A hazy sort of freezing mist hung in the air around the trailer where the horses were tied, fully harnessed and hitched to their partners waiting to hook on to the big bobsleds for a day of wagon rides. It was a damp, inhospitable day, but there were still plenty of people lined up waiting for their ride — so it was time for us to bundle up, now that the horses were ready. I reached into the back of my car and folded my new Arctic Horse riding skirt around my waist, zipping it right on over my jeans. The old-timers in our draft horse club watched me critically, no doubt wondering what crazy thing the sole lady driver would do next.
“What in God’s name is that?” one of them called across the parking lot.
“It’s a skirt, gentlemen,” I replied smugly, zipping the skirt all the way down before untying my team.
And what a skirt it is: the Outlander Wool Riding Skirt from Arctic Horse might just be the coolest piece of riding apparel I’ve added to my wardrobe, ever. After all, there are only so many ways to reinvent a riding coat… but this? Arctic Horse’s riding skirts are truly innovative, targeting a unique need in the horse industry while looking totally gorgeous. Yes, as it turns out, you can have it all.
Arctic Horse makes a variety of riding skirts in short and long lengths, all sewn in Alaska by an all-women team. Most of the materials are American-sourced. Depending on your individual needs and tastes, there’s a huge variety of skirts to choose from: I went with the classic, timeless look, durability and warmth of (humanely-sourced) wool in the Outlander Riding Skirt. Lined with recycled micro-fleece, the Outlander is serious about keeping one warm.
The Outlander zips open up the front, meaning that one can easily wrap it right around themselves without needing to remove boots or struggle with multiple layers. Snaps provide additional closure for windbreak, with fleece-lined pockets serving as the perfect spot to warm one’s hands or stash gloves. With the adjustable zipper, the skirt can be worn totally closed (for things like running errands or driving the team) or opened as far as you like for working around the farm or riding.
Snaps hold the skirt up out of the way while working around the horse or mounting so hands can stay free, and leg elastics (attached with a snap for quick release) hold the skirt in place for windy days or fast riding. Belt loops can house a belt, including various belt-mounted accoutrements (for me, that’s a knife and a cell phone case, both of which I’ve needed in multiple situations around our working farm). It’s safe to say that as a horsewomen-owned company, Arctic Horse thought of pretty much everything.
In the saddle, the Outlander skirt lays over the haunches of my horse, serving as a quarter sheet which is particularly useful on cold, snowy days — aka, most of my typical winter up here in the snow belt. I like to try to keep my horses relatively covered and dry while riding in the winter, both for their comfort and for the most efficient use of my time in post-ride grooming. The Outlander skirt also keeps my legs covered and warm, meaning that I no longer have to fool around with both a quarter sheet AND chaps on a cold, snowy day. There’s nothing worse than getting back to the barn in a pair of cold, wet jeans from riding in the snow, but that’s now a thing of the past.
My driving student Chloe kindly came out to take photos for this review, and I let her hop on a horse for a few moments in thanks… and popped her into the skirt as well. She fell in love and I had to make sure she didn’t sneak home still wearing it — but especially on a bareback horse, she noted that it helped contain the horse’s body heat to keep both of them warm on their amble around the field. On a day where the wind chill made it feel like a brisk 9 degrees, that kept everyone comfortable and happy!
Arctic Horse skirts are made to order, and customers are encouraged to take careful measurements to ensure they get the size that works best — especially if you plan to wear the skirt over jeans as opposed to breeches or leggings. The Outlander skirt is $299, which is certainly a bit of an investment, but should also last me a lifetime with care.
If you’re an all-seasons rider, you can’t go wrong investing in an Arctic Horse skirt. I personally love the classic, traditional style of the Outlander skirt — also, because I really like feeling like a combination of Annie Oakley and Lady Stark of Winterfell — but there are a ton of options available at the Arctic Horse website depending on your riding conditions and specific needs.
Go riding — no matter what the weather!