Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Woe of Winter - Gloves

I hate winter. I've mentioned this fact HERE and HERE and pretty much every post during the months of January and February for the last three years. The only thing nice about winter is one very specific kind of snow that falls in big, soft, slow, silent flakes that makes everything seem like it's in a beautiful and quiet sort of slow motion. Everything else just plain sucks.

***Just a note that this barn is INFINITELY better insulated than my last barn. I know for a fact that they've had solid frozen buckets in my former barn for weeks and we have yet to see more that a slight crystallization on the tops of the buckets overnight in our barn. Usually my winter included thawing, dumping and refilling my buckets each day and worrying sick on the days that I couldn't make it out that He wouldn't have water. Max's Mom and I would trade off days when we could. We'd also end up doing some of the lesson horses buckets on the weekends when no one else was there because the feeders wouldn't actually dump buckets, only break the shell with a hammer, so when they were frozen solid they were just frozen. And that barn leaked like you wouldn't believe. But I won't continue on that rant. We are so very pleased with our new digs and the very attentive care Junior receives including changing his blankets for appropriate temperatures at no extra cost. Such a relief to be getting what I'm paying for!!!***

But back to the Woe part: I have a difficult time staying warm if the temp is below freezing. I have to take winter dressing very seriously and have had to invest a lot in warm clothing. Target carries a knock-off of Under Armour in their Champion C4 line. Turns out to be the best thing EVER. On a normal day lately I wear the Cold Gear mock-turtleneck and leggings, jeans, either wool or super fuzzy microfiber socks, Mountain Horse Ice Rider Paddock boots, a thermo fleece zip up, a down vest, and a Mountain Horse Inferno Jacket. On my head is a cheap fleece cap I bought for 50 cents at JoAnn Fabrics and then cut a pony-tail hole in it. This way I can pull the hat down far enough to cover my ears. Brilliant, I must say. My helmet has ear home-made warmers attached to it. (Eventual tutorial on that.) My toes and especially fingers are still very difficult to keep warm.

I recently learned that I have a vascular condition, which explains a lot. (Only KAT seemed to wear more layers than I, but she was the skinniest thing I've ever seen and she would teach in that uninsulated arena for 8-10 hours every day. Each spring she would shed her Carhardts and I would remember with a double-take that she was actually a size zero. That's her on the right. This was the winter before Junior, so I'm riding the dear old Nubbins.)
This condition means essentially that if left in cold temperatures long enough 2/3 of my fingers from the tips down become white, numb, and very painful. It's referred to as "an annoyance" rather than a severe issue but it is highly recommended that those with the "phenomenon" should not live in cold climates and should wear mittens rather than gloves. BUT IT'S REALLY HARD TO RIDE IN MITTENS!!!!

I have been on a 3 year search for gloves that accomplish 3 things:
1. Warm enough not to set off my aforementioned condition.
2. Provide enough dexterity to be able to work the necessary buckles and tools of grooming and tacking. (Removing mittens to do those things is tedious and that burst of cold commonly causes an episode.)
3. Actually fit my absurdly short hands. I wear children's sized mittens. :)

Aparently what I ask for is vexingly elusive. I bought a pair of Ovations the first winter at EquusNow for I think $35. Then miraculously found the exact same pair at my University's Thrift Store for $4 last winter. They only seem to last one winter and both pairs are retired during the deep winter, so I don't think I want more of those, at least not at that price. This year I'm wearing a pair of "Defender Rider" leather and 40g Thinsulate gloves I got for $5 on clearance from Dover. They were just so cheap I threw them in with an order I made last summer. They don't fit as well as the Ovations with the stretch panels did. I've been having to put Grabber Warmers in them along with silk glove liners. The only problem with that is it's costing me $1 every time I go to the barn. It adds up after a while, and my fingertips are still cold.

I spent a good while at Dicks Sporting Goods today looking for gloves. Even the thin little Under Armour ones are $50. NOTHING I found actually fit and I was afraid nothing would be warm enough. Now that I know I actually have a condition I know I'm not crazy that gloves are never warm enough for me.

