Editor's note: We have created a series of articles for StableManagement.com on products for horses and their humans. We hope you enjoy these tips and insights into items that we use, need and want for ourselves and our horses.
It’s no fun shivering through chores or a riding lesson. There’s only so many layers you can add before looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Not only does wearing too many uncomfortable layers create a comical look, it limits mobility, making it tough to mount up or bend over to pick a hoof. Clothing that’s warm and not bulky is the first step to being comfortable all winter long.
“I love the Mountain Horse jackets,” said Karlene Bulson, an ambulatory assistant at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Saratoga, New York. “SmartPak and Ariat make good ones also.”
For Bulson, foaling season is the most difficult for staying warm. She and the attending veterinarians often stand still for long periods of time running medications to foals. Although she hasn’t tried a heated vest or jacket, she says it’s on her bucket list.
Heated clothing has become popular in recent years. But be aware that not all products are made the same. Like unheated jackets and vests, battery-heated clothes are available in a variety of fabrics from soft shell to down filled. Prices range from around $80 to $200+.
When comparing brands, review which areas of the clothing have heating coils. Some only cover the back or shoulders, others include multiple units and cover the stomach area. Also, look for the size and type of battery pack. Smaller battery packs will be lighter and less cumbersome. For example, a Milwaukee product uses a 12-volt battery, Action Heat uses a 5-volt battery, and Oro uses a 7.5-volt battery.
Personal preference is the deciding factor when it comes to choosing between a heated jacket or a vest. However, the more times a heated item is washed, the quicker the electrical components fail. Opting for a vest, which can be kept clean longer by being worn under a top layer, might offer the best return on an investment.
Heated Gloves and Mittens
It is hard to keep fingers and hands warm while you are outside working with your horses and doing chores, but there are heated gloves and mittens ready to keep your digits frost-free.
TheWarmingStore.com features battery-heated gloves and mittens from several manufacturers. They offer guides and tips for finding the right products for what you are looking to do outside.
For gloves and mittens, there are many choices from low-end to high-end materials, heating quality and battery life. First, determine if you just want to heat your hand, or if you want the heat to run all the way down to your fingers. Then decide how long you will be outside and what type of work you will be doing. Those decisions will help you select the right heated gloves or mittens for your situations.
Heated Socks and Insoles
No one likes cold feet. Horse folks often have water-proof rubber boots, which even when insulated might not ward off cold toes if you are out in extreme temperatures or for long periods of time.
Good products aren't cheap, but if a battery-heated sock can keep a skier's feet warm all day, think of what they could do while you are riding or doing chores in winter!
Battery-heated socks on TheWarmingStore.com can range from $85-$280. Heated insoles also come in a variety of styles.
Simple heating elements for your boots can start at $35 and go up to over $200 for the entire insole kit.
You can find the company's heated footwear guide here.
And for those who don't want to spend a lot on reusable heated products, you can always purchase the air-activated hand or foot heating packets.
Sportsmansguide.com offers these disposable warming products for hands or feet. Each of these packets can last for up to seven hours, and they are advertised as being made of "non-toxic, environmentally friendly and odorless iron, water, cellulose, vermiculite, activated carbon and salt."
Make sure to read the instructions carefully and use the correct product for your needs.