Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Go away, Jack Frost

I'm not a big fan of the cold.  Sure, I'm from Minnesota, but I'm still a weenie.  As I stood in the pouring rain with mi papi, hunched down under my rain coat and him under his rain sheet, I considered how dumb my hobby is.  Sure, we were heading into the indoor, but I still had to slop through the icy mud to retrieve my muddy pony.  Then we slogged down to the indoor and slogged back up while the sky dumped buckets on us.  At least it's not the ice from this morning, that was exciting while feeding the poultry.  I need to get the chains back on the tractor tires.

Pretty sure hubby was watching from the window with his coffee, laughing his butt off, as I slid across the driveway.

No Stirrups November is bad enough without getting chills.  Fortunately I've got a routine that keeps me from completely freezing.  Today's topic:  How I survive winter.

Step one:  Base layers.  Base layers are everything wonderful and beautiful.  If I have the right thermals on, I can make it through anything.  I learned this when working in a barn through a New England winter.  Stomping through a blizzard to toss extra blankets on school horses really puts your gear to the test.  My brand of choice?  Duofold.

This one, right here, is a life saver.  I have some mid weight for slightly chilly days, heavy weight for this time of year when it's 30's while I'm riding, and the expedition weight for the dead of winter.  The pants fit under my breeches, I just wear my socks over top of them so they don't ride up while putting my breeches on.  I don't have winter breeches, I use the same old Piper full seats year round.  I just put different thermal underwear on as the seasons change.  My Duofolds have held up for years with heavy use, I've shed down to my thermal top on several occasions and no one noticed.  Looks like a nice, fitted top.  I have found nothing better at the price point.

Step two:  Down.  I didn't want to bother with buying down until I got my first down vest.  It really, really does make a difference.  I have a couple down vests now.  EMS is my usual source, since I get my hiking gear from them, but I spy a down vest from Ariat at Smartpak.  A thermal top, a flannel button down shirt, and a warm vest will have me riding while showing my position to my trainer through most of the winter.  I'll still need a jacket when it's 10* out, but at those temps, my trainer is too busy shivering and hating her life to care if she can see my back clearly.  I wear a jacket to the ring, but dump it once we're warmed up and ready to work. 

Step three:  Silk and wool socks.  Wool socks alone will help a lot, but with a silk liner?  Toasty warm!  I don't always have winter boots.  Okay, I usually don't have winter boots for riding.  Bulky boots make me uncomfortable, I'm scared I'll get stuck in a stirrup.  Layering up my socks can keep me from freezing in my usual boots.  I always struggle to find silk liners in women's sizes, so that might be a challenge. 

Also, look for reflective inserts for your boots.  Makes a world of difference when walking around on the frozen ground.  You don't feel the cold seeping in through the soles of your boots.  I get mine at Tractor Supply for cheap.

The one thing that I haven't figured out?  Barn gloves for winter.  Any recommendations?  My fingers are always cold and they ache.  I had some insulated gloves, but a bit of snow and they're wet and worthless.  Next week is showing snow so the situation is becoming dire!

Theo tries to kick me when I stuff my ice cold hands under his blankets.  Can't say I blame him.


  1. The best luck I have had with glove are the super cheap walmart ones that are really thin and then layering a quality pair of leather gloves over them. That is how I rode in blizzards when I was in high school.

  2. Silk sock liners in women's sizes: https://www.rei.com/product/627663/rei-silk-one-liner-socks

    When I rode, I struggled a lot to keep my hands and feet warm enough. Finally broke down and got insulated riding boots and Back on Track gloves. Game changers both! I also had a great pair of Mountain Horse mittens that were too bulky to school in but worked great for hacking (and then White Mountsin winter hiking after I leased out my horse).

  3. My hubby swears by his silk glove liners when he's skiing or mountain biking in the winter. Maybe some others will have good glove recommendations and pair those with liners?

  4. I have a simple pair of fingerless gloves that serve as a "base layer" for my hands. Esp since I always end up taking off the gloves for random chores here and there, it helps ensure that my hands always have some degree of protection. The outer layer gloves really depends on what I'm doing tho. Heavy fleece lined leather workmans gloves for chores, but lighter weight riding gloves for riding bc I can't stand a lot of bulk.

    1. I have these. https://www.amazon.com/Volyer-Cashmere-Fingerless-Christmas-Girlfriend/dp/B00OXN6UKE

  5. http://wintersilks.blair.com/p/unisex-mid-calf-sock-liners-in-washable-silk/8901.uts

    I dont wear sock liners, but am happy with Winter Silks in general. I wear their thermal tnecks & pants all winter. In the South. I get cold. I went to school in NH. It was not pretty.