Winter horseback riding gloves are one of the best ways to keep your equestrian pursuits enjoyable if mother nature throws nasty winter weather your way.
Even if you don’t have to contend with driving snow and plummeting temperatures, wearing the right gloves for the season will keep you safer, warmer, and more comfortable this winter.
Are you looking to buy the right winter riding gloves for you this season? Our Ultimate Buying Guide: Winter Gloves will shed light on what to look for, how to measure and fit gloves, and how to choose the best riding gloves for your unique needs.
Why Wear Riding Gloves?
Knowing why you’re wearing gloves will help you decide which features are important to you and which you can do without.
Riding gloves aren’t just for looking good (although they do that, too!). They’re designed to reduce rein chafing against the sensitive skin on the insides of your fingers, for one. They also offer improved grip compared to bare hands, which means less slipping and readjusting reins.
When it comes to mucking and barn chores, a reliable pair of gloves will also protect your hands from blisters, splinters, and abrasions. And if winter gets chilly where you live, winter riding gloves will keep your hands warm and ready to ride. Cold hands can be dangerous, as reduced circulation decreases hand movement and dexterity.
What to Look for In Winter Riding Gloves
Winter riding gloves offer a few different features than regular riding gloves.
For starters, they’re much warmer.
Many riding gloves are made of Thinsulate, a lightweight synthetic fiber that reduces heat loss while still allowing moisture to escape, meaning hands stay warm and dry. It also retains its warmth when wet, which is excellent if you plan on riding outside.
Thicker gloves are often lined with fleece lining, which is ultra-plush and great for frigid weather or keeping hands extra cozy.
If you plan on doing a lot of really cold weather riding, consider riding mittens. Keeping your fingers together keeps them super warm, but the separate pinky finger allows proper rein position. Mittens are also great for most winter barn chores too.
Good gloves are all about grip. Whether for chores or riding, a good grip makes everything easier.
Grips are usually either PU (polyurethane) or leather.
Goat and cow leather are most common but require care just like your other leather tack. Nubuck leather (from cattle) is also a common glove and palm material. It’s soft, hardwearing, and has a texture similar to suede.
Gloves with full palms offer the best grip and are useful if your day at the barn involves mucking or leading fractious horses.
And if you always have a grip on your phone when you’re not in the saddle, Touch Screen gloves are available to keep your hands warm but still ready to snap a pic or send a text.
A key feature of a lot of winter riding gloves is a longer wrist cuff.
A long wrist cuff helps keep you warmer when you move your arms and is a must-have for hunter/jumpers to allow for a crest release without catching a chill. An elastic blend wrist cuff with some stretch will offer the most warmth and keep drafts out.
Look for a glove that also has an adjustable Velcro cuff. Tightening it will help keep cold drafts out, and loosening it allows for a little extra circulation.
But what’s the most important feature to look for when it comes to riding gloves? Comfort.
No matter how warm and dry gloves are, you won’t ride well if they’re too tight or too big. Knowing how to fit gloves for your size is essential.
How to Size Riding Gloves
Now that you know what you want, you’ll need to know how to find your size.
Fortunately, finding your glove size is easy. All you need is a tape measure or ruler.
To start, measure your dominant hand. If you write with your left hand, measure your left palm. If you’re right-handed, measure your right hand.
Next, measure your palm around the widest part of your hand – just underneath where your fingers meet your palm.
If your measurement is not exact, round up to the nearest size – gloves may stretch slightly, but too-tight gloves are uncomfortable and will negatively affect your riding.
The measurement in inches around your hand from one side of your palm to the other is your glove size.
For example, if your palm is 6.5 inches around its widest part, your glove size is 6.5.
The Right Riding Glove for Your Discipline
As long as a winter glove is comfortable, keeps you warm, and improves your grip, it’s a good choice for you.
That said, some gloves have some features that make them particularly well suited to certain types of riding or horse work.
Here are a few recommendations:
Best Gloves for Jumping
Hunter/ jumper riders should look for long knit cuffs that will keep wrists warm over fences, and a velcro wrist closure will help keep cold drafts out.
Additionally, full grip palms provide the most rein contact and reduce slipping.
While warmth is important, look for lightweight, breathable materials that won’t make your hands sweat.
Best Gloves for Dressage
For dressage or flatwork, contact and comfort are paramount.
White or black leather gloves are a traditional choice for dressage. A full leather or synthetic grip palm will give the best contact.
Look for a winter pair with brushed or lightweight Thinsulate lining to reduce bulk and improve feel.
A velcro wrist closure can help keep warmth in while keeping cold air out.
Best Gloves for Lessons
Lessons are a great way to experiment with different gloves and to have fun with bright colors, bold prints, and other fun embellishments that you probably couldn’t get away with in the ring.
Magic gloves are a great beginner-friendly option and give tremendous stretch, so they’re easy to fit and make an excellent choice for fast-growing kids. They also have a full rubber stubble palm for grip and, unlike many gloves, can be thrown in the laundry machine to wash.
Best Gloves for Barn Work
If your barn time regularly includes barn chores, you may want to consider a separate pair of gloves for each activity – mucking stalls in your expensive riding gloves will just wear them out faster, and a less expensive pair of gloves can provide just as much, if not more, protection.
A nitrile covered palm is too grippy for riding but is perfect for water buckets and wheelbarrows.
Because you don’t have to worry about rein contact, you can choose thicker fabrics like fleece lining, nubuck leather, or even layer another pair of gloves underneath.
Best Gloves for Super Cold Riding
The best winter riding gloves for the very coldest days aren’t gloves at all, but riding mitts.
Keeping your fingers together keeps them warmer, and the separate pinky still allows you to hold reins properly.
Glove liners a great way to add a thin, ultra-lightweight second layer under your regular riding gloves on the coldest days.
Glove liners are usually either made of silk or ceramic infused strands that trap and hold body heat. Liners are very thin and should be worn underneath gloves – otherwise, liners won’t stand up to regular wear.
A good pair of winter riding gloves can make all the difference between a warm, comfy ride and a miserable, frigid experience.
Make good fit and dry warmth your priority, and you can’t go wrong with an array of features and fabrics that make winter riding gloves comfortable, stylish, and supremely useful.
Let us know: Do you wear winter riding gloves? What’s your favorite pair?