Monday, November 22, 2010

The Search for Thermal Riding Gloves

I am not a gloves person. At all. I greatly dislike having anything on my hands ever. I feel similarly about socks and shoes, but I've mostly managed to get past that by understanding the necessity for footwear in many instances. Such as the barn, where being barefoot just isn't a good idea for a lot of reasons. Gloves have never held that "necessity" place in my head, so I have continued to avoid them except in two circumstances.

A) Skiing. I grew up skiing with my family, and mittens were a very important part of your gear. I hated having to take them on and off any time I wanted to actually DO anything though. Like take a drink from my water bottle, zip my coat back up (because the stupid double zipper likes to work its way undone!) or even flip my pass around so the lift attendant can see it clearly. In this case, they were a begrudged necessity because of the cold.

B) Riding. I had an Off the Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) that I did some lower level eventing on in high school. He was a fabulously athletic horse that pulled like a freight train and taught me the value of wearing gloves and investing in decent quality gloves. I'd go through a pair of cheap gloves every couple weeks until my trainer introduced me to her favorite crochet back gloves with pig-skin palms.

I loved the way these gloves felt. They were thick enough to protect my hands from my reins, but I could still feel my horse's mouth (of steel) through them. The crochet back was enough to keep a little winter chill off when I lived in Oregon and breathable enough not to suffocate my poor hands during the summer. I've gone through several pairs over the years and they are still by far my favorite gloves ever. I didn't think I'd ever have need to own anything else.

Until I moved to North Dakota.

Winter has finally really hit and we're experiencing our first sub-zero temperatures for the year. Overall, I think I'm adjusting pretty well with my bundling and layering of clothing. I'm still working on remembering to go out and start my car a while before I have to leave, but I think I'm going to learn that lesson quickly enough thanks to iced over windshields. I've still been avoiding gloves because I can just shove my hands in my pockets and they're fine. Simple fix.

I went out to ride after work today and was perfectly fine while getting Indigo groomed and tacked up in the heated barn aisle. The arena, however, is not heated, since there is no water to worry about freezing in there. I pulled on my crochet back gloves and headed out to ride once I had her tacked up and ready. (I still can't wear gloves while grooming and tacking. Even lovely, fine, dexterous ones I can't manage the buckles on my bridle with them on!)

I rode for 10 minutes today. Thankfully, Indigo was being an angel, so I felt justified in cutting our work short. The main reason though, was that my hands were absolutely throbbing with pain from the cold. I couldn't believe it. I could hardly grip the reins while I was riding, and had to open the door back into the barn with my shoulder. Apparently, if I'm going to try to keep up with this "training through the winter" thing, I was going to need some thermal riding gloves. Because as fantastic as she was today, we're not going to get much done if we can only ride 10 minutes a day.

I considered coming home and quizzing some people I know who are from colder climes about the best and most affordable glove choices, but I decided that that would end up taking too long between waiting on replies and then placing the order (because I'm 90% sure that none of the stores around here would carry them). So I ran by a local sporting goods store on my way home and picked up some gloves. Because Indigo is so light and sensitive in the bridle, I'm hoping that these will hold up even though they're not "riding gloves" and are not reinforced where the reins sit. They are thin, warm, and have little grippies on the palm though. Tomorrow will be their test run. Wish me luck!

If you do have any recommendations on gloves or other cold-weather riding gear, leave a not in the comments. I'm always looking for ideas on how to keep my horse and I comfortable!

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