Summer is officially here. Temps are rising which can impact our time in the saddle. While there’s no better way to enjoy a summer than in the saddle, it can sometimes get a little uncomfortable (and possibly unsafe) on those warmer than average days. Don’t fret, though, there are a few important ways that you can combat the effects of the sun and beat the heat in the saddle this summer.
Beat the Heat in the Saddle – Wear Cooling Clothing
Keep Your Cool Clothing
With temps hovering above 90 degrees, you need to think about ways to stay cool in the saddle. Yes, it’s time to put away the winter and spring riding-wear and make sure that you have a good summer wardrobe on hand. If you want to stay as cool as possible at the barn or in the saddle, choose summer apparel that makes use of modern technology, i.e. moisture wicking material, UPF sun protection, and lightweight fabrics.
My absolute favorite shirts for summer riding are Kerrit’s Icefil Tees. These great shirts are classy and attractive and use a patented “Icefil” material, which can keep your body up to 5 degrees cooler than your average moisture wicking shirts. They come in short and long-sleeves styles. Grab yourself one (or six) of these great shirts today!
It may seem counter-intuitive to add another piece of riding apparel in an effort to stay cooler, but there are actually two summer “additions” that can be made to your wardrobe that will actually reduce your body temperature. The HyperKewl Cooling Neck band is a handy little addition that you can submerge in cold water, wrap around your neck and it will stay hydrated for hours! It can be re-hydrated at any time to prolong the effect, and the HyperKewl can actually reduce your core body temperature up to 12 degrees.
Cooling Beanie for Under Your Hat or Helmet
Keeping your noggin cool impacts the rest of your body. Here’s a way you can stay 10-12 degrees cooler for hours. Just get this HyperKewl Evaporative Cooling beanie cap wet and place it over your head and under your hat or helmet. The multi-layered fabric keeps you dry while casting cooling air around your head. This cap is designed to stay damp and cool for several hours and can be rehydrated as needed throughout the day.
Cooling Sport Vest
Looking for extra cooling relief from the summer heat? A cooling vest will turn your body temps down and keep you comfortable working with or riding your horse in the heat. Get yourself a HyperKewl Cooling Sport Vest.
HyperKewl Evaporative Cooling: This simple and effective technology works by combining water with our HyperKewl Fabric to create garments that gradually release water through evaporation to keep you cool, but comfortable.
Yes, even your feet can be cooler in the saddle with Tuffrider Coolmax Boot socks. With your feet in the stirrups and near horse’s hooves, wearing boots is a must in the saddle and around horses even in the summer. Keep your feet a bit cooler with specially-designed socks for riders. These boot socks are crafted with a cushioned sole and Coolmax material to keep your feet comfortable all day.
Keep the Sun off Your Face
Wear a wide-brimmed hat when working with your horse and for riding. The baseball cap is better than nothing but does not provide full sun coverage for the sides of your face or your neck. A cowboy hat is better than a baseball cap but still with sides that are turned upward, coverage for the sides of your face and neck can be eliminated. I like the Barmah hat for sun coverage.
You should also consider wearing a specially-designed, sun-blocking hat over your helmet when riding. There are several options to add to your helmet for those long trail rides in the sun like EquiVisor Cotton Helmet Visor or the Soless UV-Blocking Helmet Visor.
Beat the Heat in the Saddle – Stay Hydrated
When it comes to staying comfortable and safe on those hot summer days, the first and most important thing to remember is hydration. Whether you’re hitting the local trail head, or fighting for a spot in the warm-up arena at a summer show, making sure that both you and your horse are safe from dehydration can mean the difference between a good time and a possibly costly trip to the veterinarian or hospital.
Your Horse Needs Water
We’ve all heard the old adage, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”, and, as equestrians, we all know this to be true. When it comes to training or riding in the warmth of the summer sun, the first trick is the simplest…make sure your horse has access to clean water at all times. Keep your troughs scrubbed out and free of debris, and make sure that if you are traveling you bring water along with you to offer to your horse at the trailer prior to and after a ride. Did you know that your horse’s healthy water intake can double when it’s excessively warm or he is exerting himself?
Sometimes simply providing water isn’t enough to stay safe, especially when your horse is working hard and sweating excessively. In these cases, a good electrolyte supplement can be a lifesaver. Most electrolyte supplements are fed prior to heavy exertion or travel (a trail ride, an endurance ride, a trailer ride, horse show, etc.), and continued on a maintenance dose throughout an “event”. Endura Max Electrolyte Supplement is one of the most respected and often used products on the market. It can be fed as a top-dressing in feed or mixed in a large syringe with water, yogurt or applesauce as an immediate-dose electrolyte boost.
You Need Water
Most of us get so caught up with our horse’s health and comfort that we sometimes forget ourselves. Whether you’re just spending a long day at the barn or doing a 5-mile loop on one of our county’s beautiful trails, don’t forget to give yourself “free access” to water as well.
Drink at least a full 8-ounce glass of water prior to leaving the house, and make sure that you bring a refillable water bottle with you while you’re on the go. It can be inconvenient to carry a water bottle with us when we ride – no one likes a bouncing addition to their tack set-up – but the Cashel Water Bottle and Cell Phone holder fixes that problem with its simple snap system, which keeps your water bottle snug on any saddle. Pick yourself up one of these holders and carry a bottle of water with you while you ride.
Need an insulated water bottle to keep your water cool through your ride? Takeya is my go-to water bottle. The lid stays with the bottle so you can’t drop it on a ride, the opening is just the right size so water doesn’t spill out the sides of your mouth and the handle at the top makes it easy to grab or attach to anything with a carabiner clip.
So, remember beating the heat in the saddle this summer is both about comfort AND safety. Stay hydrated and stay cool. Make use of your common sense, your horsemanship skills and these great products to have a fun and productive riding season.
Cover Photo: Sharon Jantzen
Just so you know, clicking the above picture and product links takes you to the product on either the Amazon or the Riding Warehouse websites. This makes shopping easy and convenient for you. We do get a little kick-back from items purchased, giving us resources to bring you more stories, but your price stays the same. It’s a win-win! Also for local riders you can order items online and request pick-up – during checkout – at the Riding Warehouse store in San Luis Obispo. Happy Trails!