As the the cold weather is fast approaching us all, or already here for some of us, it is time to bundle up and try to stay warm. I compiled a list of my winter essentials to stay warm and cozy while braving the frigid conditions.
Layers. Onions and ogres have layers. Equestrians need to wear layers. And the first of those layers needs to be one of two options; the Under Armour Women’s UA ColdGear® Long Sleeve Compression Mock or the Columbia Women’s Omni-Heat™ Midweight II Long Sleeve Top. Under Armour had always been my go-to baselayer in the winter until I discovered the Omni-Heat line from Columbia. While the Under Armour shirt keeps you warm and wicks away your sweat, it holds the moisture in the fabric so if you don’t add something over it after a sweaty ride you can get a little chilly. The Columbia shirt has heat reflective dots that reflect your heat back to you (duh.) and keep you super toasty without leaving you all cold and sweaty afterwards. I switch it up between the two all season and will sometimes layer them together.
My layer number two is usually some sort of sweater or sweatshirt. If it is a sweater, it is probably a Ralph Lauren Cableknit Sweater. I love the classic look of a cableknit sweater, plus they are thick and über-warm without being too bulky, and you can wear them outside of the barn too! (Hint: these are all over the place at Marshalls and TJMaxx, who said you had to pay full price?) Looking for a cheaper option? Old Navy’s sweaters are just as warm and fashionable and half the price. If I am not trying to look like I tried really hard to look good just to go ride my horse who doesn’t care what I wear, I will throw on a quarter-zip sweatshirt on over whatever baselayer I chose that day. Not as cute, but still warm and functional. And if you are monogram obsessed like I am, why not wear a monogrammed 1/4 zip like this one?
Layer number three consists of choosing between a vest or a jacket. My vest of choice (and probably the only one I ever wear) is The North Face Aconcagua Vest. It keeps your core nice and toasty without making you feel like a marshmallow, and vests are always cute. I am super picky about what jacket I ride in because I hate the feeling of not being able to move. I am not the abominable snowman and I do not want to feel like one when I am riding. I have a jacket very similar to the SmartPak Winter Jacket and it is perfect for winter riding.
As for helping your lower body resemble an onion, I always go for a good pair of leggings to wear under my favorite breeches. I hate the bulkiness (sensing a theme here?) of winter or fleece-lined riding breeches, so I wear my normal breeches over a pair of cold-weather leggings or just plain old-fashioned ones. I do have one pair of breeches that are slightly thicker than my traditional TS Trophy Hunters, and those are the SmartPak Piper Breeches. They aren’t winter-riding-breeches thick, but they have just enough fabric to keep me a little warmer on the extra-chilly days.
The one thing I do want to be bulky is my scarf, that way I can burrow myself into it when I am cold. I recently received this blanket scarf as a gift and I am obsessed with how soft and cozy it is. Trust me, you need one, whether you ride in it or not.
My next essential is something that I don’t actually own, but I wish I did, and they are touchscreen friendly gloves. Why? So you can use your cellular device without exposing your hands to frigid temperatures, of course! My normal crochet-backed gloves aren’t touchscreen-friendly and they actually work with my phone so it sort of works out, but if I had my choice I would go with the SSG Grand Prix Cell Mate Gloves which are specially designed to work with smartphones.
As for my keeping my horse extra warm in the winter, I make sure to always ride in a quarter sheet if it is 35 degrees or colder. I have the Rambo Newmarket Fleece Quarter Sheet and I love it. The stripes are super cute, it has a cut away for my leg which is super helpful when you are riding a lazy horse, it keeps Ax toasty during our rides, and if he gets too warm it is super easy to take off without having to dismount.
What about after your ride? I make sure to have my favorite lip balm in my pocket, the Burt’s Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm, because nobody wants cracked lips after a cold barn day. And I love a hot cup of tea when I get home.
What are your winter essentials?