What Do Winter Working Students Wear?

Getting past my fear of faltering physically (I know expectations will be reasonable, but this will be quite an activity increase) my biggest fear is cold feet. I hate cold feet and I always seem to have them. Uggs were great when I discovered them, but they won't do for cleaning stalls and temperatures that go up and down as they have been this winter (cold AND wet). I'm thinking Bogs. Everyone here is wearing them. Are they popular in your areas too? Are they as warm as people say? They are supposed to be rated to -40 and waterproof as well. Any other suggestions?
Now, moving on up. What do you wear to work, and then ride? Do you start with long johns, then breeches, with insulated over-alls if it's really cold? Maybe the insulated riding pants with side zippers to slip in and out of easily (I have a similar pair with matching jacket but only ride in them if I'm outside and it's really cold)? Overkill?
Jackets I think I have covered - every length and fit, down filled, vests,... and lots of long sleeve T's and turtle necks.
Gloves? I have insulated deer hide that I'll probably wear, but maybe I need something warmer. And I must remember hats and scarves.

So those are my questions and I'm dead serious. I know how to dress for winter riding, and how to dress to look after our two or three horses, but hours in the barn will be different. If you have suggestions please pass them along. This is my first lesson for my own place! Hey, I can probably claim new purchases as a work expense!


Oak Creek Ranch said…
Given our climate, I'm not exactly an expert on this subject but I do have Bogs. I got them about a year ago and they are fantastic in cold weather (upper20sF) here. My feet have never been cold. And they're cute too -- as mucking boots go.
Michelle said…
I love the look and fit of Bogs, but haven't been able to justify their cost. I would wear my zip-up insulated Ariat paddock boots with SmartWool socks, because they are comfortable, warm and appropriate for riding after chores. I have some double-layer winter breeches that I'd wear for both chores and riding, with insulated bibs over them if absolutely necessary. Me thinks you'll be working hard enough that you'll stay warm without them, though! I don't wear hats; a polarfleece headband keeps my ears from getting cold.
Jeni said…
Layers - lots of layers is all I can say.
There are boots similar to Bogs that are a bit cheaper, called Mud Ruckers...maybe look into those!
We don't have the frigid temps you do very often, but I work outside all day
so I guess there's a cumulative effect.

For feet, I swear by SmartWool socks - pricey but totally worth it. And Ace Hardware - do you have in Canada? - carry a Bogs alternative that is plain but equally warm and comfy, plus very durable. I've worn them all day before, no rubbing and toasty toes.

For riding, feet, hands, head (balaclava) and core - layers plus a down vest - keeps me warm but still gives mobility in my arms and legs. I hate feeling restricted in my shoulders and hips when I'm working.

I think once you really get moving you'll warm up more than you might think.
juliette said…
Good luck with staying warm. I always use Carhartts and Sorel boots. This year my Sorels are leaking. They are over 14 years old! I just spent a few minutes on the Bogs site. I have Wellies for spring and summer but Bogs sound like they are warm for winter.

I layer the clothes, but I am always too hot when working and too cold when riding. Good luck Carol. This will be an adventure!
TBDancer said…
Seconding what others have said about layers: You have to be able to move, and you WILL warm up when you muck, ride, groom, etc. As for the feet, I hate cold feet--especially when I'm riding--so the rubber tall boots are TORTURE because they offer no insulation. If I'm walking around, my feet are fine. Circulation doing its thing, toes toasty. Riding, not so much.

Don't make the mistake of putting on lots of socks if you have rubber riding boots. If your feet are stuffed into boots, blood can't do its job ;o)

Like Michelle, I wear wool socks and Ariat insulated paddock boots. My feet are warm when I ride.

Avoid synthetic materials, especially close to your skin. I like thermals or Cuddleduds or Cuddleskins (the silk ones). Thin enough to allow for movement, if you perspire you're not soaked in sweat, which make you cold.
Congrats on your new position! I spent many, many years as a working student, and then as a barn manager, so I consider myself a bit of an expert on "barn rat" fashion choices!

First off, I wouldn't buy expensive shoes, or expensive anything for that matter! You will ruin everything you wear to the barn, expensive or not. Get the most comfortable pair of cheap, waterproof shoes you can find, then put Dr. Scholl's inserts in them. If you have a sporting goods or hunting supply store, they sell great woolly socks for hunting that keep your feet very warm.

Wear several thin, easily removed layers of clothing, as you will get too hot, then too cold, then too hot again. I used to wear breeches with jogging pants over them on bottom, then a t-shirt, flannel shirt, and sweat shirt combo on top, then a pair of water-proof hunting coveralls over it all.

For your hands, the cheap, stretchy knit gloves fit under a pair of leather work gloves perfectly. Plus, you can take off the leather glove and replace it with a latex dish glove (when you need to work with water) and your hands will still stay warm!

