As the dog days of summer roll in, nothing seems less appealing than putting on leather boots and a hard hat before a nice broiling ride in the sun. But training schedules wait for no one, and if you’re prepping for the fall show season, you know you can’t give up riding just because of a little sweat. (Okay, a lot of sweat.) Luckily, there are plenty of options these days to make summer riding, if not a breeze, then a lot more comfortable.
Go techie: Technical fabrics are made to wick away moisture or allow extra air-flow. Riding shirts and other apparel items made from technical fabrics can help you cool off more than even good old cotton, and top manufacturers like Kerrits, Ovation, Mountain Horse, and The Tailored Sportsman are making technical clothing that’s cut for equestrians. You can replace heavy breeches with lightweight riding tights that are made to look good even in the show ring. Jackets are coming out in technical fabrics, too, making summer showing a much more comfortable proposition.
Just add ice: A well-ventilated riding helmet is the first step towards a cooler ride for your head. Adding a wet bandana inside the helmet is even better. If you live in a humid climate where a wet cloth will just get hot instead of drying, try keeping a few bandanas in a bucket of cool water near the arena. You can put them inside your helmet or drape them over your neck to get an instant cool-down.
Drink water… constantly: Most heat-related illnesses start with dehydration. If you’re working out in the heat, you should be drinking water not just before or after your ride, but during your ride. Keep a water bottle handy to the riding ring, and take water with you on trail or conditioning rides. Bottle covers with a snap can turn any water bottle into a saddle or belt-loop accessory during those fun trail rides.
Remember, your horse is hotter than you are: Studies have found that heat and humidity in particular really sap a horse’s system. They reach dangerous temperature levels, dehydrate, and lose salts through sweating faster than most humans. So remember to watch your horse carefully, keep those rides to mornings and evenings whenever possible, ride in the shade, and use cooling techniques like rinse and scraping (quickly dousing the horse with water, scraping it off, and repeating) as soon as your ride is finished.
Be careful out there! You have lots of tools at your disposal to keep cool and hydrated. Make sure you’re using them so that you and your horse have a safe, productive summer.