When the first really cold day of winter stretches before you, you awake with all kinds of thoughts swirling in your brain; will I stay warm today, what will be broken and require fixing, how long will it take, how much is it going to cost and how cold will my feet get today?

With time and experience, you learn how to dress so you can work and move in cold, and you learn how to wrap the spigots and drain the hoses, keep stuff plugged in and keep doors shut so the hot water heater doesn’t freeze solid. As with all things, you learn how to do all these little tasks because in a previous life, you didn’t….and it made life difficult.

Winter does bring a certain amount of satisfaction, that you have made yet another year, and your horses munching on hay in the quiet, warm barn are additional proof that all your work has paid off. There is nothing quite as good as having all the horses turned out on a frosty morning take a happy galloping loop around the pasture, tails flung, snorting and playing like colts.

When the arena freezes and it’s hard to ride, then it’s time to do all your other homework. Clean the tack room, hang Christmas decorations, look with new eyes at your organization, spend a little time researching new things or educating yourself on the rule changes, new medications and treatments, things that might help you manage your little herd just a bit better in the coming year.

You eye your weather app on your phone pretty regularly for the possibility of a riding day, and you think about your goals for the year – without getting too crazy ambitious. You send your farrier and your vet Christmas cards, your trainer too, and try to fit a bit more family time in the day, too.

Winter is a good time to catch up on all the things you meant to do earlier in the fall but ran out of time or ambition. Or watch your breath curl into the frigid air, and be glad you have the chance to be with horses, and forget, for just a moment, how cold your toes are.