How can I make barn chores easier in the cold weather?
There’s nothing like moving from a tropical paradise to the North East to teach you how to deal with winter at the barn. While I’m technically newish to this winter thing, I have learned a little bit about how I can stay warm at the barn to get chores and riding done comfortably.
What to wear:
- Of course layers, but be smart about it. The old hiking term is “cotton kills”. Seems a bit severe, but cotton will not do anything to get rid of damp except hold it against you like an grudge. High tech wicking fabrics are the best.
Cover everyone's ears in the cold!
- I love my silk liners, they are warm and sleek and super thin. Silk sock liners are great, too. You also can’t go wrong with wool stuff, just don’t put it in the washer or dryer.
- Groom with gloves on after you have done your full body check with your hands. Your fingers will stay dry, and your mani clean.
- Unleash your inner dork and wear a hat. Like seriously. Under a riding helmet you can easily fit a wool ear cover. I can’t help you at all with what to do with your hair in either scenario.
- Make sure your outer layer is waterproof if wet things from the sky are forecast. A three part jacket with removable liner is always a good idea for layers and a waterproof shell.
- Find lined breeches. And find lined boots. Yes, they exist, and yes, they are worth every last penny.
What to do:
- Eat more! Fill yourself with calories to generate heat. You also might be burning more as you do chores with all of those layers on.
- Have hot water around. For warming bits, warm wash cloths to wipe eyes, noses, ears and hot cocoa. I like an insta-hot kettle. For stuff that you need a lot of hot water for, use a wash rack version of the insta-hot kettle, they hook up to the horse and warm the water as it flows through the machine.
Insta-hot water is a plus, for grooming and for beverages!
- Active complaining about how cold it is. Clearly ineffective at bringing warm weather back quickly, but might warm up the face as anger is generated.
- Keep moving. The minute you start to get cold, do a chore that requires more activity. Re-stack the hay storage, drag the arena without the tractor and only using a fork, build more shelters by yourself.
- Get out of the wind. An enclosed tack or feed room is nice to escape to for the less active chores that need to get done. Don’t clean tack in the barn aisle, find another set up behind a door.
- Let the hour-by-hour forecast be your guide. Go to the barn over lunch instead of after dark when it’s even colder if you can.
How do you deal with the cold?