What Northern Cowgirls Wear in Winter

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With all this cold winter weather I wondered what some of my favorite tough cowgirls wear for wintertime feeding. I decided to ask them, and layers, layers ,and then one more layer seems to be a common denominator for these cowgirls working in the winter cold feeding their livestock.

For me, Lynn Kohr of Kohr Quarter Horses, Gillette WY, goose down has been my go to these past two winters. I have a thin shell for a close to the body layer (over thick long johns) then a thicker layer that is windproof for an outer layer. I wear bib overalls over my long johns and goose down under layers. I always wear wool socks and warm Bog Boots(rated to -25). On my hands, I wear medium weight tech gloves and if it’s really cold I can wear mittens over them. I also wear a Baklava (hat and neck warmer) with a silk scarf underneath.  I can pull the baklava up to my goggles to protect against our winds. On the High Plains, we have lots of wind, so even moderate temperatures feel bitter with any wind, and REALLY cold with much wind!

Rusty Rae Quam , Wainwright Alberta, of Rusty Rae Quam Barrel Horses.  Rusty Rae is a barrel racing trainer, breeder and jockey, plus co-owner of Dale Woodard Bucking Horses. She and her husband raise some of the best bucking horses in the industry, known as the Dale Woodward Bucking Horses.winter

Rusty tells me, “Just -30 this morning so I put on long underwear, a light coverall over my jeans, long sleeve heavier shirt under a hoodie, vest, and heavy jacket. In my gloves I use hot packs that stay warm for 8 hours and I put hot pack insoles in my boots also. Can’t live without my scarf! I don’t wear much over my face cause the steam comes up from when I breath and freezes my eyes shut…And a double lined toque on my head!” She laughs saying, “it’s a process to get dressed!”


No kidding, and at these crazy cold temperatures plus being out for extended times to feed her barrel horses and their whole string of bucking horses, takes thoughtful dressing!

Bundled up she heads outside to chop ice holes for their bucking horse string. Rusty said, (this morning) “Had to make a new water hole this am for the studs. Over 2 feet of ice…”



Keeping warm in the Canadian Winters takes lots of layers and some other level of toughness. As Rusty Rae Quam jokes, “Well, I don’t have to have a membership to a gym, it’s quite the workout!” Caring for her horses is passionate for Rusty, she bundles up many months out of the year!

Mykal Kirkpatrick, of The Ray Bacon Ranch between Wisdom and Wise River, MT (in the far South East corner of MT.) Mykal replied to my question of how do you dress to go feed?winter

“-18 this am, not too cold, as we missed the nasty weather.” Mykal tells me, “This is an older picture. The coat is one that my husband Dennis’ s Grandma Nettie gave me. It was his Grandpa Ray’s and came from the Montgomery Ward catalog, years ago.” It’s very warm and goes with her every trip out feeding. “The old parka is great when the wind is blowing, but hard to pitch hay with it on,” Mykal explained. “We wear wool pants…they are warmer and lighter than Carhartts. We also keep these parkas on each of the sleighs with us. They came from Dennis’  dad and uncle from when they worked on the Alaskan pipeline.”


 “I have a lot of trouble keeping my feet warm, but the best thing is a pair of regular socks with a pair of the rag wool socks over them. It seems like if it doesn’t itch it’s not going to be warm!!”winter

“These beauties are military issue mickey boots. You blow them up with air and they are the warmest. I have actually mastered riding in these things!” Mykal explains,“It used to be that we found boots to ride in the stirrups we wanted…now we’re old enough we find stirrups to accommodate the boots!!”

“I usually wear a pair of leather chopper mittens with knitted wool liners. I have a lady in town that still likes to knit so she keeps me stocked up. We also keep at least three pair of regular gloves on our hayracks. They aren’t as warm, but it’s hard to pitch hay with mittens on. I have the gentler teams, so I can adjust my lines in mittens and drive with them on.”

Layering keeps Mykal working out in extreme conditions. She has a toughness that matches her many layers of clothing, mixed in with the kindest soul ever!

Darae Larson, Belt MT

Its -25 this morning and Darae heads outside all winter bundled up to feed their horses and 350 head of cows. She layers (with several layers) with wool socks, Under Armour long johns, spandex long sleeve cotton T-shirt then an Under Amour half zipper pull over. She then puts ski pants or insulated pants on last. Darae explains. “Of course, I always wear my warm Muck Boots with liners and if I have to ride far, I have insulated cowboy boots that I wear also with liners.”  She wears her (old, old) Eddie Bauer Down Coat and a band on around her neck that can also be pulled up to protect her face. “I do have trouble with gloves, “she explains, “I usually wear ski gloves that are wind and water resistant. If its really cold (as if -25 isn’t) I have hand warmers with me.” winter

And out the door she goes, with a huge smile, always looking forward to feeding, even on the coldest mornings. She’s no stranger to extreme winter weather and dressing for it.

What do you wear when feeding in the bitter cold of winter?

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life, Uncategorized

About Lynn Kohr

I am a barrel and pole horse trainer, giving springtime barrel racing and pole bending clinics and workshops, competing in barrel racing and pole bending futurities while marketing our horses for sale. I am a Mom of 3: Sage, Cedar, and Stratton. And wife of...

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