I'm thinking a lot about ways of keeping warm at the barn; I won't give up my weekly riding lessons just because it's getting colder! On the other hand, if I'm shivering and miserable, it will be hard to focus on instructions and that makes for a confused, unhappy horse. So what can I do to keep us both warm and comfortable?
First I made a quarter sheet for Imp, That's a blanket that extends all the way back to his tail, to keep his haunches warm. I used an old wool cloak I had appliqued a border onto and then decided wasn't really in period with my usual look, so it'd been hanging out in the closet. The cloth is a very heavy weight about a quarter inch thick.
|Imp helpfully swings his haunch away just as I snap the pic. But you get the idea.|
I tried to think of a way that I could wear the cloak around my waist or something, so it would drape over Imp's rump and also keep my legs warm, but everything I imagined ended up getting tangled or slipping sideways or interfering with movement. Then I had a thought -- chaps! Well, actually, short chaps called "chinks". They only come to the knee and are usually made of leather. I've been secretly wanting a pair for ages because I think they look neat, but they are rather the mark of a working cowboy and I felt like if I just wore them for looks, I'd be teased a bit. If I made some for myself from the leftover cloak pieces, they'd provide extra warmth just where I needed it, and they'd be attractive and useful.
In my leather stash, I pulled out a pair of tiny stirrup fenders I'd picked up for five bucks. They formed the top of my chinks and their straps made the belt part. I dyed them dark brown to match the rest of my gear and added some silver conchos just to be extra pretty.
I still need to finish up some rivets and stitching before they'll be ready to ride in, but I'm already imagining Imp and I trotting through a field of falling snow looking very sharp.
And then today at lunchtime, I whipped up a quick bit-warmer for Imp. It's widely advised that when it is cold, you should warm your horse's bit in your hands before putting it in his mouth. This sounds perfectly nice, but then my hands will be all cold from holding the metal! So I made a little pouch. I can put one of those hand-warmer packets in it (I usually keep some in my pockets when it's freezing out.) and wrap it around the bit while I put on Imp's saddle, and when I'm ready to put the bridle on, the bit will be all warmed up. I can take the wrap off and put it back in my pocket. No frosty fingers!
I'm always happy to find a use for wool scraps. Some hook-and-eye closures keep it snug around the bit while I saddle up. And the B monogram looks very sharp in red!