check the rule book and maybe take a spare pair along with you!
In the winter you will be aiming to keep your hands warm and dry while riding and down the yard. Look out for thermal properties and insulating materials in the riding gloves and some are even waterproof and windproof. Bear in mind that breathable materials will still be beneficial as this prevent moisture building up inside your gloves.
Washing your equestrian gloves
Whichever equestrian gloves you choose, it's vital that you clean them regularly and thoroughly, just as you would any other piece of riding equipment. Dirt can quickly build up and those made of leather can crack. Non leather gloves may become slippery and start to smell. The gloves you buy should be machine washable unless you choose leather, which you will be able to wipe clean. Spandex riding gloves can be quickly rinsed after use in order to remove most of the dirt, and this will ensure that stubborn marks are removed.