Heat teamed with humidity is my Krytonite. I hid under AC for years. Here’s how I learned to enjoy/tolerate/endure summer without living in a bubble. And yes, it involves horses.
But first, go read Part 1, if you haven’t yet.
To solve a problem? Apply horse.
My plan to build strength by riding in the summer months revealed its shortcomings on my first riding lesson on the first hot morning in June 2013 when I was riding at Triangle A Stables. I had to dismount early, pass the reins to my instructor Christine, then stagger over to sit on the mounting block:
She and other staffers at the lesson barn gave me the following suggestions:
Switch to evening or mornings
The sun isn’t as hot. In 2013, I rode just before sundown. Last year, I rode in the morning, but more toward mid-morning. This year, I’ve returned to evening lessons.
Drink lots of water. Several glasses or bottles worth, and keep them coming. I also recommend hydrating the day before. Seriously. Pound it down.
You can tolerate a porta pottie if you inhale before going inside and then exhale all the while you’re there. Also, don’t look down. Everything you need – paper, hand sanitizer – is at eye level and toward the front of the structure. Porta potties are one of the things I put up with only for horses, ya know?
Wear wicking fabrics
Conventional wisdom advises all-natural fibers like cotton or linen. Christine recommended special summer riding clothes. Finding safe and proper riding attire in my size isn’t easy, although I do spring for Stickyseats. (BTW, I still work pretty hard on my seat, even though they are considered “a cheat.” I don’t plan to compete in the Olympics or ride in serious horse shows. I ride for fitness, fun, and “horsey time.” So, I’m wearing the gosh-darned Stickyseats.)
Margaret, the barn manager at Triangle A, recommended I buy men’s wicking or cooling golf shirts because they’re cheaper, especially at the region’s closeout store Ocean State Job Lot. Look for the words “performance fabric” and “wicking” on the tags. I also wear men’s running tees in performance fabric.
Keep in mind that “performance fabrics” also need a special laundering, a sports detergent found in sporting goods departments, but no fabric softener. I’ve read regular detergents leave residues that ruin the performance of the fabric, let alone allow body odors may remain. They’re pricey, but I can get more wear out of my investment in bargain riding attire.
Just after the Father’s Day holiday in June, clothing made of summery performance fabrics go on sale at the nice sporting goods stores. I also found some at the discount, close-out stores. The sleeveless shirt you see with our dismembered model in Part 1 is a ladies golf shirt from Target.
BTW, any link to a product you see below is not a so-called affiliate link for me, although it will take you to a product page. Although there are affiliate links elsewhere on this blog, they’re not in this post. These links are for illustration purposes only. Enjoy!
My instructor Christine recommended cooling caps which you soak in cold water and then place on top of your head under the helmet. A charged, wet cooling cap feels delicious, especially if you have the luxury of not worrying about a hair style or are wearing a hat anyway, especially a vented riding helmet.
You can find cooling caps such as the one pictured at left in the sporting goods stores or sporting goods department of your favorite discount store.
I’d send you to CoolMedics for a cooling cap, but that’s not an option anymore, unless you find one on eBay or on another riding equipment website. I have a cooling cap I ordered years ago from CoolMedics, which I keep in a cooler with ice next to the ring in case I need a fresh cap. That cooler also holds a bottle of water.
They work like the cooling caps, except you drape them around your neck after activating the cooling process by dunking them in water.
Some look like thin neck scarves, giving you the scout leader look. That’s the kind I wear while riding because I can knot them to stay on while riding.
Others look like towels draped over your neck giving you the working choreographer look which might be too lose for riding a moving horse.Froggtoggs makes some cooling scarves and other items. One of my mystery writer pals swears by her cooling scarf of this variety.
Cooling caps and scarves are all fine and dandy for active sporty looks. But what if you’re headed to a summer garden wedding or a soiree in Saratoga during race season? Check out Part 1 over on my so-called “author blog.”
How do you stay cool in the summer heat? Feel free to add your suggestions below.
Very big “thank you’s” and eternal gratitude to