Socks and Gloves? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 02-13-2020, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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Question Socks and Gloves?

So I'm fairly new to the equestrian world and I'll be starting riding lessons in a month or so. I have a few questions about socks and gloves that I was hoping someone more experienced could help me out with.

In regards to socks...
How important is it that I wear riding/boot socks? Would any socks work? If they are necessary, is it better to purchase them from an equestrian clothing store? Or will any pair of thin/tight socks suffice?

And in regards to gloves...
Is it better to ride with gloves? I feel like it doesn't look like it makes too much of a difference, but then again, I don't know much.
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post #2 of 13 Old 02-13-2020, 01:48 PM
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I asked the person at Dover why it was so important that I buy special socks for riding, and in my opinion the answer I got was ridiculous. The best argument they had was that thin socks are better for boot fit, but IMO that really depends on the socks, the person, and the boots. I wear thick wool socks in the winter (because it's COLD) and thick cotton or thin wool socks in the summer (because I like natural fabric) and have never had one problem.

I have heard that some horses really try to pull their heads out of your hands all the time, and that people who ride them need gloves because otherwise the reins will rub their hands. I've never ridden one of those horses. I only wear gloves (thin wool) if the weather warrants it. I do think they look snazzy, but I don't show so I don't need to look snazzy.

For ground work, especially with hot horses, I have seen people recommend wearing gloves, in case of a lead rope mishap. But again I don't have one of those horses so I don't.

"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
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post #3 of 13 Old 02-13-2020, 02:31 PM
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Can wear any kind of socks you want, but many use "boot socks" just because they are taller. I like a medium thickness just so it works year round.

Gloves I always wear, and has nothing to do with the horse really. Just I rode Dressage for so many years, and gloves are always worn at shows. I just feel naked without gloves, because I am used to wearing them.

I am an RN, and am constantly putting on and taking off gloves! So gloves feel more natural to me.
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post #4 of 13 Old 02-13-2020, 02:50 PM
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Socks as long as they are tall enough prevent rubs and blisters. Gloves are personal choice. It depends on the horse, the weather and what we are doing for me. They can make it easier or harder to make adjustments depending on the material.
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post #5 of 13 Old 02-13-2020, 03:13 PM
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Any socks are fine.

I don't wear gloves generally except when it's too cold not to. Which it often is, where I live.

The various disciplines have various dress-up customs. Many of them made practical sense in the past (for example when Western was entirely about moving cows around in a harsh climate); some few still do (wear boots that have heels so your feet have a chance of not hanging up in a stirrup if you fall off). Otherwise it is show etiquette, social pressure, and equestrian clothing companies trying to stay in business.
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post #6 of 13 Old 02-13-2020, 03:36 PM
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As long as the socks are long enough to prevent boots from rubbing my ankles, I'll wear them - I don't own "riding socks" and in fact I had never really heard of such a thing until now, even having shown hunter/jumper for a long time. I agree with @ACinATX , "needing" thin socks for riding is ridiculous, I frequently had to double up with wool socks to survive Maine winters.

"Better" to ride with gloves is personal preference. I don't like wearing gloves unless I absolutely have to in the winter. I feel like I can get a lighter/more sensitive communication with the reins/horse's face when I can feel them directly. Other people like to wear gloves to prevent reins from slipping. Personally, I don't like wearing gloves for the reverse reason - I like being able to let the reins slide through my hands in a single smooth motion when the horse is asking to stretch down, whereas it's harder to do that with grippy gloves. Other people like to wear gloves just because they like to wear gloves, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I will say, however, that if you do decide to buy gloves, you probably will want to buy gloves meant for riding. They have specific grip spots where the reins are held. "Normal" gloves don't have that, and slippery material may actually make it very difficult to grip the reins at all when you need to.
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post #7 of 13 Old 02-13-2020, 04:42 PM
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Any sock will work, as long as it is high enough to be higher than the top edge of your boot. So, if you are wearing paddock boots, then practically any sock will work, except for the often worn anklets. Thick or thin depends on how your boots fit, same as any shoe.

Gloves are not necessary, certainly in the beginning.

