It’s August in the Sunshine State, so welcome to hell, or I mean Florida.
Florida is an interesting place: in the cooler months, equestrians from all over flock here for our sunny, warm winters and beautiful competition venues in Ocala and Wellington. And then they leave, because by May (when the weather is nice in other places), Florida becomes the most miserable place on the planet.
Trying to squeeze in a ride in between thunderstorms (or hurricanes, let’s be real) and 90-plus-degree heat and 100 percent humidity is no walk in the park. Let alone just TRY to look “presentable” while doing so. But if you’re a full-time, die-hard Florida resident like me, you’ve got no choice.
Whoever had the common sense to say: “hey, let’s add spandex and other breathable, mesh material in riding clothes” has been a godsend in recent years. This new “athleisure” trend (think: yoga pants) has greatly improved my ability to ride in these downright awful conditions.
I’ve compiled a list of all the things I’m grateful for in summer, which as it turns out, is mainly just functional clothes. But they are oh-so important.
Not all breeches are created equally. OK, so I’m a hunter rider mostly, and have grown up in Tailored Sportsmans. While I do love my TS, they are almost unbearable to ride in during the summer. Sure, they stretch more than they used to thanks to new fabric technology, but they are just too stinkin’ hot and not nearly breathable enough. I’m also a fan of my forever durable SmartPak Pipers, but they too get weighed down with sweaty thighs and often cause chaffing. (TMI? Sorry.)
So come peak summer, I upgrade to my SmartPak Hadley breeches, which are wonderfully light and airy. The fabric stretches every which way and stays in place, whether you need a belt or not (no chaffing FTW!). They fit true to size (thank God) and are moisture-wicking. SmartPak is so smart, they even made them stain and water resistant.
Luv u Sun shirts 4 eva. OK, sun shirts aren’t new by any means, but they are a frickin’ lifesaver. I tend to prefer Equi In Style sun shirts, which come in a wide variety of colors and with beautiful lace mesh under-arms if you want to be fancy. I prefer EIS because of the grip of the material at my wrists — they don’t slide around and don’t require a loop around my thumb. I’ve completely soaked myself with the hose after a ride before (it felt too good not to do it) and my EIS shirt dried out in just minutes.
Say no to skin cancer. Get the EquiVisor. I’ll admit it, at first I thought the EquiVisor trend was stupid. These wide-brimmed additions to helmets make us look like aliens. It took me a few rides to get comfortable with my new field of vision with the visor, but ever since then, I haven’t looked back. My goal is to age gracefully, and not look like a shriveled, old-leather raisin in 10 years’ time, and the EquiVisor will help me in that endeavor. It shields my entire face from the sun. Definitely still swear sun screen, though.
The girls need support in the heat, too. How many bras have you ruined in record time because you’ve sweat through them one too many times? *crickets* No one? Well, let me be the first to tell you this can actually happen. Invest in a properly ventilated, but super supportive, sports bra for the summertime. Something that is easy to peel off your stinky, wet body at the end of the day, instead of becoming mangled when trying to remove the damp, gross-smelling contraption. I prefer brands like Nike and Under Armour, but there are some great ones out there just for riders, too.
Non-slip Reins are a MUST. There’s nothing worse than not being able to maintain proper feel because your fingers keep slipping on your horse’s sweat, which is lathering into your reins. My absolutely favorite pair of reins to school (and to show) in are “In Horse We Trust” reins. You can literally light them on fire and they won’t melt. I’m not kidding. (They sent me a lighter to try it myself!) But whether you ride in gloves or not, these reins are the most grippable I’ve ever personally used. Plus they have easy-to-set stoppers so you can personalize them for each horse you ride.
Add Gatorade, La Croix, 100 spf sunscreen and some heavy-duty DEET bug spray, and you’re ready to take on the world (or Florida in summer).