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    [RC] [RC] riding in the rain - only for the die-hards - Flora Hillman

    I almost fell off my chair laughing at this post -- simply because the next issue of Endurance News will have a story about riding a 2-day 100 ... in a nor'easter!  Talk about rain AND wind AND cold!  Everything in this post is in the article - which is hilarious reading.  (If you don't want to wait for your EN, you can read the unedited and unabridged story on www.aurigafarm.8m.com)
    Anyway -- figuring SunsetOvrC wants some serious answers, here are some from an old foxhunter and former eventer ... 
    1. Yes, it is OK to ride with a quarter sheet (rump rug) IF the weather is cold, and IF your horse is hunter-clipped. Lightweight wool is the best because it keeps the croup warm without trapping excess heat.  If your horse is not clipped, a quarter sheet is not necessary for riding -- her/his winter coat over the rump should be more than adequate, even in the rain. You'll only need to use the quarter sheet when your horse is left standing around for a period of time after your ride. 
    2. Water "resistant" does not mean water "proof".  If your raincoat is only resistant, you will get wet.  Go out to your nearest cheapo discount store and get a plastic poncho to throw over your regular riding coat.  A poncho will still allow your body to "breathe". If you wear tight fitting plastic rain gear you risk becoming soaked by your own body sweat - which sets the stage for sickness. 
    3. Don't worry about the working muscles of your horse -- the internal body heat generated by the movement of walking, trotting, and cantering will keep them warm. You do want to make sure you walk the first mile out, and the last mile back to properly warm-up/cool-down the horse's large muscle groups. About the only muscles that will be actively working in your body when you ride will be your legs. (Assuming your horse is well mannered and correctly bitted, your arms will be fairly passive).  You can keep your legs warmer by wearing a pair of pantyhose under your britches.  If the rain is severe, slip a length of plastic under your britches just over the top of your thigh. It will keep your upper leg warm and dry, even tho your britches may get soaked. 
    4. Old skier's trick -- slip a plastic bag over each foot (on top of the socks) before you put on your riding shoes.  It will keep your toes and feet toasty warm and dry in the coldest of weather.
    5.  Wear light layers of clothing that are zippered and/or buttoned in the front to let you "vent" your own body heat. Wear wool gloves and carry an extra pair with you to switch mid-way.  Cold fingers will make the rest of your body chilled, no matter how warmly you dress.
    Riding in the rain/snow/cold can be pretty exhilarating.  For some strange reason your horse will probably be far better mannered and quieter than normal.  Go figure.  Since you can be pretty sure your friends will think you're totally nuts and refuse to ride with you, you will have some wonderful quality time with your horse, and really get a chance to enjoy the solitary beauty of the countryside.  Have fun!
    Flora Hillman - Middleburg, VA
    AERC #30079