Keeping my horses at home means I’m the only person responsible for their care. Most of the time, it’s enjoyable and rewarding. But in the midst of winter, when the wind is howling and temperatures are cold, it’s awfully tempting to sell the farm, move to a house in a hip part of town, and let someone else brave the elements!
I’ve amassed a collection of cold-appropriate gear that’s seen me through several winters. I reach for these items almost every time I leave the house and head out to do barn chores- they’re my winter weather uniform!
Lands’ End Squall Jacket: I bought this jacket when I was working as the barn manager at a therapeutic riding center, way back in 2011. At the time, I spent most of my day in the barn or outside, moving horses around, cleaning stalls and paddocks, and grooming and tacking up horses. This jacket is windproof, waterproof, and warm. The hood is large enough to comfortably stay up, and it’s detachable if you’d rather not wear it. The sleeves feature adjustable Velcro cuffs, so you can cinch them down over your gloves to keep the chill out. The zippered pockets are large enough for several treats or a cell phone. My jacket was purchased in December 2011, so it just turned six years old. It’s held up very well- I’ve had no problems with the zippers, the Velcro closures, snaps, and the material is still waterproof. The price on this jacket is extremely reasonable; I highly recommend it for a good, all-purpose barn coat!
Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms: You know that line in the song “Oklahoma” that says, “OOOOk-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain”? It’s true! The wind regularly blows upwards of 15 miles per hour, meaning summer feels like living in a hair dryer and winter gives new meaning to the phrase “polar vortex”. I settled on this Patagonia baselayer after trying a couple of other brands. They do a good job of blocking the wind and keeping me warm. I’ve got a pair for 2012 still going strong and added another pair in 2015.
SSG 10 Below Gloves: Waterproof, windproof, and warm, these are my go-to gloves for barn chores. I can completely submerge my hand into the horses’ water tank and remove ice while staying warm and dry. They’re a little bulky, but I have enough mobility to buckle blankets and unsnap gates without a problem.
Sperry Saltwater Duck Boots with Thinsulate: As much as I’d love to have a stylish pair of Dubarry boots, my calves are too big and my bank account is too empty. When I bought these last winter, I was looking for something easy to get on and off that was waterproof and warm. These short boots fit the bill perfectly! I like that there’s no fussing with laces- I can slip them on and off quickly. They’re short enough that it doesn’t matter how thick my baselayer and pants are. They’re warm and comfortable, and offer good traction in wet or muddy conditions. They’re reasonably stylish, too, and I often wear them while running errands in cold weather.
Earflap hat: Unless it’s raining, I prefer a hat to a hood. My extensive collection of baseball caps doesn’t cut it in the winter, though. I reach for my silly-looking knitted hat with ear flaps every time I go out the door. I have one that’s similar to the one linked (right down to the snowflake design). It features a fleece lining that isn’t itchy, and the ear flaps keep me feeling warm and cozy. Do I look ridiculous? Probably. Do I care? Not at all.
Buff Band: Perhaps the single most versatile piece of clothing I own, the Buff Band is something I wear in all seasons. In the winter, it serves as a neck gaiter with all the benefits of a scarf without the bulk. When the wind is really blowing and the temperatures are really low, I pull it up over my nose and mouth. It makes breathing icy air a little more bearable!
Since Oklahoma’s winters are fairly mild compared to the rest of the country, I’m sure many of you have a different set of barn gear for cold conditions. Is there something you use all the time? I’d love to hear about it!