Safety, mobility, dryness and warmth are the goals of any equine professional, whether training a horse, teaching a riding lesson, or simply running the farm. Let’s start from the bottom up: your feet. This is the “sole” of the matter! A good pair of boots is a must. I love my Ariat Frostbiters for horse training and riding. They are a warm, comfortable and dry winter riding boot. They also “look the part” supporting your all-important image in the eyes of your clients. I have also used Mountain Horse high boots in the past.
I have several pair of gore-tex hiking boots and insulated snowmobile-type boots that I wear for farmwork or ground-training. However, they are too wide to fit safely in the stirrups. If you prefer this type of boot, you can pick up an inexpensive pair of extra wide stirrups for winter riding safety on Ebay (avoid stirrups made of nickel-they are not as strong as stainless steel.)
Good socks are vital! Stay away from cotton socks, no matter how cushy or “insulated” they look. Over-bulky socks can cut off circulation in your feet and make them chill faster. Moisture wicking is vital. We love SmartWool, as well as a variety of synthetic blends that are warming and moisture wicking without being too bulky. Unless you are sock-shopping at an hiking or skiing store, read the fabric content on the labels and ignore advertising “hype”.
Now for the secret. You know those single-use hand-warming packets? They now make them for your feet! These changed our lives! If you work and ride in extreme cold or wind, or spend a lot of time in the elements without moving around much (I’m talking to you horseback riding instructors out there!) TRY THESE!
We don’t work horses on icy days (or anytime when the footing is precarious) but we still need to get farmwork done. Even the most agressive boot treads may not have enough traction. We slip on our YakTrax and tackle our outdoor barn chores with mountain-goat security.