What to Wear Horseback Riding in the Winter

It can be difficult sometimes to brave the weather in the winter time. But you still have to – to take care of your horse properly and, of course, go riding! Personally, I find it particularly difficult to decide exactly what to wear winter horseback riding. I need something that will keep me warm while I’m grooming my horse, but that will not cause me to overheat once I start riding.

The best thing to do when you’re thinking about what to wear winter horseback riding is think in LAYERS!

Layers make keeping warm very easy and they’re the best for your muscles. If you get too hot as you start riding, you can take layers off. But then when you’re cooling down and grooming your horse after your ride, you can just throw your layers back on.

Start with a great base layer

For the coldest weather, you’ll need to begin with a base layer. This layer should be comfortable.

You’ll need a layer that feels good against your skin and has some kind of moisture wicking.

For ladies, the Irideon Thermaluxe Turtleneck is an awesome option, offering a texture that is breathable and dampness wicking, while being silky soft.

For men, the Horze Back on Track Underwear Shirt gives an additional layer of breathable warmth with a one of a kind, microbe safe texture.

These shirts help hold in warmth, but they are thin so they don’t add excess bulk to your outfit.

Work your way outwards

The colder it is, the more layers you’ll need

After the base layer, you should include a long sleeve shirt that you like. Then, after that, you may need to include another insulating layer if it’s really cold. You can pick a couple of alternatives for this such as vests or lightweight jackets.

The colder it is the more layers youll need for horseback riding

In the event that the weather is extremely icy, a complete, thin lightweight coat could even be an option.

The Ariat Team Softshell Jacket is available in both mens and ladies’ sizes. This coat not only keeps you nice and warm but the external shell layer is both wind and waterproof. This means that if you end up removing your outer jacket you’ll still have protection against the chilly wind and any snow or rain.

Softshell coats are amazingly warm for how thin they are. In the event that the climate is milder, a vest offers added warmth where you want it most. In the cold, you can likewise pick a layering vest over your lightweight coat to help add more warmth to your body without including a lot of bulk on your arms.

Vests are great because they don’t restrict your arms

For ladies, the Irideon Quilted Vest is both water-resistant and breathable. I also love that for days at the barn (or on a ride, if you like), it even has an MP3 string loop for your headphones.

For men, the Outback Trading Co Sawbuck Vest gives reliable warmth with a heavy, 12oz water-resistant oilskin fabric. Obviously, if you need the highest quality in warm vests, the HyperKewl Techniche Iongear Battery Powered Heating Vest is the best choice, with its adjustable heat settings.

These vests aren’t just comfortable and help hold in body heat, but they also have many pockets so you can keep your mobile phone safe and store treats for your horse.

Don’t forget your feet!

Weighty socks are the next fundamental that you’ll need for winter barn work and riding.

Dont forget your feet when your horseback riding in the winter

Frostbitten toes are a genuine risk when the temperatures drop.

The Horseware Softie Socks are a fun selection for ladies. These socks are delicate and warm and come in cool colors. You may even want some to relax around in the house in too πŸ™‚

Another option is the Horze Clara Winter Socks. These are made with a Thermolite texture mix, offering warmth without bulk.

I would also recommend getting a pair of winter riding boots. These are great because they won’t be demolished in the mud or snow and they have better footing, which will help prevent you slipping on the ice and snow.

While leather is more conventional for riding boots, engineered materials are much less demanding to keep up and are generally less costly. The Mountain Horse Active Winter Riding Boot is available for both men and ladies, and features an unreal fleece (it’s so warm and comfy!) with water-resistant manufactured material.

horseback riding in the winter

In addition, I love the slimline shape of the boot. It will fit in your normal stirrups, and even has dirt-repellent treads that improve your grasp.

In most cases, your decision of what to wear in winter for yourself and your horse boils down to personal preference. But I hope you now have a better idea of what to wear horseback riding in winter, and what will work best for you and your equine accomplice. You’ll be certain to have more secure and pleasant rides all through the season!

If you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to throw them in below and I’ll get back to you!

Happy riding πŸ™‚


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6 thoughts on “What to Wear Horseback Riding in the Winter”

  1. I just moved to Michigan from Virginia in August. Virginia has very mild winters but Michigan can get bitter cold with lots of wet rain or hard snow that accumulates quickly and stays for weeks so these are great tips.

    I just wanted to comment because I was thinking – how do we know what the horses are thinking. I’m not that experienced with them and I get concerned sometimes if they’re too cold? Are they uncomfortable?

    Can you give me some tips on how to know when your horse is too cold? Do they give any signs?

    • I’ve never been to Michigan but I have heard that the weather can be quite frosty. And yes this is a great point! I didn’t mention anything about the point of view of the horses during my post so thank you for pointing this out.

      Horses can certainly get too cold and some types of horses will be more resilient than others to the low temperatures. Make sure that the breed you have is suitable to your climate. You don’t want an Arabian up in Alaska for instance. At the same time though, horses are generally quite resilient as long as you’re treating them properly.

      This means longer warmups on cold and wet days, longer cool downs and a really good grooming after you ride them. Make sure you also have a warm blanket for them in the barn and a turnout blanket for them when they go out in the pasture. If you’re living in a wet climate, check out my favorite waterproof blanket here. If the weather isn’t very cold; however, don’t use too heavy of a blanket as this will just make them sweaty and more prone to muscular stiffness.

      You can tell if your horse is too cold if they shiver (just like us!). Furthermore, if they’re walking stiffly that indicates their muscles are seized up.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Martina,

    Those sound like great layering options. I live in Alaska and grew up in the bush with a dog team. The need for layers is the same. A wicking underlayer is vital in really cold weather! Alaskans always layer!

    I haven’t been on a horse in a long time but I really enjoyed it when I was younger!


    • Hey Jessica,

      Yes! You’re absolutely right and I love dog sledding as well. I’m not in Alaska but used to go a lot in Northern Ontario and I know what you mean. It’s also easy to get sweaty during the day. And then you gotta make sure that you don’t keep those same layers on throughout the day.

      I do hope you get the opportunity to ride again at some point πŸ™‚

  3. Good tips on winter riding. My wife and I used to do lots of cold weather riding. Keeping your feet warm is the most difficult part I think. I never liked to ride in really big clunky boots, so that presented a problem. But your cold weather socks are just the ticket! We live by the mountains of Wyoming, so we’ve had the chance to ride in lots of snow. Once early spring we went up the mountain after a good spring snowfall, and were able to gallop across a big meadow covered with about a foot of fresh snow, without a track in it yet. It was so beautiful, I’ll never forget it. Thanks for your great article and advice.

    • Hey Jim!

      That sounds absolutely gorgeous – I hope that you and your wife are still able to keep up with riding! I agree. I normally find that once I’m on the horse I’m fine but grooming, tacking and especially untacking once I might already be sweaty can be freezing. Trail rides and leisure rides I also find that they aren’t too bad because you aren’t prone to sweating so as long as you’ve got great warm clothes and good socks – you’re fine. It’s when you’re doing dressage work and English work and you start to sweat that it can be a hassle and that’s when it’s so important to get those layers on.


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