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Staying Dry

For the last 15 years or so, I've been using hi-tech clothing. I often have to hike in almost any season to get to some of the locations where I'll shoot landscape photos. But I don't enjoy it when I get wet unless I'm actually swimming or snorkeling. The rest of the time, I don't want to get wet. As this relates to caring for and riding horses, I feel similarly.

So, I'm a big fan of breathable polymer membranes in my outerwear. These membranes stop water from getting through while they let my perspiration escape. The most famous and original is likely familiar to you: Gore-Tex®. And there are other products specially designed fabrics to perform this function, such as Epic®, eVent®, and L.L.Bean's Tek2.5®. Regardless, they all help keep you dry when active outdoors.

Another benefit they provide is excellent wind blockage; this is especially important in the winter when strong, cold winds can quickly steal away our heat through normal clothing. But don't stop there, this form of clothing is available in many products related to riding. For example:

  • My riding coat with these materials keep water and wind away from the trunk of my body, even in a heavy rain.
  • My riding boots use it to keep my feet dry even when I step into a deep puddle of water, mud, or horse waste.
  • My gloves use it to keep my hands dry even if I brush off a lot of wet snow or put my hand into liquid water.
  • I have ski pants I use when riding of very cold days that keep the water and wind off my legs.
So when colder weather comes along, with the proper clothing, you can enjoy riding in it without the discomfort. And these clothes generally last a long time. I have coats and gloves that I use every year and have had them for over 15 years so far — they're still in good shape and I'll be using them again next winter.

While my outerwear is waterproof, I'm not one to intentionally go riding in rainy weather, especially when it's cold, for my horse's sake as well as mine. But, here in New England, the weather has a reputation of changing very quickly regardless of the forecast. I like the fact that if it should change quickly and start to rain before I get all the way back to the barn, hi-tech clothing will keep most of me completely dry and significantly reduce the risk of hypothermia.

Besides being an avid trail rider, Jerry Tardif is a technology consultant and a horse and nature photographer in SE Connecticut — see his work at: www.jerrytardif.com. He is also co-founder and President of QueryHorse.

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