Nov 30, 2009

My Top Ten

Those who know me well know that we are entering into what I believe to be the black hole of the seasons. The Winter Months. It’s dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home. The nights are so long. I’d simply like to curl up in an embryo position and sleep for three months or be abducted by aliens and have 3 months of lost time just to get it over with.

I am not a fair weather rider, per se. I have a pretty wide window of preferred temps – the low being the high 40’s to the high being the low 90’s. Wind chill factors and heat indexes often play into the factor, but generally, you will find me riding spring through fall. But when the ground is frozen and everything I touch is so cold it hurts, my riding comes to a near screeching halt. I know, I know. I’m a native Nebraskan. I should be thicker skinned. And I have to tell you; I think I used to be. But since getting into horses, I have found these next few months unacceptable to maintaining my hobby with the frequency that I prefer. And it makes me very cranky.

Before I pull the blanket over my head or get beamed up to the mothership, I am going to try to see the light. Rack my brain for ten horse related things that are good in the winter. Surely I can come up with 10. I’m thinking. Thinking…. Still thinking…

My Top Ten Reasons To Enjoy Winter

1. Jingle Bells. Putting them around the neck of my horse just doesn’t have the same festive affect on the 4th of July as it does when dashing through the snow. And we have and will again!

Okay. There. I came up with one good thing… One.

Seriously, I have been sitting here staring at the screen trying to come up with #2. It even crossed my mind to Google “winter riding” to help me out…

2. Fleece riding pants. I have a couple pair of Kerrit riding pants that are fleece lined and for obvious reasons, best worn during the “off” season. While I don’t necessarily feel attractive in breeches as they hide nothing, these riding pants are very soft and comfy and very, very warm and I'm half tempted to wear them grocery shopping on those cold days!

3. Farrier Expenses. Right or wrong, I just don’t have him out as often as I do during the riding months. That extra $100 can go to another cause... like the heating bill!

4. Automatic Waterer. It just sits there unnoticed during the good months. Providing clean water day after day after day; making no impression on anyone. But come winter, that little baby gets noticed and feels the love! I sure am thankful I am not filling tanks, running cords for heaters or breaking ice. Okay, I am probably stretching it putting that on the list, but those who have one knows it has earned it’s place!

One would argue that round bales should also feel the love. But they miss the list because they do have to be tended to every now and then and it usually is about the moment a blizzard rolls in and the tractor is out of gas!

5. Fewer Evil Eyes. You married women know “that look”. From The Husband. You catch your first glimpse of it on the first spring-like day when you pop downstairs in your riding gear and announce, “I’m going riding!” His eye squints, you swear you see a hint of smoke coming from his right ear and he lets out a long sigh because he thinks we should be tilling the garden or putting up a pole barn or some other menial task that you know he just happened to think up because he saw you hooking up the trailer an hour earlier!

6. Indoor Arena Riding. I’m not that fortunate to have an indoor arena. Gives me an excuse not to fetch and saddle my cold horse. But should the notion strike, I am fortunate enough to have a few friends who do have very nice arenas and invite me to take advantage of their facility when I am at the height of my withdrawals and ready to go over the edge.

7. Barn Smells. The good ones. Hay, horse breath, fur. The scents are all intensified in the crisp winter air.

8. Photos. Snow provides a new dynamic and, I must grudgingly admit, beauty to our pictures.

9. Riding Bareback. I’ll put it on the list because it is wonderful to feel the heat of the horse coming through those fleece pants on that cold winter day. However, I am still nursing a tail bone injury from falling off onto the frozen ground while riding bareback last February, so it goes on the list very reluctantly.

10. And the number 10 reason to enjoy winter is….
Every day that passes is one day closer to spring!

Wow! This was harder than I thought it would be! What about you? Are you a winter rider or have you put up your spurs for the season?


  1. Hah! #10 is my favorite. Good for you thinking so positively, though.
    Your photos were all wonderful, too. But your third photo down took my breath away. That one reminds me of a painting. It should be framed and you might one to consider entering a photo contest with it. The lighting is just gorgeous!


  2. I'm going to have to refer back to this in upcoming months. I hate winter too. We have an indoor arena at the place where we board, but it only helps so much. It's not windy, but still COLD!

  3. I know what you mean. For me, it's even hard to get motivated to do something with the horses on the nice winter days, because I know the next days will be wintery, so why go out and work them? I should just treat those days as play time, and just go spend time with them. I love the photo of the horses running, with 1 out in the lead? Who is that?

