#EquestrianProblems: Freezing Your Butt Off

Winter Riding
Regular riding clothes just aren’t designed for winter.
Stock photo girl knows what I’m talking about.

It’s a frigid day, but you’re itching to ride. Your horse is well-fuzzed for winter, so you know he can handle a hack around the farm. Maybe you toss on a quarter sheet for good measure. You dutifully warm up his bit before bridling him, take him over to the mounting block and climb aboard. Your saddle feels like ice through your breeches, but no matter. It’ll warm up soon enough.

Later, you notice a prickly rash on your skin where your body was in contact with the saddle. What’s happening?

Equestrian cold panniculitis is a real thing. I have not experienced it, at least not with visible symptoms like those shown in the published study, but I’ve definitely had the unpleasant experience of numb-butt (that’s a clinical term) after a cold ride. Apparently equestrian cold panniculitis is caused by some combination of wearing breeches all day in cold weather and spending a lot of time with your behind in the saddle.

Interestingly, riders who smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day were more likely to experience symptoms. Correlation doesn’t always equal causation, but just to be safe, don’t smoke, kids.

Anyway, there are a few ways that you can probably, in my non-medical opinion, reduce your risk.

1. Ride Bareback.
Your horse is a heated seat. Take advantage of this! Even if your horse has a bony back (mine sure does) riding in a fuzzy bareback pad is still less like sitting on an iceberg than riding in a saddle on a cold day is.

Barn Cat
Even without a horse under it, the bareback pad is pretty comfy on a cold day.

On the other hand, if you’re a trainer and/or are working with young greenies and/or getting ready to compete in a discipline that requires a saddle (which is, inexplicably, most of them) you might not have that option. Might I suggest…

2. Fleece-lined Breeches.
I tell anyone who will listen (and some people who would rather not) how great fleece-lined breeches are. Are they fashionable? No. I have one pair that looks like skin-tight sweatpants, which is not flattering to anyone. But when I wear them, I’m warm. I’ve even worn them to go for a run on a cold evening (outdoors, in public.) I’ve come home from a riding lesson, put my jeans on over my fleece-lined breeches, and taken the dog for a walk. And when I do that, I am comfortable, no matter how cold.

Seriously, go get some fleece breeches. You might be able to find them on clearance right now.

Winter’s almost over, but the cold will persist for a while. Stay safe, everyone.

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Leslie Potter is Sr. Associate Web Editor of HorseChannel.com. Follow her on Twitter: @LeslieInLex.




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