The wind positively howled. There was sun, not that you could feel it. The horses didn’t want turn out. It was 20 degrees warmer in the south-facing runs and there’s not much windbreak on our prairie pasture. The horses that were turned out looked longingly at the barn and I knew the season has truly changed.
I was mucking a pen, coat zipped against the wind and my warmest Elmer Fudd hat tied down, when my phone rang. A client re-scheduled her lesson that afternoon. I don’t blame her; the wind was kicking fast from the north. She lives on a ridge and the weather there is always a bit more extreme. What a miserable afternoon.
I finished up and hurried into the house for some hot cocoa- and checked the thermometer. Really? 56 degrees?
I’m a pansy- a weeny, whiny pansy.
There is nothing like a few months of warm sun and long days to just kill even a memory of last winter’s cold weather resolve.
It’s not like I haven’t seen winter coming. The flies are gone. I’ve had a couple of frozen hose dramas already. There’s an alarming amount of hair on everyone but me. Attached hair, I mean.
We all know about the Wind Chill Factor. Are you familiar with the Relative Misery Factor? It’s an extrapolated mathematical sum of how much you love your horse plus how rewarding riding can be, divided by crackling cold toes and a natural ice-cream-brain-freeze. (It’s science!)
It’s that time of the year again-time to start the layering process. We layer mental fortitude and serious commitment between long johns and dorky hats. We are a force of nature ourselves, remember? It’s one of the things our horses like about us.
My best advice: New socks. Never underestimate blessing of new socks. Get some of those expensive Smartwool ones, they’re worth it. Last year I got a pair of miraculous cold weather shoe insoles to go with my new socks. My Relative Misery Factor shrank visibly.
Sure, some days are just too cold and dark. On the other hand, winter solstice is just 63 days away, and then days get longer again.
And once our teeth stop chattering it’s easy to remember that our horse’s lives are short. What wouldn’t you trade for just one more ride on your dear old campaigner- even on a cold day?
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.
For my winter clients, I’ve posted my Lesson Cancellation Policy here.