  4. I don't mind riding in winter as long as it's not too windy. With the proper clothing and boots it's easy enough to stay warm.We're in the process of building an indoor and I hope it's finished soon. I really hate to lose time riding and training because of weather and I just love riding no matter what the weather is. One thing I've always liked about winter riding is when your ride is over and you put the cooler on the horse and tuck it around your legs and their rump to keep you both warm. And for some reason I like to see and feel the breathe come out of a horses nose on a cold day, don't ask me why I just like the warm breathe on my hands or neck. I've also been guilty of burrowing my hands under a horses blanket to warm them, it just feels good. So I'm probably a little crazy but who cares.

  5. Lisa - I pulled all of these pictures from my archives and was surprised to find the one you mentioned. It is a nice picture. Makes me feel warm on a cold day.

    Brenda - I think that was Gunner (Windy's 1/2 brother)in the lead. I see that Jo is in the picture and he was gone before I got Windy back. And I see Ginger with the herd. So by the process of elimination... I'll say Gunner. :)

    Gray Horse - It's funny - once I do bundle up and go riding, I'm not cold. You are right - the right gear makes all the difference. Its just going out and doing it! Kind of like jumping in a cold swimming pool. I don't give it up completely. I log the time I ride and surprisingly, I usually get a dozen hours a month in the saddle during these bitter times but nothing compared to what I ride during the good months.

  6. Gray Horse... meant to say, too, that you aren't crazy. I think we ALL can relate! :)

  7. Finally wore my fleece breeches at the Nebraska NATRC ride this year. Wow, they were awesome! Never cold enough hear to use them here.

    Every time we think we would like to live in another part of the country, the snow factor kicks in, and I decide that having a day or three of snow here in TX is just not bad at all!

    Warm thoughts headed your way!

  8. The coldest temp I went trail riding in was 7*F. We only went for an hour and we were dressed properly for it. The right clothes make such a difference.

    The sun comes up between 9:30 and 10:00 am and it's dark by 4:00 pm. When I start to complain about it, I think of the people who live in Barrow or on the Slope. The sun won't come up there until sometime in February.

    Love the pictures.

  9. That's a good list. I too am really frustrated with the lack of daylight and having to go to work and sit in a cubical during those precious daylight hours. I love my automatic waterers in the winter and I love seeing my horses pause from their hay munching and take a good drink from their waterer.

  10. I admire your attempt at looking at the bright side. But I have to agree, I'm not fussy about the cold. We have an indoor arena, but even with that, sometimes it's just too hard to leave the warm house. I've certainly considered hibernation and admit I like the eating part. And yes, I too, should be hardier--I'm Canadian.

  11. Shoofly4:18 PM

    I found that when I had access to an indoor it didn't really make me ride more; if it was nice enough to ride at all, I wanted to go out! Enjoying the outdoors is a lot of what I like about riding!

    But I can feel my fortitude slipping this year, so I anticipate fewer ride hours. Hauling to an indoor in the dead of winter has proven to be miserable, too; just don't think I'll be up for it as much.

    But I refuse to let the cold weather dominate my thinking! I'll find something else horse-related to pass the months! Like read.... and my tack could sure use some cleaning and oiling...

  12. I usually take a winter break from Dec. 1 until the beginning of March. But my favorite horse has headshaker syndrome and he's seasonal--meaning he's only rideable in the winter! Is this some cruel joke?!

  13. When I moved from Arizona to Iowa a few years ago, the winter was at first a shock. My first winter here I had no horse, but my husband dragged me out on cross-country skis a few times, and I slowly realized fun and cold are not mutually exclusive terms! Now that I have a horse again, I think of summer as a time to explore and broaden our horizons and winter as a time to go bareback and focus on polishing the details. I stay indoors more, and enjoy the fact that the winter is quiet at my barn and I usually have the place to myself. But my most useful discovery - the more I go out in the cold, the less it bothers me. As if I needed an excuse to ride more. :)

  14. Tammy, that was an ECELLENT list (event he waterer!)of great wintery things!
    Your photo's are stunning too! Really loved the sunny snowshadowy one and the first one the most!

    Hang in...this year I too am without an arena..and I am being thankful for the time I have at home and my mare thanks me for not riding after dark on ANY given winter day!
    INTREPID RIDER you are!!!
    I loved the sligh bells ride video!
    It will soon be over and the warmth will again cover the my dear friend..change is a always does!

  15. My brain is a winter rider; my body keeps sending the brain back to the warm house. We winterized the camper/horse trailer last weekend and I wanted to cry.

  16. Hello from North Florida! First time reader of your blog....found you thru Lisa's Laughing Orca Ranch blog. I dislike extremely cold weather and can't imagine having to give up riding for 3 months out of the year. Here's wishing you sunny skies and warm winds.


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