Before Christmas during some extensive interweb searching, I found the SHE System Gloves which I think is exactly what I need. They are a set of gloves and over-mittens made for female hunters, hence the real-tree camo. I love that the mitten part can either be removed, or be held back by magnets so it'll be easy to go from the mitten for standing around quickly to useful fingers and back again.

But of course they were on infinite back order at I even stopped at a Cabelas in Minnesota to see if they carried them in the store... That store freaked me out. There was a mountain in the middle with a bunch of sad, dusty, faded taxidermied animals. It was disturbing. Taxidermy doesn't freak me out, in fact my Dad was quite an accomplished critter-stuffer once upon a time, and I still have a fondness for a particular Canada goose mount I named George when I was a kid. It was just that these were in terrible condition. There was a huge skylight above them and it seems nobody thought about making it UV blocking glass...

After more web searching and searching I found them in stock but for nearly double what they were at Cabela's at some random site called "Modern Markswoman". It took a good while to convince myself that it's okay to purchase something at a store who's logo is a bullet going through a rose. And they're camo, which is not exactly my style... And again, expensive gloves that don't work suck as much as cold hands. They might just LOOK warm and not be warm at all. It's hard to say. I might have to put the silk liners in them, too, but after spending $20 today on Grabbers to make my $5 gloves and $7 silk liners semi-sufficient......I'm willing to take a gamble and I ordered them. So no Starbucks for two months, but they're out of Gingerbread syrup anyway so oh well. *Sigh* At least I got free shipping. :) I sure hope they're a legit company and not just one of those web site fronts that just steals and sells people's credit card info. But I paid with Paypal and I was pleased to see I had a $20 balance which I had forgotten about, so maybe that's a good omen?

I'll certainly be doing a product review when I get them.
Below, just for fun, is Junior catching snowflakes on his tongue last winter.


  1. You might want to try these ones too, for when you're actually riding. I used to live somewhere equally cold and these kept me quite toasty, while still being able to hold onto the reins.

  2. I find that my glove woes are many too...I'm all about staying warm in winter! I simply have one pair of big insulated gloves, and several pairs of thinner goves when I need them.

    As for Cabela's, we actually have one about 10 minutes away from us (Hunting is pretty big in west viginia, surprisingly enough :P), and I agree that while it's a hunter's paradise, it is a little creepy with all the dead animal "exhibits."

  3. Haha. Boyfriend and I love Cabelas. Our house is filled with mounts (just very very nice ones done by a fantastic taxidermist). I like the Camo myself, but I also wear camo sweatshirts. haha. Hope those gloves work, and cant wait to read the review

  4. I have huge issues with my fingers going numb and being extremely painful in the cold, due to frostbite a few years ago. I wear under armour gloves to ride in. They're thin enough to not be too bulky to ride and work buckles in, but are not good for texting, lol. Also they don't keep me warm enough if I'm doing something like bringing horses in, since they're not waterproof.. but for just riding they're great and keep me very warm.

  5. Hi I finally made it through all of the catch up of old posts. I ran across your blog a few months ago and have been reading forward for a while. You are a great writer by the way and find the openness and candor refreshing and appreciate the fact that you do not get bogged down in so much of the bad that is attached to the horse world.

    Anyways I am from WI land of -20 quite regularly in the last few weeks and I have found I love goat skin gloves with thinsilate liners. For some reason the goat skin seems to be warmer than just about everything else. I even have a pair of unlined ones that I use and stay quite warm in until the coldest of days. Anyways I get mine at the local tractor supply store and love them to death as they cost under $20. Not really sure if they would really make that much of a difference over the others but thought I would share.

    Right now we pretty much do not ride as money or lack of it forced us to move to a stable without an indoor. Sigh... They feed great, have nice fences, are friendly, take good care of our 2 horses, and we have 500acres to trail ride on and a decent outdoor but below zero is just too cold for me.