I haven’t been writing much lately about my own life and horses. Truth is, it’s been pretty grim here in Massachusetts. (We’re waiting on a bomb cyclone that’s planning to drop Friday morning. I wish that was an ironic joke.) On top of that, for the past ten days, we’ve been stuck in an unprecedented polar vortex. Yeah, it’s cold here in the winter. But really, it’s never this cold.
Towards the beginning (a week ago) I tried valiantly to keep up my training plan. I was motivated by all the eventing greats. They don’t take days off. When our hands and feet couldn’t deal with riding gloves and leather boots–we’d long line. When that seemed unbearable, we could tack walk. Then the temperature kept falling, regularly to a “real feel” below zero, and I realized close to zero percent of those great eventers ever have to deal with this.
So, the horses have gotten some unplanned time off. Maybe it’s setting them back strength and fitness wise, maybe it’s not. There’s not much science that explains the costs and benefits to continuing exercising horses in the freezing cold. My rule of thumb has been to try to avoid jumping below freezing if possible. That’s when my feet burn when dismounting so I’m guessing it doesn’t feel great for the horses on landing. (I’m very scientific.)
A recent post on Facebook suggests that extreme cold may affect their respiratory system. Which, to be honest, has never occurred to me. I’m still a fan of tack walking and trot transitions to at least keep the horses moving, but this information made me consider that any long trot or canter work should be kept above 23 F (-5 C). Oh well.
I’m starting to get itching to be back in the saddle, and mostly just be able to feel my hands, toes, and feet while doing so. Until then I’ll hug the ponies extra tight, tell them to enjoy their holiday vacation, and look forward to my clinic with Dane Rawlins in Amesbury, MA next week. Provided we all make it through the terrifying snow hurricane.