Things that sound delightful on a blustery winter day: 1) Snuggling up with a blanket, Earl Gray tea in hand and mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest.
Things that do not sound delightful on said blustery winter day: 1)Putting on fifty layers of clothing so that my physique resembles the likeness of the Michelin man. 2)Trudging out through the snow to de-ice my car and driving through a blizzard to get out to the barn. 3)Trudging through the snow, again, except this time to fetch my mare, who probably doesn’t really even want to see me anyways. 4)Bringing the grouchy mare into the frosty barn to tack up. 5)Riding and sweating, while simultaneously freezing.
How’s that for an inspirational speech? That snuggly blanket and Earl Gray tea is starting to sound pretty good right about now, isn’t it? Yes, I know, we didn’t decide to partake in this sport for the glamour or the comfortable lifestyle that it, eh, absolutely does not afford, but we chose it nonetheless. And most of the time, I willingly accept it all.
However, when the thermometer starts displaying single digits, sometimes the romance and the joys of horse ownership become a little less apparent. I would be kidding myself if I said that working up the motivation to go to the barn isn’t just plain hard. Add in that it might be too cold to even have a productive ride and its lost almost all of its appeal.
After a recent ride on my mare in the winter wonderland that is currently being referred to as “the Polar Vortex,” I was reminded of the reasons why my feet still carry me out to the barn, despite my winter survival instincts.
One of the perks of nasty weather is that my barn becomes noticeably quieter, and dare I say, peaceful? With many people unwilling to brave the cold, the only sounds are of horses quietly munching on hay or shifting in their stalls. There is also virtually no traffic in the arena. Hello unrestricted lateral movements, serpentines and changes of direction across the entire diagonal!
With no competitions in the immediate future, riding in the winter provides a chance for my horse and I to exhale. If my mare feels like she isn’t in a great emotional place to work, I can abort my mission and instead take a day to let her stretch on the lunge line- without feeling like I’m losing ground. Best of all, my horse tends to have her biggest, flashiest trot when she’s on edge from the nippy air.
In short, ride on winter weather warriors. Ride on.