Maybe it’s just my imagination, but the tempo of enquiries about “What’s it like in Tryon?” seems to have increased over the past month. These queries are all coming from dressage friends I left north of the Mason-Dixon Line when we retired to North Carolina three years ago. My first winter here I sneered when anyone complained about the cold—they start to whine when they actually have to zip up their coats. As my Yankee blood thins, however, I seem to have joined that chorus.
Back in my newspapering days, there used to be an automatic banishment of certain story leads and headlines each season, along the lines of “Yes Virginia, there is a . . .” or “in Spring, a young man’s fancy turns to . . . .” So, if I hear one more newscaster say “the winter of our discontent,” in the next week I will scream, especially since it’s unlikely they can cite the Shakespeare play that it came from (“Richard III”) or know the actual reference has nothing to do with weather.
Not that I have any right to complain, because the winter they’re talking about is someone else’s winter, which leads me to one of the biggest differences I have noticed between living a horsey lifestyle in the North and the South. In the North, they have indoor arenas. In the South (and other warmish climes like California), they have covered arenas.
When I first considered moving here, I called Jennifer Baumert who’d been in the area for six years after moving from New England. I was concerned about summer heat. Jennifer said she was actually more comfortable riding here in the summer than she was before in Connecticut. The difference in summer comfort level (besides being tucked into the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains here) is the difference between indoor and covered arenas.
In the North, they have indoors, which are needed for protection from snow and cold but are completely enclosed and thus stifling in the summer. Northern riders stay mostly outside in the summer, dealing with reflected heat from sand arenas, sunburn and bugs. I haven’t seen a single indoor arena here. Our covereds have just a roof and kick rail and thus are pretty comfy year round. They provide protection from the direct sun and the open sides usually direct a nice breeze. Yes, when it gets really rainy and windy, we might longe instead of ride, but it’s not that often. In the summer, I no longer automatically apply sunscreen before I get dressed, and one jug of fly spray can pretty much carry me through the season.
That picture shown here? It was taken our first January in North Carolina. If you don’t believe me, note my mare’s trace clip. She has a full clip this winter since she’s down in Florida, where I’ll be joining her next week. The weather, like that grass being greener, does always seem better somewhere else.