The first day of spring was officially March 20th; any equestrian can tell you that the Vernal Equinox is practically a national holiday for us. It’s the day that Mother Nature is supposed to start beginning to bring us warm weather (or at the very least, stop sending snow for Pete’s sake), and it marks the beginning of summer show season preparation for many.
Leading up to this day, visions of 70 degree weather, trail riding, riding in the outdoor, bathing my horse, and not riding in 20 layers danced in my head.
Rarely is the transition into spring so lovely though, especially in the fickle state of Ohio.
We’ve had a few nice days. I was able to bathe The Mare, rode in a polo instead of the Under Armor/Sweater/Vest/Winter Jacket combo; and have ventured outside to ride a few times. But spring often brings us a few last inconveniences before finally giving us the reprieve into summer.
Mud Season: This means closing fields when they turn into swamps and the all-weather paddocks turn into ponds (limited field turnout = unhappy Black Mare). My horse is a wuss when it comes to walking through puddles, so when she has to, she is kind enough to share the experience with me by splashing as much mud on me as possible. I’ve been reminded how to get mud out of Tailored’s, and have quickly learned to wear only my muck boots until my horse is inside. I’ve clipped the feathers off The Mare’s legs in an effort to avoid 2 tons of mud being brought with her every time she comes inside.
The farrier also becomes a lot more present during Mud Season, as shoes magically get lost to the mud more frequently this time of year (*My bank account would like to take this moment to the thank The Mare for being barefoot).
Bipolar Weather: Ohio is pretty good for this one year-round, but especially at this time of year. We’ve bounced back and forth between 65-70 and sunny, to 45 and rain, to 35 (and dropping) currently. We’re supposed to get even colder overnight. If it snows again, I might scream.
As the weather changes, you never know what horse you’ll get as you saddle up…the quiet, lazy summer model? The spooky worrier because it’s raining and windy? The wild winter model because the temperature changed 20 degrees in 2 days?
One day the barn doors and windows can be open, the horses are naked and the next everything is locked back up and everyone has heavyweight blankets on again. Working in a barn with 52 horses makes me want the weather to stay consistent solely so we can stop this mad blanket-swapping game.
Shedding Season: All of the woolly mammoths – I mean, horses – are in the height of shedding all that winter hair; grooming takes 10 times as long, and you end up with as much hair on you as the horse has (double if it’s a grey or paint with big white markings). Every article of clothing you own regardless of it has ever been near your horse will have horse hair on it for the next month. If you body clipped your horse, you escape some of this (The Mare was clipped again, except for a saddle patch I left, which she is madly shedding from).
Body clipped horses are just going through a somewhat awkward color change as they grow back in. The Mare was this dusty brown/grulla color after I clipped her; now her head and neck are black, her stomach is brown and her butt is still dusty brown/grulla. And the patch on her back that I didn’t clip is bay, a remnant of her getting sun bleached last year. I’m hoping she grows back in soon; we look a little strange right now.
If we didn’t already get strange looks going out in public in our equestrian gear, we certainly are now–being covered in mud and horse hair only completes the look, right?
Aside from the weather, mud and everything else Mother Nature sends our way, it can be a crazy time of year for equestrians (maybe just for me, who knows). I am in the middle of finishing my honors thesis project, doing my honors defense for said project, getting that paper ready for publication, helping plan my team’s year-end banquet, finishing out the semester strong…oh, and graduating. And planning life after graduation (yikes). March has been a little crazy, and April looks to be just as wild. I have never been so ready for warm weather and summer riding.
I can say I am blessed with a wonderful horse who (in addition to being clipped and barefoot, making the transition easier for me!) has been very understanding of my March madness, and continues to be a superstar in our lessons. Even if all I have time for is running out to her field and giving her a treat and a pat, she is excited to see me, makes me smile, and makes me forget how chaotic I am feeling.
May the weather get warm soon, may your horse shed out fast, may your shoes all stay attached, and may your transition into Spring be a little less hectic than mine!