I consider myself to be pretty tolerable of cold weather, but if my hands or feet start getting cold, especially when they reach the point of being painful then being outside just isn’t fun anymore. Bulky gloves will keep you warm, but around the barn you still need some amount of dexterity to work snaps, open gate latches, and fasten buckles.
Therefore a good pair of gloves that provide warmth and still allow dexterity are essential! I have been through quite a number of gloves and have used everything from the $2 a pair “magic gripper” gloves to the $50 winter SSG gloves. Here is what I like and dislike about different types of gloves.
My favorite is always leather as I find they stay soft and comfortable, have a bit of water resistance, and don’t get as nasty and smelly after getting dirty at the barn (the leather just doesn’t hold the odor like fabrics do). One downside of leather is that it is very important to get a good fit. Fabrics will stretch, but get the wrong size in leather gloves and they will be uncomfortably tight or feel awkwardly too big. My favorites are the plain deer skin leather gloves, and I get the ones with a fleece lining for winter. The softer they feel new, the easier they will break in and the more comfortable they will be to wear. There are many brands out there, but my consistent favorite have been the tough mate gloves. They are usually priced in the mid $20 range.
I find these simple deer skin gloves to be plenty warm in temps above 15 or 20, and even colder if I’m moving and using my hands. They are very versatile, though, because I also use them in Spring and Fall when I just need protection for my hands depending on the type of work I’m doing (like stacking hay bales). Hay doesn’t stick to leather, a big plus. I can’t stand how itchy fabric gloves can be after working with hay and shavings. Leather gloves provide natural grip, so that’s an added benefit for work, and I really like the “feel” that leather provides with the reins when riding.
Any glove that is too thick will make the reins feel awkward in your hands, so the only time that I wear a heavily insulated glove is when I am going to be out for an extended period in very low temperatures or if I am working in snow. Even then, I prefer to just carry a second set of leather gloves and swap out when the first pair gets too wet.
Most of the cheaper fabric gloves I simply don’t like, they don’t hold up, don’t fit me well, and get dirty very quickly.
There are a few nice technical riding gloves out there but I haven’t tried enough to really recommend a specific brand, and while these are great for riding, I am never just riding when I go to the barn, so I need a more versatile glove that can hold up to mucking stalls, throwing hay, etc.
As I mentioned before, Tuff Mate has been my favorite brand, so I put several links below if you happen to know your size. I wear a size 6 women’s glove.