The first thing you notice living on the prairie is that there isn’t a lot to distract you from the weather. Especially now- it’s Indian summer and I am gobsmacked. We had a hard frost and celebrated death to the flies. Dawn and dusk are quiet baby colors- pinks, blues, yellows. The leaves on our scant trees are a metallic copper, crackling in the breeze. There is a delicate quality to the outdoors just now- like the earth is holding it’s breath, waiting for the wind on it’s way from the north. Any minute that wind will bomb us naked and mono-chromatic till spring.
But we have today to breathe, and sip the Indian summer whine of dread: I hate winter, I hate the dark! Soon I will don my Carhart onesie to go feed. There is a place on the way to the barn where I hit open ground and the wind assaults me full force- strong from not having to detour around anything wider than a fence post for miles. My body has an involuntary flinch, braced for the attack of air that can up-end me if the footing is icy.
Do I sound whiny? I remember now- this is the time of the year when summer has made us lazy and weak. We have no tolerance after a season of long days and cooling vests. Each fall we have to re-grow our tolerance again. Like the woolly mammoths our horses become, we have to bulk up with the audacity to go to the barn and ride anyway.
I could remind you all of the usual pre-siberian barn tasks: it’s time plug in the tank heaters and ask your working student to check for electrical shorts. I have a couple of other suggestions from my inner White-Trash-Dressage-Queen to tide you over until the heated indoor arena magically appears. Consider buying some new socks, there is a direct connection between sock age and quality of life. I also recommend an extremely ugly hat with ear flaps. I am not sure if they are warmer but just being seen in one makes you a stronger person. And finally, ride bareback. Enough said.
Before you know it days will be getting longer and you will be standing around the tack room with your fellow ice-riders talking trash about crashing the Iditarod. And whining about the misery of riding in the sticky heat come June!
Anna Blake, www.AnnaBlakeTraining.com
(Photo: Autumn color, with pale gray.)