Cold Weather Riding Tips

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Just because temperatures have dropped doesn’t mean you and your horse have to take the whole winter off! With the help of a few strategic pieces of equipment and a little creativity, you can spend plenty of time in the saddle this winter.

For The Rider
Layering is the key to comfort during winter rides. You’ll be able to remove clothing as your body warms up and put layers on as your ride winds down. There are three basic layers for winter workouts:

  1. The Base Layer: This layer includes undergarments, socks, and the tops and bottoms closest to your skin. Moisture wicking fabrics are ideal for the base layer- they’ll pull moisture away from the skin, preventing you from getting chilled when you sweat. The Knix seamless high rise panty, Bambootz socks, and Mountain Horse Vibe tech top are great choices for base layer pieces.
  2. The Insulating Layer: This middle layer helps trap warm air, which is key on super cold days. Fleece and wool are great insulating materials; choose garments that feature these fabrics, like Kerrits’ Hex Fleece half zip top or Horze’s Evonne softshell breeches.
  3. The Protective Layer: If you live in a relatively mild area, you may not need a protective layer! For riders in areas where wind, rain, and snow are part of the winter season, the protective layer is made from waterproof or water-resistant material like nylon. Jackets like the Irideon Polaris insulated coat will make winter riding warm and comfortable!

It’s also important to remember to stay warm while you’re tacking up, doing barn chores, or otherwise off the horse! Most body heat is lost through your head, so be sure to put on a hat or headband. Add a pair of winter gloves, and you’ll be all set!

For The Horse
It’s important not to cut your grooming routine short in the winter. Currying and brushing will help loosen dead hair and skin cells, which will make your horse’s coat more efficient at keeping him warm. If your horse is clipped, make sure you’re using an appropriate blanket for him.

Since warm muscles are less likely to be injured, plan to spend some extra time warming your horse up for your ride. You may also consider using an exercise sheet like TuffRider’s ThermoManager to keep your horse warm throughout your ride.

Monitor your horse’s condition while you ride; if your horse becomes sweaty, his hair will mat down and be slow to dry. You can use a cooler to help wick away the moisture and keep your horse warm while he dries, but you may want to avoid getting your horse sweaty at all, especially if he is unclipped.

Finally, ice and snow can make for treacherous footing during the winter! Snow or ice can sometimes ball up in a horse’s hooves; if you plan to ride on snow often, your farrier may be able to use pads to prevent the formation of snowballs. Frozen ground is often hard and more strenuous on your horse’s legs. Be careful while riding and be prepared to cut your ride short if you encounter unsafe conditions.

For Tack
Metal bits can become very cold during the winter! Warm your horse’s bit by running it under warm water or holding it against your skin for a few minutes to take the edge off before putting it in your horse’s mouth.

Leather can require extra conditioning during the winter. Just as your skin can become chapped from cold, leather can, too! Consider cleaning and conditioning your tack more often during cold months.

With a little extra preparation, winter riding can be enjoyable for both horse and rider!

Top Dressage Trends For 2016

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While basic dressage attire is firmly rooted in tradition, that doesn’t mean riders can’t have fun with schooling and show apparel!

Technical fabrics continue to be very popular for short coats and shadbellies alike. They’re lightweight, breathable, and allow for great freedom of movement. Our best-selling dressage coats from Grand Prix  are available in jersey and TechLite fabrics; the jersey is our top choice for a show coat. It’s light and stretchy, but offers just enough structure to smooth out any lumps or bumps. Grand Prix’s TechLite fabric is even lighter and provides maximum flexibility and stretch. The best part about technical fabrics? They’re machine washable!

Colors are here to stay! While black coats will never go out of style, subtly colored jackets and tailcoats are catching on with amateurs and professionals alike! Navy and charcoal gray are excellent options for those interested in branching out, while dark green and deep brown fit USEF’s requirement for “conservative” colors but offer more excitement. Shirts may be any color, so you should have fun with your show shirt! This hot pink La Valencio shirt is one of our favorites; you’ll look stylish and bright walking around the show grounds after your test.

Bling is still hot, but don’t overdo it! There are many opportunities to add a touch of sparkle to your show ensemble. Stay conservative and choose only two or three places to add embellishments. For example, choose a beautiful crystal browband like this one from Waldhausen for your horse and a subtly sparkly helmet, like the One K Defender with Swarovski crystals for yourself. Bling should enhance your and your horse’s beauty and elegance, not detract from your performance.

Ergonomic bridles are trending right now; riders have realized they don’t have to sacrifice style for their horses to be comfortable! Features to look for include padded cavesson and crownpiece, a monocrown design, and ear cutouts or a shaped crown. We especially love the Passier Icarus double bridle  and the Red Barn Capriole snaffle bridle.

We’re here for you any time! Call us toll free at 1-888-49HORSE or email us to get advice on the latest in dressage tack and apparel.

The Horse of Course Dressage Trailer Schedule

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The Horse of Course’s dressage trailer team is settled into their Florida location for the season! The trailer is open 9:30 AM-5 PM Tuesday-Sunday through mid-April. The Horse of Course dressage trailer is located on the grounds of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at The Stadium PBIEC (13500 South Shore Blvd., Wellington, FL 33414).

Here’s a schedule of the events where you’ll find the trailer:

JANUARY
5-9 Robert Dover Horsemastership Week
7-10 AGDF Para Dressage CDI
13-17 AGDF 1 CDI
21-24 AGDF Para Dressage CDI
27-31 AGDF 3 CDI

FEBRUARY
6-7 AGDF 4 National Show
10-14 AGDF 5 CDI
20-21 AGDF 6 National Show
24-28 AGDF 7 CDI

MARCH
2-6 AGDF 8 CDI
12-13 AGDF 9 National Show
16-20 AGDF 10 CDI
29-4/2 AGDF 12 CDIO

APRIL
1-2 AGDF 12 CDIO

You can find a complete selection of dressage tack and apparel at The Horse of Course! We carry Pikeur, Konig, Grand Prix, Kentucky, Neue Schule, Montar, La Valencio, Sommer, Schockemohle, USG, and many, many more top brands. Our master saddler Marty Haist is also available for tack repair and saddle fittings! To set up an appointment or to get more information, email The Horse of Course founder & CEO Beth Haist at beth (at) thehorseofcourse (dot) com!