Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weather Or Not

Today was cold; bitter, windy cold, the kind of cold that freezes your eyelashes together. I did not go riding. I barely left the house. Even if I had wanted to go riding, the footing is terrible and my horse would have been quite unhappy. We've gone from mud to frozen, rutted mud to a shallow layer of frozen snow and ice on top of frozen, rutted mud.

My new horse and previous horse are vastly different yet have both been cursed with tender feet. I don't remember my first horse ever having any hoof issues. Ivy had hooves of titanium, I guess. Her feet did chip and crack a little but she never minced around the way that my current horse does. I rode Ivy on all kinds of footing, being completely oblivious to whether it would have any effect on her hooves. The exception was pavement. As much as possible, I kept her off pavement and if I had to ride on it, then only at a walk. Most of my riding was alongside the road with some trails and fields. We rode on the gravel, over the rocks, through water and galloped on dirt roads and through belly high grass. Very little of our riding was in a sand arena. My new horse and previous horse, need shoes to go riding IN the sand arena. Without them, they tiptoe around like they are trying to sneak up on someone.

Not only are my horses sissies, but I feel myself morphing into one as well. As a teenager, I went riding in all weather. For Winter rides, I often rode bareback to take advantage of my horse's body heat. Then it was layer upon layer of clothing until I resembled poor Randy from A Christmas Story ("I can't put my arms down!"). The assemblage went something like this: tights, jeans, sweatpants, socks, leg-warmers and Winter boots for the lower half and up above, t-shirt, turtleneck, sweater, vest, Winter jacket, scarf, gloves, mittens, hat and helmet. There were no fancy thermo-synthetic-polar-fleece anythings. There were no made-for Winter-riding boots, breeches or gloves like these kids have nowadays. The capper was when I went off to college and had regular riding lessons for which a uniform was required. That meant tall boots, breeches, a school sweater or jacket, helmet and gloves. In a feeble attempt to stave off the New England cold, we would buy the biggest wool socks would could find, put them on over our leather boots and then put rubber overshoes on over them. It didn't work.

I still ride in the Winter, often bareback, and with new-fangled weather appropriate riding gear, but it has to be at least 20 for me to get on a horse. Even then, I'll whine about it. It's funny though, how relative temperature can be. No matter what, 3 degrees Fahrenheit is dang cold. But when it's been 3 for a few days and then goes all the way up to 20, it can feel like Spring time. If it's been 75 degrees and dips to 4o our teeth start chattering and we fuss and carry on like the Ice Age just returned. But let the thermometer soar to 40, after temps in the teens, and we will dance around in our short sleeves like loons.

There are times when I have gone riding, under no duress or obligation, in the pouring rain, blistering heat, driving snow, pitch dark, wind, fog, and all manner of Mother Nature's manifestations. I'm glad I did. That doesn't mean I'm going to necessarily do it again, but I am glad for the experiences. Now I'm more cautious and considerate of my horse's comfort and well-being to not going riding in certain types of weather, or at least that makes a good excuse for being sissy.

If you are the type of rider that competes, there are going to be competitions held in less than ideal weather, so training in less than ideal weather only makes sense. The show must go on, and all that. If there is a danger to me or my horse, then I certainly will not risk my horse's or my own well-being to go riding, competition or not. Lightning is one of those circumstances. Dangerous footing would be another. Being older and wiser, I do feel as though extreme heat and cold classify. Some times, weather may not be conducive to a full out training session, but a modified one would be suitable. A walking ride in high temperatures or a short one in frigid temps. is certainly sensible.

No matter how much whining I may do about weather and often having to ride in disagreeable conditions, I am always glad, at the end of a ride, that I did it. The reward outweighs any discomfort, and the discomfort is usually forgotten as my horse and I start working together. However, I'm still going to be on the couch watching a movie when the temperature dips into the single digits, despite thermo-synthetic-polar-fleece anythings.

1 comment:

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