When Jack Frost comes nipping at your nose, and your toes, and the rest of you this winter, throw open your closet doors and bring forth your arsenal of smart high-tech riding apparel to keep that crafty old guy at bay. As horseback riding continues to be perceived by “outsiders” as a serious performance sport, so too does our attire gain sophistication in fabrics, insulation, and treatments as designers apply state-of-the-art creativity and science that already pervades other sporting lines. Hey, isn’t it about time?
Cyclists, hikers, skiers and runners all know that just because you plan to participate in your sport on a given day doesn’t mean the weather will be your ally. Your armor must be made of stuff that deflects the blasting wind and provides insulation to keep you warm—without encumbering your movement. It should attract or wick troublesome moisture off your skin while preventing it from penetrating through your clothing to your body. Sound like an impossible list of wants? No way, says catalog buyer Amy Hamlet of Dover Saddlery, Inc.—and she oughta know.
So Many Choices
Hamlet’s job is to identify the very best brands and price points for Dover’s audience, with its exceptionally wide range of customer preferences and budgets. About climate: It obviously differs, too, whether we ride outside in extreme cold, inside where it’s also cold, or in warmer weather, where we’re so spoiled by higher temperatures that anything below 70 degrees gives us a chill.
Appropriately, we’ll start with Dover’s own Riding Sport private label, with nifty technical fabrics and riders’ amenities at a lower price point. Our main category will be breeches, for you know what they say: “No legs, no rider.”
Choose the Riding Sport “Best Buy” Power Stretch Tights with Polartec’s revolutionary Polar Fleece; the tights’ outer layer resists abrasion and barn debris, a soft inner layer cuddles you, and the item has a drawcord waist and gripper elastic at ankles. Another winner is Riding Sport’s Stretch (baby) Corduroy Full-Seat Breech, a traditional style with a soft touch.
Hamlet likes Devon-Aire’s “true winter” breeches in Polarfleece, with zipper front, belt loops, and the Power Stretch feature in both full seat and knee patch styles. “Everyone else seems to do the pull-on styles,” she says.
Moving slightly up in price, consider the popular TuffRider brand of distributor JPC Equestrian Inc., where company vice president Nina DePetris shares her favorite choice among her company’s immense inventory of products. “My favorite item is our Cyclone Jacket. I have both colors—Blue Ribbon and Chocolate—and even if I did not work here, I would pay retail for it! It is lightweight yet warm, perfect for in the saddle or street wear,” she says.
Cyclone is a waterproof and breathable ladies' active riding jacket. It comes with a stretch balaclava (which covers the head, allowing your face to peek out) storm skirt, internal knitted cuffs, hand warmer pockets and hood within the fleece-lined collar. It also features reflective piping, welded seams and waterproof zippers on the pockets, for the ultimate in protection from the elements.