BY INTERN ANNIE BIRMINGHAM
If you’re anything like me, you scroll through your Instagram feed at least once daily and feel some extreme envy for your fellow equestrians escaping this brutal winter at the warm southern show circuits. Then you snap back to reality, toss on your final jacket, hat, and pair of gloves, and run through the sub zero temperatures to get to the barn as quickly as you can. If you can relate, here are some tips on how to make the winter a bit more bearable for humans and horses alike!
For the Horse:
Heated Water Buckets
Never worry again if your horse’s water is frozen, and avoid the ordeal of breaking up ice from their stalls every morning! These SmartPak Flatback five gallon water buckets also eliminate the need for water heaters, which horses can play with and move the cord, risking burns and even fires.
If you’re still wary on the concept of leaving a heated bucket plugged in, check out SmartPak’s Insulated Bucket Covers. Simply velcro the cover around your horses water buckets. This cover will extend the amount of time it takes to form ice. While it isn’t guaranteed to keep buckets ice free in below-freezing temperatures, it certainly helps on chilly days and prevents thick ice buildup.
A cold bit on a cold day is any equestrian (and their horse’s!) worst nightmare. Save your hands and your horse’s mouth from a cold bit by using a bit warmer. Thousands of options are available online from places like Etsy and HorseLoverz.com. You can even choose from electric or microwavable options in an array of sizes, colors, and patterns.
A good blanket liner is key to warmth both in the barn and in turnout throughout the winter months. The Horseware Interchangeable Liner is a barn favorite here, as it easily attaches onto other blankets to help layer. It’s also available in two different weights to provide the perfect amount of warmth. Your horses will thank you!
Shoulder rubs often go hand in hand with winter blankets, and are never a fun problem to be dealing with. A Lycra Shoulder Guard fits snug over your horse’s shoulders and fastens at the neck and belly for easy on and off. You can even loop these through the horse’s first blanket layer to ensure that it will stay put to prevent rubs.
For the Rider:
Down Riding Jacket
A down riding jacket is a riding wardrobe staple during the winter months. They’re the perfect weight for layering on the truly cold days, but light enough that you won’t get too hot while riding. Some favorites are the Ariat Ideal Down Jacket (which has a matching vest available separately), and JOTT USA.
Winter Riding/Barn Gloves
Did you know that frostbite is most common on the fingers? It’s easy during long days at the barn to forget to cover up your hands, so make sure you always have a pair of warm gloves around! Glove brands such as SSG, Roeckl, and more offer an array of gloves for working, riding – plus some that are ideal for both.
There’s nothing worse than losing feeling in your toes when you’ve still got hours left at the barn. Winter Thermal and/or Skiing socks can be found in most local tack shops, or even your nearby Target or Wal-Mart. My favorites are the SmartWool Ski Socks, but there are hundreds of options available in various price ranges.
Winter Equestrian Festival Livestream
Ok, maybe it’s not a winter product… but it sure does make cold winter nights a whole lot more bearable! Saturday Night Lights classes are usually the most entertaining, but the show’s website often broadcasts day-to-day classes as well. If you can’t be in the warmth yourself, you may as well enjoy the competition from home!
I’ve found all of these products to be extremely helpful in surviving harsh winters for both horse and rider alike, and hope they can help you out too!