Heading off on a hot riding holiday? 11 tips for keeping cool

If you’re heading off on a horse riding holiday in warmer climes this summer, Briony Reed shares 11 things you need to keep in mind before you go…

It’s 37°, the sun is shining, you have your hard hat and long boots on, you’re about to head out for a fabulous, challenging hour of dressage instruction — and you’re more acclimatised to the Great British Summer. What could possibly go wrong?

Glorious though it is to see the sun, on the few occasions that we get body-temperature type readings on the thermometer in the UK, the temptation is to go for a hack. It’s far too hot for schooling, right? Not so in balmier climes; they’re made of tougher stuff there. So, what’s the best approach for those of us unaccustomed to such meteorological luxury? Here are some handy hints:

1. Sunscreen. And shedloads of it. Ok so only your arms and face will be exposed, but you’ll feel the burn through Factor 50 soon enough in serious sun. Slap it on.

2. The right colour and fit of top. Light-coloured polo shirts are your friend. Air will circulate in them, they’ll reflect the sun, and they won’t show the sweat. A win all round.

3. Soak your hair with water as cold as you can bear just before you put your hat on (and no, don’t dry it first).

4. Time of day. If you’re vulnerable to sunstroke, ask to ride early, or indoors in the afternoon, on the hottest days. And don’t be British and stoical about it and tell yourself you’ll be fine when you know you might not be. You’ll only spent the evening feeling that wine might not be a good move. Fail.

5. Lightweight jods. Never realised how much difference these can make…

6. A lightweight, vented hat. Self-explanatory, this one. And no, no hat is not a good idea. A hot head is better than broken head.

7. A water wallah. Find a kind person who is prepared to hang about with a bottle of water for you for those explanatory breaks in a lesson. When all the water you’ve ever consumed in your life (or so it feels) has made a rapid exit via your pores, you’ll really appreciate it.

8. A forward going horse. It helps.

9. Hangovers. Avoid. Like the plague. I know; you’re on holiday. But it won’t look or feel pretty if you don’t. If you’re already dehydrated before you start, your cells will shrivel, your brain will boil and your limbs will turn to jelly. Trust us.

10. Talcum powder. We won’t go into too many details with this one, but suffice to say that hot sweaty skin, clothing seams and movement are not happy bedfellows. Make like your granny and cover yourself in the stuff before getting dressed to ride. It’s silky smooth and lovely!

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11. Multiple items of all the above clothing. Once you’ve worn an outfit for one ride in serious heat, you won’t want to wear it again. Or, indeed, share living space with it.