Have fun and good luck! You'll learn a lot!
For mucking stalls and such I went heavy duty and bought ice fishing pak boots from Cabela's that have 2000 grams of Thinsulate. I can even ride in them if I need to but do that mostly for trail rides. They are bulky and not for precision riding. They do keep my feet warm 100% of the time now.
For pants, I wear UnderArmor Base 2.0 pants plus winter breeches if I am taking a lesson and add my arctic Carhartt bibs when I am not. I ride dressage and jump in my bibs, a little more difficult but it can be done and I stay warm.
For shirt I wear UnderArmor Base 2.0 shirt plus a t-shirt and sweatshirt then an arctic Carhartt jacket. Keeps me warm and I normally have to unzip or take off my jacket while riding.
For a hat I have a handmade felted hat that keeps out all wind and precipitation. For riding though I stay cold, I just have a polarfleece headband and my helmet.
For gloves I have SSG Winter Pro gloves that work well for indoor arena work, for outside I use whatever I can find.
Hand and toe warmers are my friend and work very well. It is all I ask for at Christmas or my birthday and I have about 500 hand warmers and about 100 toe warmers right now. I will go through over 100 of each in a season. Hope my long post helps!
SprinklerBandit said…
To echo what everyone else is saying--layers!! It starts out cold, but temperatures fluctuate and you warm up as you move around. As for what to wear, it depends on your personal preferences. I would always rather be a little bit cold than unable to move because of thick clothes. With that in mind, I wear lots of thin layers and strip accordingly. I'm all about moisture wicking base layers. Essential item here!!!

Also. Horse-related clothing is ridiculously expensive. You really can't compromise much on breeches and gloves, but all my shirts and undershirts are from Target. My wool socks are from a generic farm supply store, and I watch for sales on cool stuff like rain pants.

Have fun! I do, every single day.
Jan said…
Carol, Oh, you've gotten lots of good ideas here! For a hat, I now swear by my Stormy Kromer hats, which are wool with cotton lining, and my ear muffs to keep my ears good and warm. I, too, like my Ariat insulated waterproof paddock boots and the Smartwool socks which I get on QVC shopping channel. For muddy days, I love my MudRuckers boots but am not sure if they will keep your feet really warm.

I have had good luck with two pairs of regular leggings under my Kmart jeans to keep my legs warm enough. I agree with layering the gloves as well - on the coldest days, I have a pair of very thin stretchy gloves that I can wear under most any leather gloves and they add more warmth. It is such a challenge to get it just right because you go from cold to hot when mucking or working and then take a layer off, then add a layer later. I really think horsepeople sweat as much in the winter as in the summer! It'll be fun to see what you get!
TeresaA said…
I echo the layers comments. Also- where items that will wick away moisture. I use the undershirts that hockey players wear- keeps the warmth in and wicks the sweat away. Wool socks from any outfitting store. boots with room to move your toes so the blood can circulate. I love my prospector boots.

I wear insulated coveralls to muck out but I only have to do one horse, not a bunch. :)
Jenn said…
These ladies are right - Smart Wool socks allllll the way. They last forever and pay for themsleves over and over agian. You don't need a million pairs, but I think you'll love them. I also wear cheap stretchy gloves under whatever extreme winter gloves i have on because there are plenty of times you need to do up buckles and such, use clips etc and some heavy gloves just don't allow that. I also agree that wiggle room is esential. Don't stuff your boots full of awesome socks or you'll suffer blue feet from lack of circulation!
Carol said…
What GREAT responses. I can't thank you enough. This is excellent information, and although there is lots of information out there re winter riding, there isn't anything on this topic. I'm labelling it so others can find it - there is a ton of good information in these comments.
The Bogs look nice. I haven't seen them but then again I wasn't looking for all day warmth. It's easy for me to slack off and run into the house. The insulated pants look like a good idea or the overalls, whichever you prefer. Try them both I think.

The only thing I can probably offer is for your hands (mine are always cold) I like insulated mittens with fold back fingers. You just pop the tops off and they fold back when you need to use your 'real' fingers. Sometimes the gloves are too bulky. Good luck and have loads of fun.
Kc said…
Bring a change of base layers with you for the day too, in case you do get a little sweaty/wet! If you keep wet clothes on you will chill, so I always change the layer that is on my skin (sometimes the first two layers) the layer my jumpers back on again. Nice and dry and toasty (especially if you heat your 'fresh' top on a heater in the tack room first!)
Allison said…
Since you are covered for riding...

I use Sorels for work but nothing is as warm as my Mt. Horse Fusion paddock shoes which are no longer made! Wool socks are a must. Check out the Vermont Darn Toughs! They have a foot energizing support sewn in them which really works.

I just ordered the Mt Horse Avoriaz gloves for working and I use glove liners. Right now I use a pair of lined leather work gloves with liners. Your hands will learn to re-heat after getting extremely cold. If you can get past the pain point, 5 min. later your fingers will be toasty.

My insulated Carhartt work pants are extremely warm. I can take them off to switch into Mt. Horse Polar riding breeches.

For riding gloves I think the Heritage Extreme winter glove is the best.

There are also helmet cozy covers available. I'd also found an anti-static face mask (ski area near me) for under my helmet.

Thanks! Northern Vermont signing in, 45 min. south of Canada. :-)
Achieve1dream said…
Oh wow, I have no advice. It doesn't get that cold here so I rarely need more than jeans (cold legs and feet don't bother me for some reason as long as my core, ears and hands are warm), several shirts, jacket, gloves and hat. I haven't read the comments so sorry if I'm repeating, but the most important part to me is layering, because I get hot fairly quickly once I start working and if you can't take layers off you're going to be miserable. Good luck and have fun!
Anonymous said…
I'm sorry I'm late to jump in here, but I have to add this because it will save your health when you're sweating on a cold winter day:


I have always ridden in layers, but last year I found I repeatedly got very bad chills after riding. I would sweat when I rode, then go outside to load the horse in the trailer and catch a terrible chill. I was wearing cotton base layers, and cotton traps moisture.

Your base layers need to be wool! Merino wool is best for wicking. This is key! I have been wearing that Merino wool base layer from MEC non-stop this year and I haven't had any chills. I also have merino wool long johns that fit great under breeches, but it's my torso that sweats so I find the undershirt to be more important.