Riding distances much over ten miles you begin to realize that clothing matters. No, I'm not talking about color coordination (that is an entirely different discussion and you may not want to have it with me as I'd lead you into the bizarre and strange...). I'm talking not only about critical things like the fit of your bra, panties, the toe room in your boots, but the seams of your clothing that come into contact with skin. Your clothes take on an "exciting" new meaning when suddenly you have chafing and with each stride the horse takes a misery ensues that is nearly indescribable. One of my longer rides of thirty miles at this point in our distance attempts I was chafed and I thought I'd have to pack it in at the halfway. I've ridden with a broken finger, and it was easier than riding with a chafed inner leg. Any clothing you plan to use at a competition, pre-ride at home. Pre-ride with enough distance that you can at least predict the outcome. Take an extra pair of well-worn riding tights along to change into during the hold should you need them. Or better yet, just ride the ride wearing that extra pair of well-worn riding tights.
Things to think about.
Size matters. Are you big busted? If so you might want to wear a sports bra (or two) for extra support from all that trotting. Now this is just hear say, but I'm told it can be very uncomfortable to be unsupported during all that bounce. Small busted? You might actually prefer no under garment, to go "commando" though I would rather be dragged through thorny cacti than exit the house without a bra! Padding? Some people swear by padded tights. Personally I tried it, and I hate it as the sweaty stuff tends to kind of bunch, but not everyone out sweats their horse. I do. Your riding boots can really cause you trouble. Numb feet (my current dilemma), and toe nails that fall off (my previous dilemma). I cured the toe nail thing by purchasing my boots a half size bigger. You should be able to freely wiggle your toes in the boot. When I sort out the cure for numb feet....I'll let you all know!
Application of a product. Their are glide on sticks that will make your clothing less likely to chafe the skin. Some examples are Body Glide a stick, and Monistat which is powdery slick substance that squeezes out of a tube. I use the Monistat religiously on the inside of my knee where I contact the saddle skirting and along seam areas. I've not had a chafing issue since I started using it. Use these products in places that tend to rub, or places where sweaty skin tends to stick together such as under your boobs! These products should also work well for the men's delicate areas as well (to that I cannot swear).
Weather. Though we often set out dressed for the weather sometimes mother nature throws us a few curves. You can start out dry and it starts to rain, do you have a lightweight poncho in your saddle bags? Is your horse used to the rustling sound it will make, and how it may billow in the wind? Being wet causes all kinds of issues including hypothermia, and chafing. One will make you sore, the other can make you dead! In changeable climate you will want to wear layers and adjust those layers for the moment you are in. For cold weather wool and silk make great under layers, avoid cotton in cold wet conditions it is easy to remember, both begin with a "c". Pair your cold weather under layers with your winter tights. In the heat, you can only strip down so much (at least legally). You can however get by with a tank top and shorts if you cover your leathers and seat with merino sheepskin . I'm waiting for the day someone makes a flat seamed summer tight that resembles a biking short. Preferably black trimmed in zebra *wink*. Summer weather brings on those nasty biting flies in the Midwest. I like Deep Woods Off to repel them from me, and spray it on my hands and rub Journey's ears and poll with it, and then spray her fly bonnet heavily with it and put that on her too. It's worked pretty well so far. When the flies are biting, pick up the pace. The little blood suckers are only geared to fly so fast.
The bottom line though is comfort. If you manage to look pretty at the same time, I tip my Da Brim to you...I always look like I've been dipped in sweat and rolled in a dust heap. Speaking of Da Brim, those nifty helmet visors help protect your eyes, face, and neck for damaging rays from the sun. Sunscreen works great if you are not allergic as I am. Sleeves work in a pinch but make me tend to over heat. Cold water soaked bandanas I hear are cooling, as are the Cool Medics vests (which neither of may work well in areas of heat and high humidity). Try to ride wearing the clothes you will compete in so you don't get a nasty surprise on ride day.
Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Favorite Links for training, gear, and memberships!
- National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering
- HOW TO CMO
- What is CMO?
- Old Dominion Endurance Rides
- Renegade Hoof Boots
- Riding vs. Racing a discussion with the Duck.
- Trumbull Mountain's INTRO TO ENDURANCE RIDING
- Principles of Conditioning
- Conditioning the endurance horse by SERA
- Short Article: Feeding & Training the Endurance Horse
- Feeding the Endurance Horse, Swedish Author
- Preventing Dehydration In the Endurance Horse, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association
- Jim Holland's fantastic training links here!
- South Eastern Distance Rider's Association