What You Should Wear Horseback Riding in the Summer
When you first look at horseback riding attire and gear, you may think there is no way you could wear these things in the Summer. Wool jackets, tall leather boots, and riding breeches on a hot Summer’s day?? No. But equestrian attire is a big business, and fortunately, those businesses have had years to come up with new and innovative gear that is meant to keep you comfortable in the hot weather.
So, what horseback riding attire can you wear in hot weather? There are several attire options for warm weather riding, including moisture-wicking shirts and ventilated riding breeches. Summer riders should also consider investing in ventilated gloves, lightweight socks, and short boots. Even your helmet can help to keep you cool if you select one with adequate mesh “windows”.
If you’re approaching your first summer as a horseback rider, it’s imperative to invest in summer riding attire to help keep you cool and happy. Below you will find detailed information on the features to look for in hot-weather equestrian attire.
Horseback Riding Attire For the Summer: The Necessities
While most horseback riding attire was developed to keep the rider comfortable, there are a couple of must-haves that are necessary to staying safe in the saddle – helmets and boots. While helmets and boots are not considered ideal for warm weather, there are several products available now that have both safety and comfort in mind.
Hot Weather Helmets
You’re hot, you’re sweaty, and your hair is damp and sticking to your head. The last thing you want to do is put your helmet on to ride. But there is no negotiating out of this one – I recommend you always wear an ASTM/SEI-certified riding helmet when riding… even when it’s hot outside. There is no benefit that will outweigh the risk when it comes to protecting your brain.
So how do you protect yourself without overheating? Through ventilation, sweatbands, and shade.
Many riding helmets will have ventilation “windows” on the top of the helmet. These are designed to make the helmet as breathable as possible, without compromising the protective structure of the helmet. While you will find many helmets with this ventilation included, some helmets have designs with more mesh openings than others. If you are in a particularly hot climate and would like as much cooling ventilation as possible, look for a helmet that has adequate ventilation windows included.
Some riding helmets will also have interior removable sweatbands. These sweatbands collect the sweat as you ride so that it is not dripping down your forehead – after all, the last thing you want to do while riding is blink the sweat out of your eyes. If your helmet did not come with an interior sweatband, you can purchase one and wear it under your helmet – just make sure it does not interfere with a proper fitting.
Lastly, you should consider protecting your eyes, face, and ears from the sun while you are riding in the Summer. Most riding helmets have visors, but many are not adequate to keep the sun out of your face. There are visors that you can purchase that attach directly to your helmet, giving you added protection from the sunlight.
Hot Weather Boots
Footwear with heels is a must for horseback riding, and that usually means boots. If you ride without a heel, you risk your foot slipping through the stirrup, resulting in a serious safety hazard if you were to fall from the horse and get dragged.
In hot weather, you might decide to stay away from dress (knee-high) boots and instead might choose shorter footwear. If you are an English rider, you can elect for paddock (ankle high) boots – very common footwear that many English riders prefer regardless of the season. If you are a Western rider, you can try “short boots”, which can be described just as they sound – Western boots that are simply shorter. While your feet will still be covered in protective leather boots, at least you can limit the warmer covering to your feet instead of your calves as well.
I, myself prefer short riding boots for all seasons. If you need some help finding the best short riding boots for you, visit my article Short Horseback Riding Boots: Buying Guide.
Horseback Riding Attire For the Summer: The Extras
You can’t just ride with a helmet and boots. So what about the rest of your horseback riding attire – are there any options for hot weather?
Hot Weather Horseback Riding Attire: Pants
It is important for your comfort to wear pants when riding, even in the hot weather. Yes, it may be tempting to wear shorts, but if you try that once you will probably not try it again. So what are your hot weather options when it comes to pants?
Many riders prefer wearing jeans. If you want to wear jeans, you should do so. But riding breeches designed for warm-weather use will keep you cooler. These breeches are often ventilated in the calf area and are made with moisture-wicking material – allowing you to reap the benefits of evaporative cooling.
