Trail Test ~ Winter Breeches
Description: The Sit Tight N Warm Fullseat Breech from Kerrits boasts Polartec Wind Pro fleece designed to keep you warm in the saddle on cold days. The outershell is wind-resistant, water-repellent, and won't collect horsehair or lint. The material, which contains spandex, stretches four ways to provide unrestricted movement and a comfort feel.
The fullseat area is made from polyurethane polyester that mimics suede and grips the saddle for a secure feel. The material allows air to flow, is lightweight, and stretches for a custom fit. Available in Black, Tan, and Moka. Sizes range from XS to 2XL.
The tester: Colorado horsewoman Heidi Melocco, long-time riding instructor and seasoned equine journalist.
Test results: I tested the breeches during the first snowfall of the season. The breeches were comfortable as soon as I put them on. I liked the stretch, the way the waistband lay flat against my stomach, and the way the inside fleece felt soft and warm against my legs.
The outer fabric was put to the test indoors and out. Inside, I tested the fabric by pouring an entire glass of ice water over the knee; the water rolled off without even beading. I could feel a slight change in temperature on my leg, but my skin was dry. Outside, the breeches kept me warm as sleet fell.
The fullseat material is more gripping than leather, and felt secure against the saddle leather. It wasn't too bulky or heavy when walking about.
The outer fabric didn't latch onto dog or horsehair. I have a red merle Aussie with tons of white on her and I'm always embarrassed to look like a fur ball before I even get to the barn. The dog hair usually sticks to everything, but it was easy to brush off of these riding pants.
Overall, I liked the fit — the wide band at the top helped the breeches keep their shape and feel secure, and the material was thick enough to smooth over hips and curves. The belt loops allow you to dress up your look. The fabric's check pattern makes the pants identifiable and fashionable, but is subtle enough to wear with most any top.
I often ride Western, but I like these breeches as a warm and more gripping alternative to denim. They were long enough to fit down into both my Western boots and paddock boots with half-chaps.
Amigo Stable Blankets, by Horseware Ireland, are designed to keep your horse cozy and warm while in the barn. The Amigo one-piece insulator provides full body comfort with a 210D rip-stop outershell, and your choice of a 200g or 350g fill. Other features include straight front closures, two criss-cross belly surcingles, and a tail cord to keep the blanket in place. Sizes 66 to 84 inches. Cost: $139.00.
Heated Saddle Pad
The battery-heated CozyPad from CozyRides sits atop your saddle to provide warmth for up to 11 hours on those cold winter trails; with five temperature settings, you can fine-tune your comfort level. The waterproof heating pads inside make the pad safe even in damp conditions and it won't damage your saddle. Made from washable fleece material. The rechargeable battery sits securely behind the cantle. Available for both Western and English saddles. Cost: $89.
Winter Riding Boots
Keep your feet — and legs — dry and warm even in soggy winter conditions: The Mountain Horse Rimrock High Rider Winter Boots from English Riding Supply feature a solid, waterproof foot with removable faux-fur insole and water-repellent leg shaft made of soft, flexible nylon and a warm, faux-fur lining. The adjustable hook-and-loop closure at the back of the leg shaft helps you customize your fit; reflective inserts on the back of the foot aid nighttime visibility. Dirt-repellent tread zones on the boots' soles help prevent slippage in the stirrup. Available in youth and ladies sizes. Cost: $88.75 (youth); $99.95 (ladies).
Insulated Riding Gloves
Made from sheepskin leather and lined with stretch fleece, these Insulated Pro Grip gloves from Ariat International, Inc., keep fingers toasty when the mercury drops. A water-resistant finish helps you stay protected in dry or damp conditions, while a ribbed cuff adds to comfort while retaining heat. Cost: From $44.95.