Always Have the Perfect Clothing!
Here in Northeast Ohio our weather can be unpredictable. Some years it seems we have a bitter cold deep freeze in the months of January and February. And other years (much like this year) we have had snow and cold one day and warmth and melting snow the next – which we all know means muddy pastures! This weather makes it hard to know the best clothing to keep you warm in the barn during winter months. I have a hard time investing in an ultra warm coat and heavy coveralls when the weather is so unpredictable.
The best answer I have found in a changing climate is layering clothing. The thing I like most about layering up is you can get the most use out of your barn clothing investment by being able to use it in many seasons not just winter. Here at Big Dee’s we have a company filled with animal lovers who are outside taking care of the horses and other pets 365 days a year, so I have been able to get a lot of great advice on everyone’s favorites not just mine.
Base Layer Options
The base layer is always one of the most important parts of staying warm. It’s a light weight way to keep your body heat in and have a soft comfortable fabric against your skin. One of the first things I hear when everyone talks about their favorite base layer would be Back On Track. The reason it’s so popular as a base layer is because it’s a soft thin fabric which makes it easy to wear under other clothing. The material Back on Track is made of is also moisture wicking and the ceramic in the product reflects your own body heat creating warmth (and as a side benefit it helps to reduce pain and inflammation). Back on Track offers T-Shirts, long underwear, leggings, thin gloves (great as glove liners) socks, neck covers, and even boxer shorts – all make great warm first layer option.
Other options to help keep you warm are to layer with pull on riding tights and sun shirts. Sun Shirts and riding tights are a great way to keep cool in the summer but they also make a great base layer in the winter. One of my favorite sun shirts is by Kastel Denmark. It’s a soft light weight fabric that breathes and gives a great range of options for UPF protection in the summer and warmth in the winter. Ariat and Arista both make a beautiful Merino Wool quarter zips that will keep you so warm! Kerrits and several other brands make great quarter zips that are lined with fleece for extra warmth.
Utilize Any Season Clothing
So now that you have a lot of base layer options we can move on to what to wear over it. For bottoms it really depends on what you are doing. Are you riding, working in the barn or both? For the top layer, consider the temperature and all of the great outerwear layers that are made for winter. If you are riding English you may want to choose a pair of warm Irideon Windpro three season breeches. You could also try a Soft Shell riding Breech like the new style from Noble Outfitters. If you are doing barn work or riding western you may choose your favorite pair of jeans, chaps or coveralls.
Next up is your torso! Soft shell is a term we hear often and it might be one of the best outerwear materials ever invented! You can find soft shell in pullovers as well as zip style jackets. The great thing about soft shell is that the fabric has fleece on the inside. The exterior is smooth, with water and dirt resistance from the elements. It is super warm while being light weight and flexible. This style jacket paired with a vest makes a great outerwear layer, especially when riding. If you start to get a little warm peel off that vest and keep on going! You can always put it back on when you start to cool down. If you’re not a fan of vests there are great jacket options that are also light weight and flexible.
Keep Your Feet Warm & Dry
Now that we have covered the core portion of keeping the body warm let’s talk about those parts that get cold first! For me it’s always feet, ears, and hand. I have found the best way to keep your feet warm is to start with a good pair of socks and end with a great pair of boots. One of my all time favorite socks is made by Noble Outfitters. They are comfortable, well padded and they make great options for winter. You have the option of thermo thin or merino wool.
Moving on to boots, if you are working in the barn I highly recommend the Noble Outfitters Cold Front Muds Boots – they are warm and comfortable. A great option for people who ride in the winter are Mountain Horse Active Rider Tall Boot. They are warm and have a stirrup friendly sole. If you prefer a paddock boot, I really like the Ariat Extreme H2O Insulated paddock boot. It gives the look of a traditional paddock boot while staying functional for winter. Another great option that seems to be a little secret in the Standardbred Racing crowd are the Double H Insulated leather boots.
Don’t Forget Head & Hand Protection
A good ear band goes a long way to keep your ears warm in the winter. I have heard many people who wear a helmet say they don’t like an ear bands. While many are made slim and go nicely under helmets, if you are not a fan my answer to you is Sprigs Earbags! The Earbags are two layers of fleece with Thinsulate lining and no band to interfere with your helmet. You just pop them over your ears and go. If you want to listen to your music while working in the barn, try out Sprigs Soundears!
Let’s not forget about the endless possibilities for gloves! My all time favorite pair of gloves are the Polartec Warwick Winter Riding Gloves by Roeckl. They are soft, comfortable and flexible – you will want a pair for the barn and a pair for everyday use! If you have a need for a tougher glove with a rugged exterior try the SSG Ten Below. Many enthusiasts at Big Dee’s use and recommend this glove. The SSG Ten Below is really warm due to the Thinsulate lining. It also has a great grippy palm, but the most impressive feature is that it’s waterproof. I don’t mean if you are in a rainstorm your hands won’t get wet waterproof, I mean you can submerge your hand in a water bucket to right below the cuff and not feel a drip of water!
Finally if you love to use those handy hand and toe warmers for a little boost of warmth, the Heritage Extreme Winter Gloves are for you. There is a pocket on the top of the glove where you can place the hand warmer and zip it up. This positioning keeps it comfortable and on top of the artery that brings warm blood flow to your hands.
Hopefully these tips and insights into winter clothing can help you choose the best products for you!