When it comes to weather, I’m a self-admitted wimp — especially about the cold. I hate the idea of being cold. I hate thinking about possibly being cold. I hate actually being cold. I dread going out to ride in the cold. I hate it when my toes go numb. I hate it when my feet feel like they’re going to break when I dismount onto my frozen feet. You get the picture…
So you’re probably wondering why I’m not taking my February in Aiken or Wellington, enjoying the warmer climes. Well, I’m an amateur, which means I have a day job. Plus, I have a child in school, a husband, several cats, and a couple of dogs. So sneaking away with my horse for a 6-week vacation from reality just isn’t in my cards. So I stay in DC, and try not to have a nervous breakdown upon hearing the weather forecast.
Punxatawney Phil, the groundhog, promised us an early spring. And I think he may be right, that darn rodent. No kidding, next week it will be 50 degrees. But today, it’s all of 18 — and it took us all darn day to get that high. Brrr!!! It’s almost enough to make this weather wuss stay home for the day. But my daughter tweaked her knee (not a riding injury) and couldn’t ride in her lesson this morning. So if I didn’t ride, Charlie wouldn’t get out today, and that just wasn’t a discussion I wanted to have tomorrow because at that point he’d be wired for sound.
So when I got up, I dressed in full battle regalia: a fleece shirt, a heavy knit jacket, my monster Mountain Horse winter coat, fleece breeches, my Noble Equine Best Darn Boot Socks, paddock boots, and suede half chaps. It was as layered and windproof as I could get, and still move. Top it all off with a knit ski hat and heavy winter gloves, and I was ready to groom and tack.
I made sure Charlie was well appointed too. We kept his heavy winter blanket on until we got to the aisle in the barn. Once inside, we groomed a third of his body at a time, folding back just enough blanket to expose the part we were brushing. When we were done, the heavy blanket came off in favor of the saddle pad and other tack. Plus, we added thick padded boots to keep him from clicking his ankles together, a super warm quarter sheet, and a stable blanket over it all until it was time to head out.
When it was time to switch to my helmet, I made sure to put on a hair net first. Yeah, it’s a throw back to my hunter trainer, but it’s also a very effective way to keep some heat in my head without a ton of volume. Plus, it leaves my ears uncovered so I can hear my instructor during class.
Class was almost entirely walk and trot, with some ground poles for interest, and a precious little bit of canter. The warm up was long, and included plenty of stretching for both the riders and the horses. We didn’t do anything terribly complex or demanding. But we just kept going, and going, and going.
Charlie and I rode for the entire hour. And miraculously, we weren’t cold. Not one little bit!