Hot Weather Horseback Riding Attire: Shirts
Unless you are limited by competition guidelines, you really have endless options when it comes to horseback riding shirts. You can wear long-sleeved shirts, short-sleeved shirts, or even tank tops. There are two items to consider when choosing a hot-weather riding shirt.
First, you will want to choose moisture-wicking material or breathable cotton. You are going to be sweating – but if that sweat stays trapped on your skin, you won’t be able to stay cool. Try to stick with a shirt that is loose enough so as not to feel stifling, but fitted enough so as not to get caught in any of your tack.
Secondly, you will want to consider sun protection. While it might sound appealing to ride in a tank top, you will probably need to apply sunscreen if you do so. For sun protection, you might choose to select a long-sleeved sun shirt – designed to protect you from harmful UVA/UVB rays and wick away the moisture from your skin. As a bonus – long-sleeved shirts will also better protect you from scrapes and scratches.
Hot Weather Horseback Riding Attire: Gloves
While you might not feel like wearing gloves in the hot weather, they usually make for a more comfortable ride, depending on the horse you are riding and your tack. There are several ventilated gloves on the market, designed with mesh backs for a more breathable option. Some riders also prefer the crochet-backed riding gloves in the Summer. “Crochet” might make you think of Winter afghans and sweaters, but many attest that crochet-backed riding gloves are the most breathable and comfortable in the Summer. Also – consider the wrists. Most riding gloves have velcro so that you can tighten and secure them to your wrists, but you may choose to wear a more open style in the Summer.
Hot Weather Horseback Riding Attire: Undergarments
Undergarments may receive less attention than the other hot-weather attire, but should not be ignored. Wearing the right (or wrong) undergarments can make all the difference! The common theme you will see here will be “moisture-wicking”.
First, let’s talk about socks. You will need to pack away your wool boot socks and buy some lightweight cotton or moisture-wicking socks. There are several boots on the market specifically designed for wearing boots in hot weather.
Next, you will want to consider your underwear. You can purchase underwear specifically designed for riding in the hot weather, or you can select any underwear that is well-fitting and designed to keep you cool (you may find some good options in the workout section of your local clothing or sporting goods store).
Finally, consider your bra. Depending on your build, you may already be wearing a sports bra when riding for comfort. In hot weather, you will want to choose a sports bra that is made with moisture-wicking material to keep you even more comfortable. Again, you will probably have great luck looking in the workout attire section of your local clothing or sporting goods store.
Other Hot Weather Horseback Riding Attire Considerations
It is important to invest in the right attire for the season for both your comfort and for your health. But there are a couple of other considerations that you should take when riding in hot weather.
It (should) go without saying that you need to stay hydrated in the hot weather. Riding is good exercise, and exercise that you probably are doing outdoors – you will be sweating, and it is vital that you replenish your fluids as you lose them. Drink more water than you think you need, or you will risk becoming dehydrated.
You might also want to change your riding schedule to accommodate the weather – both for your own comfort and for your horse’s. If it is going to be especially hot, plan to do the bulk of your riding and horse care in the morning or evening. Avoid riding in the middle of day when the sun is directly overhead, or in the afternoon when the temperature is at its highest.
It’s also important that your horse stays hydrated in the Summer as well. The heat can cause horses to sweat and makes retaining water more difficult. To learn ways to make sure your horse is staying hydrated, visit my article How to Get a Horse to Drink Water: Complete Guide.
It Is Possible To Ride Comfortably In Hot Weather
Depending on your location, it can get downright hot, humid, and uncomfortable in the Summer. Don’t let that stop you from having a comfortable ride, though – if you invest in the right attire and consider the time of day, you should be able to have a great ride no matter the season.
Sometimes, it can just be too hot to ride. When the weather is like this, it’s best for you and your horse to stay inside, or in the shade. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do with your horse other than riding. To get some ideas, visit my article 35 Fun Things To Do With Your Horse (Other Than Riding.)