Weather Amnesia -A Time Change Rage.

WMclarasunset

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. ~Dylan Thomas

Scholars will tell you that this Dylan Thomas poem is about old age and death. It’s a little known fact, probably made up, that this poem was actually not written by Dylan Thomas at all, but rather his riding instructor who penned it at the fall time change.

The poem is actually about (line 1) not going home to a warm dinner after work, followed by wine and a good book, but instead, (line 2) flame on–you are no spring chicken and horse lives are short–ride anyway, and (line 3) scream and holler, then drive the truck over to the arena and angle the headlights down the long side. Turn up the radio while you’re at it.

We all love the fall for riding. The air is cool and clean. After a clammy summer of sweat, it’s nice to feel like wearing an Indian Summer sweatshirt, just enough to dim the chill. I think horses like the temps even better than we do. It seems every year at this time, riding is starting to pay off and we improve in direct proportion to the number of minutes less daylight per day.

There is some golden afternoon when you look into your horse’s eye and take a moment to reflect back over the year and harvest the gains you have made over the summer. It’s too easy to forget the successes because they are always immediately followed with the next challenge.

It feels like just when progress is happening, we get put into winter detention.

In this last week since the time change (hisssss….) I have had no fewer than five people tell me that they can’t ride in the winter because they don’t have an indoor arena. I am not sure what is more depressing–having an hour of daylight arbitrarily taken away in the evening or the attitude that your riding is doomed because of real estate.

About this time, I start to notice that I forgot my work gloves and my hands are cold. It’s still in the 40’s, but where are my gloves? Everyone in the barn is looking shaggy and yet I haven’t put on even one extra hair. I am unprepared.

It’s time to schedule the Grandfather Horse’s annual ’emergency’ sheath cleaning. Meaning the old ones move less in the cold and things in that area can get dangerously coagulated. It’s a good time of the year for sheath winterizing. Enough said?

Obviously, it’s time to put the tank heaters in. Dawdling on this chore has no actual effect at all on forestalling blizzards. It still feels infinitely better to break a thin layer of ice instead of giving in and admitting to the psychological issue of tank heater denial. By now I remember to put gloves on, but there are so many holes in the fingers, that it does no good anyway. Add glove denial to the list.

The bedtime walk-thru now includes wearing a head lamp over my Elmer Fudd hat, but over the complaints of my toes, I won’t give up my crocks for winter muck boots just yet.

Attention! This is your annual reminder that the worst part of the cold is that our minds are stuck back in September. It’s like this each winter–we have to work to gain our tolerance again. 48 degrees only feels impossible because we have lost our cold weather chops. Get over it. There are people who change priorities with the seasons–but we don’t put horses away for the season like a set of golf clubs. I’m right about that, aren’t I?

Get some new winter gloves and while you’re at it, get some socks. Scientists, or people who just think they know everything, make a flawless argument that our quality of life is directly tied to the age of our socks. (Cue the annual debate about fleece or wool, silk liners or not,) but put some good socks on and tuck your long johns into tops of them.

If we took the time we spend complaining about not having an indoor, and used it even just doing ground play in the pasture, we would have a better relationship with our horse by the time the days start to get longer.

And if you’re like me–one of the whiners about the dark, remember that days start to get longer again before Christmas. For real horse people, that’s the day to celebrate. Winter solstice–the shortest day of the year–is only 44 days away. That’s 1,056 hours, give or take. Spring is practically in the air.

It’s like this every year at this time. We get a form of temporary amnesia brought on from the first north wind that hits us squarely in the face. There are a million reasons to tuck in for the winter, bake cookies and not go to the barn. Most of them even have a ring of common sense about them. Beware: when common sense begins to appeal to horse people, it’s the beginning of the end.

On the other side of the equation there is just one reason that you might want to buck up and go to the barn: Your horse + the unknown date of your last ride. Rage against that.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

 

 

22 thoughts on “Weather Amnesia -A Time Change Rage.

  1. Shelagh in Vermont

    Very perspicacious (sic?), still applies even tho I have been horseless for a long time. However, being a spinner & knitter, socks are not a problem, gloves a different story. 🙂

  2. Becky Pickett

    With you on the time change! Really think the kids would be safer at the bus stop if we kept daylight saving. Anyone who couldn’t see those flashing lights in the dark would have to be blind!

  3. sue from the north

    I lived in Fairbanks, AK for 23 years and 15 of those years I owned horses. It was cold, snowy and dark for months on end. My advice is figure out the clothes that work, never mind what you look like, find a place where the footing is good and ride! If it is too cold to tack up hop on bareback and work on your seat. It’s winter and it ain’t going away any time soon. Winter rides are some of my best memories.

  4. I have an outdoor arena in a rainy climate. I gauge the weather and dodge the showers to get in almost-daily rides. My horse’s and my mental health depend on it.

  5. “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing,” apparently, according to intrepid adventurer Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (yes, really!). An old quote which sprang from the depths of my sub-conscious in response 🙂
    It’s just turned very November here; we’re not quite yet in glove denial weather, Anna, but I’m noier trying to remember where I packed away the sturdy boots and long sleeve shirts. Love the cool temps, hate the shorter days but, well, if my grass schooling area isn’t always practicable, we go out exploring all the lovely countryside (outdoor skills being much undervalued, imho).
    If the weather’s really disgusting, I “work” indoors and don’t feel so guilty reading my blogging friends (oh and trying to get the occasional post together!).
    Would love to know if Californians (or other “fortunate” places) appreciate their year-round good weather?

  6. Timely narrative! You said it well: Winter Detention. At 46 degrees North, it’s now dark a little after 5:00pm . I switch my work hours in concert with “Falling Back” so I can get home by 3:30…if it isn’t raining cats & dogs, I can get 30 minutes of schooling or a nice hack around the property, which I was able to do tonight . It was short, but I’ll take it!

  7. The owner of the boarding stable, also my instructor, took me out on a trail ride today. We do that every lesson now as the arena has horses grazing in it to keep the grass down. Most of the boarders are avid trail riders, so the arena gets little use. One of those boarders, a new friend, joined us for my lesson to teach me to handle “distractions” on the trail. With the wind whipping up, the sun dipping behind dark clouds, and geese in the plowed over bean fields taking flight, all three horse were distracted. Naturally the conversation turned to winter riding and clothes. So I laughed when I read “fleece or wool, silk liners or not.” You must have been a late fly on Zeus’ tail listening in. Of course we came to no consensus, but I do plan to add a few turtlenecks and long-johns to my wardrobe! I can’t imagine wanting to ride indoors even when winter beckons with icy fingers.

  8. Beth Weaver

    One of the great things about being older is how fast time flies. It will be spring before I know it.
    And I feel smug when everyone else is whining about the cold, and I am toasty warm because I dress right. It’s ok to feel smugly once in a while. I am not going to waste my time whining about what I can’t change, and weather is one of those things.

  9. Cat

    As always, your comments make me smile (sometimes ruefully at myself) and think. I live in the high desert of southern NM and thus quite spoiled on the weather front – in fact summer for us is the challenge, as it is hot enough once sun gets up to discourage even the most ardent horsewoman – but thankfully early morning and evenings are still available.

    You inspire me. Thanks!

    1. Heat is a whole other challenge! Don’t think I would like that any better! Thank you for bragging about your landscape. Lord knows I have been doing it here all fall!

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