Saturday, January 9, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside....

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??
Me: Yes.
Him: YOU snow board????
Me: No, I need them for horseback riding.
Him: For horseback riding?? YOU horseback ride????
Me: sigh

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???
Me: Yes.
Her: These are snow boarding pants.
Me: Correct.
Her: YOU snow board????
Me: No. I need these pants for horseback riding.
Her: YOU ride a horse????


What was I thinking....?


  1. Hi Wolfie!

    You know if you buy full chaps with fringes, you can just cut the fringes off!
    You might find them more comfortable to ride in than the snow boarding pants because pants often starts to creep up towards your knee when riding.
    In the end you will have folds making a large bulk around the knee.
    It is uncomfortable and a bit difficult to sort out from the saddle.

    Thermo pants for riding normally has a ....uh, what's it called in English again? - elastic band? that enables you to secure the pants under your feet, thus avoiding the problem.
    I suppose it is possible to sew elastic bands on your purchased pants if you experience trouble.

    If you look at the thermo pants from Mountain Horse, you can see what I mean. The pants also has a synthetic suede seat to get a better grip than you would have with standard thermo trousers.
    Look here:

  2. Hello HorseOfCourse!! I appreciate you sharing your experience and the sites. Thank you! It never even occurred to me to cut the fringes off! I will take another look at the full chaps. Thanks for the "creeping up" info, though. You're right, thermo riding pants do have a strap to go under your boots. I may have to visit my seamstress again and have some added to my snow boarding pants while I try to find my full chaps. Keep warm!!!

  3. I'm sitting here laughing my head off,you're very funny. I especially like your *sighs*, because I know how you feel. I get it all the ride at your age! *sigh*

    The full chaps are good and your tack shop should be able to do a custom pair if they have that service.

    There is also a site you might want to check out:
    this company makes custom pants to your measurements and they send them to you within days. I did a post on it a while back if you need more info. Anyway, I've got two pair, one regular pair for my birthday and one winter pair for Christmas. They fit great and the only down side is that they are sort of expensive. But they're worth it, I figure the money I save on chaps, regular riding boots etc... saves some money and makes them worth it. Another thing I like is that if you lose weight or don't like something about them they will take them back and fix them for you. Just a thought for another alternative to driving yourself nuts looking for warm riding pants.

    Good luck with your snow pants!

  4. Hello GHM! I will definitely check out equissentials. Thanks! I don't mind spending money if the product actually fits! Do your chaps keep you warm? I have seen "schooling chaps" and "shot gun chaps". Which do you prefer? The pants that HorseOfCourse pointed out may be an option too.

    I will be giving my new snow pants a test run out on the trails tomorrow hopefully.... although right now the temperature is -21C. Yikes!!

  5. I haven't worn chaps in years, but when I did wear them they keep the wind out and the wet out for the most part and are good to protect your legs from snags on trees or bushes. I prefer these pants I got from the equissentials co.because they just slip on and I only have to wear my paddock boots with them. The less stuff to get dressed with the better for me. Wait did that sound right? Well, I mean I like to keep it simple.

  6. I think the snowboarding pants are a great idea. They're wind repellent, insulated, and you can move in them.

    Wear what works, you're not riding in a fashion show. Unless you are, in which case please post pictures because I'd like to see that.

  7. Try getting yourself a set of Hot Chilly's long underwear. I wear these under winter weight breeches and even in freezing temperatures they keep my legs warm, and I am always cold!

  8. I was out on the trails today in -12C weather. My snow boarding pants were OK! I wore tights and jeans under them...I met a friend for a pint after riding and it was great to be able to peel the outer layer of clothing off and continue on to the pub!

    HorseOfCourse - my pants did not ride up, but the test will be on Tuesday during lesson.

    smazourek - the pants were very comfortable and it was easy mounting and dismounting. I will post pictures soon of my current fashion statement. :-)

    Marissa - thank you for the Hot Chilly's site. Do you have any particular model of long underwear that you favour?

    Keep warm everyone!!

  9. Oh my you had me in stitches over here.

    I'm a wimp about the could and admire your tenacity in dealing with the cold. Of course we don't have snow when it's cold.

    I just checked out that mountain horse site - girl they have a sale going on!

    I love to shop online. No looks incredulous at me. :)