When you enter the equine industry you rapidly learn about chilblains the hard way. No one forewarns you, and they’re the untold sacrifice equestrians make for their profession.
During my first winter as an apprentice I succumbed to chilblains on my outer thigh. Looking like great purple bruises, it took me a while to find out what they were, and then I found that every other member of staff suffered the same plight! These purple circles became raised bumps and started itching when I got home and warmed up.
Once I knew that I had these chilblains I wore my full length chaps constantly, but it took all winter for them to dissipate.
The following winter I was more prepared and wore two pairs of trousers from the first gust of north wind. I still got chilblains but no where near as severely.
Last year I didn’t get a single chilblain. I was very proud of myself; a combination of thermal leggings, thick jodhpurs, and long chaps had done the trick. So I took this method forwards to this winter, at one point riding in thermal leggings, jodhs and jeans, to reduce the wind chill factor on my legs, which is the triggering factor.
I thought I’d survived again this winter. Until last week. I came home and found three huge chilblains on the outside of my right thigh (it’s always the right one. Anyone would think I stood with my right side to the wind!). These were pretty vicious ‘blains and now I’m having to overdress again so that they heal.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to buy some new over trousers. I have two pairs of jeans which are now too big for me so I use them as over trousers on dry days, and I have my old school tracksuit trousers which are a bit thicker, and of course my full length chaps. These are waterproof, well were waterproof, but I hate how my bum gets cold in them and how if it’s raining my lap gets soaked while I ride! So I’ve splashed out and bought some over trousers with a suede seat for riding, and honestly they are like putting on a sleeping bag – so thick and snug! I’m now feeling less apprehensive about the coming storm!
Anyway, a word of warning to any aspiring grooms – don’t let your thighs get cold and wet because chilblains really aren’t very attractive!