But, they are nice to have, so go treat yourself.
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post #8 of 13 Old 02-13-2020, 05:28 PM
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I always wear gloves when Iím handling horses because I got a terrible burn from a lunge line once. The horse spooked, bolted towards the gate and I tried hanging onto the line. I did stop him but not before my fingers were thoroughly burned. It didnít take much at all. I even wear gloves when I walk my very athletic, very large dogs. They are well behaved but I like to put all available safety measures in place. Gloves are grippy so I reduce the chance of the leash slipping through my fingers in case of a sudden change in direction or speed.

I also hate it when my hands are dirty or dusty so there is that too.
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post #9 of 13 Old 02-13-2020, 06:23 PM
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Usually, unless it's cold, I won't use gloves (unless I'm lunging a horse). That's if I'm riding western though. I think most western style riders only wear gloves if they're working or if it's cold out. I've ridden English too and I preferred wearing gloves then just because the way I held the reins was different and I found it more comfortable to use gloves then. My hands tend to get really dry easily and I'm sensitive to things that have a scratchy feel. I guess it's up to personal preference a bit and on what type of reins you're going to be handling. A basic pair of summer riding gloves is cheap and I'd only invest in winter riding gloves if you continue riding AND if you would want to continue training through winter (and also live in an area where the winters are mild enough to do that...I'm in an area in the midwest where it usually doesn't get so frozen and slippery here that it's still safe to ride out even in the middle of winter). Those really cushy rubber covered reins are probably more comfortable to work with than plain leather or web reins...web reins are really uncomfortable on bare hands to me. And also, to be honest, a lot of people wear gloves some of the time not because they really need them but because they want to insure their hands remain looking pretty--those manicures don't maintain themselves!

As far as socks, as long as your bare skin isn't touching any part of your boot then you're golden. As other people said the special boot socks are just marketing and any sock that's comfortable for you will do. I wouldn't want a boot so snug I wasn't able to wear double socks or thicker socks for winter. If you have to have a very thin sock in order to fit in the boots I think you probably would need a bigger size...

In the end though if you have a trainer already you could just talk to them about it and see what they recommend. It can be tempting when starting something new to want to get all the gear but most of the stuff you don't actually need.
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post #10 of 13 Old 02-13-2020, 06:36 PM
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Here's my .02 worth....

Socks...are you riding with breeches and tall boots?
Then yes, it can make a huge difference in fit if your boots are "snug" fitting...
In winter cold, I layered stretch silk socks, then a thin cotton sock followed by a thin wool sock and topped off by a knee-high stocking so all those layers have one covering to slip inside a boot. Layering adds warmth of air trapped.
If you are riding with paddock boots or low boots in a English saddle then use thicker knee socks so your inner calf not be pinched by the stirrup leather...ouch.
If you wear half-chaps over breeches or pants/jeans then the chaps do the protecting of the leg and a comfortable sock is needed that will protect you from chafing on the pant inside seam...
Breeches/jods are made special with a extra layer of material, synthetic or real leather patch to protect your inner leg from rubs, raw and sore skin occurring.
If you ride western then either wear western jeans made for riding which have no inside seam, and or invest in high knee-socks cause you still get rubs from leg movement in a western saddle too.

Bottom line is yes, wear higher socks like a knee sock to protect your legs from nasty pinches and bruises that indeed hurt!

As for gloves...
You ride with a gently closed hand and fingers so reins should not be being pulled through.
If your hands perspire a lot then reins can become slippery, gloves can help reduce slippery.
If you have a horse who hangs on the reins and your arms, gloves can give a bit of cushioning so a rein that is not "finished" with a softer edge not dig into your finger skin.
I myself ride with laced or plaited reins if not wearing gloves as lacing/plaiting of reins I find makes a big difference in a horse being able to pull reins through my fingers and less loss of rein occurs when grip is on my side if needed.
I do ride in gloves in summer cause my hands sweat, gloves offer me grip but also able to feel and communicate consistently with my riding partner.
I ride in leather gloves or a knit back with goatskin palm glove near always.
I do not use those stretchy knit pimple palmed things as they stretch to much for my liking but many do and enjoy them.
For a beginner rider...if you need to protect your hands from wear & tear, wear gloves truly helps when interacting with horses no matter the chore at hand.
Socks...if riding English it would be knee-socks always for me even under jeans to protect from seam rubs and raw skin occurring.
If breeches, then if in my tall boots it is a short sock and knee-highs so boots slip on as my boots are not zippered but high pull-on, form fitting customs.

That's my take on the gloves and socks dilemma.

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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