In the past, I liked to look at winter through a window, preferably lounging on the sofa with a vodka soda and the fireplace lit. I rarely went outside. This is my second winter riding. Last year, I wasn't trail riding, just taking lessons in a heated arena. This year, I have been out in the snow 3 times. I love it! My friends can't believe how I have embraced winter. Now that I have experienced loping and galloping and falling in the snow (see Faster Than a Speeding Bullet), I am not as intimidated by the elements.
If I am going to continue riding outside, I will need some appropriate clothing! Our temperatures can range anywhere from -5 Celsius to -30 Celsius (today is -12C). I seem to be OK for the top half of my body, but I do have a down-filled jacket on order. Currently, I wear about 4 layers and a windbreaker, along with a neck cozy and head warmer on my helmet. I look square. Hands are fine, feet are fine - I have really good gloves and boots. For the bottom half of my body, I usually wear half chaps and winter weight breeches with tights underneath. I have discovered that it is not enough to give my legs the protection they need when we are out on the trails. Off I went to my local tack store, where I purchased a pair of winter riding pants that had a suede seat and inside seam. I tried them on with my riding boots when I got home and I couldn't move in them. I found them bulky and the inside seams would stick together and I couldn't walk properly. Darn those thunder thighs!! I started looking at other options.
Full chaps would have been the perfect solution given my unique body shape, but could not find any that weren't covered in fringe. STA swears by silk long johns and undershirts with a down-filled jacket, jeans and hot shots in her gloves and boots. She's 20 years younger than I am and her ensemble does not quite do it for me. LA wears winter weight coveralls....not a good look for me and would impede my frequent bathroom breaks.
A young lady at the stables recommended snow boarding pants. I have never even seen snow boarding, but I was interested in the pants. From the young ladies description, it sounded like a variation of skiing. I entered a sport store (there's a first time for everything!) and immediately felt intimidated. The sales clerks looked like they were 15 years of age and they were all in shape, which I guess is a good thing if you work in a sports store. A young man approached me.
Him: Can I help you?
Me: I need snow boarding pants.
Him: Sure, no problem. Do you know what size you are looking for.
Me: I am not sure what size I would be.
Him: They're for you??
Him: YOU snow board????
Me: No, I need them for horseback riding.
Him: For horseback riding?? YOU horseback ride????
When it comes to sports clothing, is it the designer's goal to make them look as unattractive as possible? I could see where someone who was a bad snow boarder would wear something like this. It would make is much easier for the paramedics to find you. Tempting, particularly because of my last trail ride experience. But, frankly I didn't think this was a good look for me and I didn't want to frighten Gem or my riding mates. ;-) In any case, there were no ladies pants in "big butt" size.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, I found a pair of men's pants that fit. Brand name is respected and there are a few zip pockets, waistband is adjustable with velcro inserts, plus an inside leg/lining that can fit inside your boot so the cold air doesn't go up your leg. The product description basically said that they are hermetically sealed, and although they do not have a down type of lining, they keep your body heat from escaping and are waterproof and windproof. You wear your regular long johns and breeches under them. They are not the most attractive looking item I have every worn, but the focus is on how comfortable, dry and warm I will be. When I tried them on, I could move around quite well and when I walked, my thunder thighs did not stick together. In fact, the pants made a swish swish noise that brought back wonderful memories of when I was a child wearing a snowsuit. :-) They needed to be hemmed, though.
A few days later, I walked in to the local alteration shop. I put the pants on with my boots and stood in front of the mirror. The seamstress stood beside me, armed with her pins.
Me: I need to have these pants hemmed, but I still need them long enough so that when my leg is bent like this, the bottom of the pants still cover my ankles.
Her: Your leg will be bent that high???
Her: These are snow boarding pants.
Her: YOU snow board????
Me: No. I need these pants for horseback riding.
Her: YOU ride a horse????
What was I thinking....?