Riding gloves are disposable items for many of us. They disappear into pockets of coats that land on the floor of the closet, or the goat eats one, or the dog swipes one, or one gets dropped into some hidden crevice — never two, always just one. We’ve heard the theory (and we’ve tried it) that if you use expensive gloves you’ll be motivated to keep track of them. We’ve proved that to be another old groom’s tale.
While gloves are disposable, they’re also indispensable to good riding. We love the look and feel of good — and costly — leather gloves. But we save the leather gloves for shows and clinics and have turned to an unlikely source for everyday hand protection that will also protect our wallets: the gas station mini-mart.
You know that swivel rack just inside the door of the mini-mart, where baseball hats, work gloves and bandanas hang' The next time you stroll in for a coffee after you fill the tank, look on that rack for knit gloves with PVC pebbles on the palm. They usually cost around $4. They’re generally easier to find there in the winter, but we’ve seen them year round. Gas-station knit gloves usually come in just black.
These gloves are warm enough for winter riding if you’re only doing one or two horses, but they’re not sturdy enough for heavy outdoor work when the winter turns fierce. They breathe well enough for summer riding as well, and they’re fabulous when you want to keep the reins from slipping from rain or sweat. They stretch nicely so the fit is firm, better than a lot of leather and synthetic winter gloves that have too much padding. And cotton or acrylic knit gloves can be laundered easily in your washing machine.
The only real downside we’ve seen with these gloves is that longish nails will poke through the ends after several weeks of use. On the other hand (no pun intended), if you like your fingertips exposed in the winter so you can adjust buckles more easily, you can just poke out the tips of the gloves.
An occasional difficulty we’ve seen with PVC-dot gloves is that they’re super sticky with rubber reins. If you want to actually slip your reins, such as over a drop jump, you may not be able to do it. But if you might be showing in a downpour, then keep an extra pair of PVC-dot gloves in your show kit for insurance against loose reins.
Many catalogs carry knit gloves with PVC dots called the ”Magic Glove” that come in a variety of colors, including white if you need them for dressage. They’re sometimes priced as low as $2. These are bulkier than their gas-station cousins.
Another economical option is a light cotton glove with PVC dots and Velcro at the wrists, which fit a slender hand with long nails very well. One model, the Gripper, is made by the always-reliable SSG (www.ssgridinggloves.com or consult your tack store). They come in a variety of colors, including white, and there’s a fleece-lined version for winter. They’re sturdy and also very reasonably priced, around $6. Ovation also mkes a light cotton glove with PVC dots and a Velcro wrist priced below $5.
We don’t always see inexpensive knit or cotton gloves carried at tack shops, although they’re included in many catalogs. It’s not worth the cost of shipping to order these gloves alone, but if you’ve got a larger order, then it’s a no-brainer to toss in a couple pairs of PVC-dot gloves. If in doubt over fit, order down a size rather than up. These gloves do stretch.
Note, we said order a couple pairs. If you lose a glove and the goat eats a glove, if they’re not the same hand then you have three pairs for the cost of two. And, if you tend to lose gloves easily, then take advantage of the color selection. Order them in anything other than black. Even a tan glove is easier to find in the depths of your brush bag than a black glove.