When the evenings are as dark as they are, it’s so difficult to know how it will be physically possible to fit all of the jobs that need doing into the shorter days, especially when taking into consideration the job (that you work to pay for the horse) which takes up the main (and lightest) part of the day, which you would rather spend with said horse! The bad weather is off-putting, knowing that you will end up damp and cold being outside, and if its windy and you end up parting ways with your equine companion on a ride, you can add being covered in mud to your list of reasons not to ride through winter! It can be really tempting, if you have the option to ride whenever you like, to wait for a better day… but those of us spending our time outside know that at this time of the year, that weather just might not come until May… if we’re lucky!
I say “us” but in reality I have never had a horse, and whilst I desperately want one, a part of me is always relieved when winter starts to throw itself around and I don’t have to worry about those moments where you are drenched from head to toe, covered in mud and still need to poo pick in the dark with a head torch. Maybe this time without a horse is allowing my to psych myself up…or put me off! Only joking!!!
When I was younger though, my riding lessons were the only time I had to be around horses, so I would have my riding lesson in an outdoor school come rain or shine, and the only thing that took me away from my lesson in the school, where I believed I would progress the most, was if the school was frozen, in which case I went on a hack! I am incredibly grateful for that time in my life and the dedication it taught me.
At this time in my life, my friends were starting to gain their independence, going out together on the bus (which was a big thing back then!) and spending their time shopping, but that wasn’t for me. Instead, my amazing mum was stuck with me, taking me to my riding lessons every week without fail – even if she did sit in the car whilst I rode on the bad days! I couldn’t blame her, she didn’t sign up to stay out in the rain, and actually, I don’t think I could ever thank her enough for letting me live for my weekends the way I did. My Saturdays were everything to me.
I don’t doubt that sometimes I will experience those feelings of looking out the window thinking, “not today!” Sometimes that’s the best decision for both person and pony!
Last winter, I saddled up Florence as the wind was blowing and the rain starting, not thinking too much of it. I had done this before. Well… we ended up caught in a hail storm, shielding behind a pile of hay bales, with me laying low over her neck. I must say, I hadn’t been riding her for very long and she had so many reasons to spook that day, but she didn’t take any of them. She looked after me perfectly, and I decided that her reward for that would be that I would try not to put her in that position again, where the choice was in her court as to whether she abandoned me in the rain and fled to shelter or not (partly due to the concern that she may choose differently next time)!
I am very aware of the label “fair weather rider”, and whilst I used to ride through all weathers, I have also made that decision not to ride if I haven’t felt happy to. You have to do you…that is the conclusion of my waffling (yes, I had a point!)
If you and your horse are happiest in bad weather just chilling together, do that! Or if you want to ride, that’s cool too! Want to change your mind? Awesome! As long as it makes you happy, that’s why we do what we do… it’s easy to forget that when you’re covered soaking wet from poo picking in the rain, believing that you haven’t achieved all that much else. Don’t pressure yourself, the longer days and better weather will come around again.
Love Abbie x