Florida has two seasons that apply to equestrians: A couple of months in what would be considered ‘winter’ for those from northern states, when horse people flock here in droves to ride in the sunshine and in 70-80 degree weather. As a native Floridian, the fall and winter months are to die for here, and provide the best conditions to ride in, for sure.
Then there’s the rest of the time. After those 2-3 dreamy months of cool and dry weather, Florida succumbs to its more permanent weather patterns: 90-plus degree days with 100 percent humidity, 2-3 thunderstorms a day (like clockwork) and the bugs, oh lordy, the bugs.
The pastures and arenas are constantly flooded. The mosquitoes and noseeums are brutal. Even those trendy sun shirts and Equivisors can’t save you from the oppressive sun, which keeps you in a constant state of dehydration and a sweat-stained mess.
I hate riding in summer. Let me tell you all the reasons why:
1. Bugs: Those who come to Wellington and Ocala in the wintertime may think the insects in Florida are bad, but in reality they have no idea. Wait until there’s standing water in the pastures and arenas. Only then do the alien-like monster bugs from Florida backwoods swamps make an appearance. You’ve never seen anything like them (think the movie Alien). You and your horse will be itchy forever. Don’t even get me started on Zika.
2. Sweat: It’s never ending. I love my Ariat sun shirts, but even they don’t provide enough cool relief under the intense sun here in the South. Sweat is the one constant you can count on in the summer. That and the sour smell that lingers on you and everything that touches your body. (Don’t get me started on the stench of sweaty saddle pads in a hot car on an August day.) Sweat is what blinds you as it pours into your eyes from your helmet. You better hope your horse doesn’t stop sweating. But at least you can share an ice-cold beer with him if he does.
3. Mud: It’s everywhere. On your boots. Sucking off your horse’s shoes, making their hooves soft and brittle, banning you from jumping forever because your horse would be swimming instead of cantering to get down what used to be a line of fences. Your horse loves it. He adds an extra layer to his fly sheet by rolling in it every day. No fly sheet? Then he adds an extra layer of fungus to his legs/back/neck/everywhere from his constant mud baths.
4. Tan Lines: So naturally, equestrians have the most embarrassing tan lines. We sport them year round, but in the summer they’re the worst. There’s nothing better than the one day you decide to go to the beach with your buddies and you have the whitest legs and the most unfortunate farmer’s lines.
5. Green Mold: There’s no saving your tack from chronic green mold that keeps creeping its way over your saddle and bridle. Even in climate-controlled tack rooms, opening the door once breaks the seal lets the humidity in, and everything leather suffers. Is it even worth cleaning when you know the mold will be back in just two-days time?
6. Rain: So you pep-talk yourself into riding on a July day when it’s supposed to 95 degrees out. Good for you. Better check the radar every 10 minutes, because thunderstorms creep up just as quickly as the mosquito larva spreading in your horse’s water buckets.
7. School’s Out: I ride at a barn with a lot of young ladies who are out of school right now. I admire their dedication because they’re at the barn all day, everyday. Horse camp is great and all, and I do love all these girls. But there’s no quiet time at the barn anymore. Children are everywhere. Chaos ensues.
8. Horse Shows: Who wants to train and compete in these awful aforementioned conditions? You’d be surprised. Only the crazy show up to all-day horse trials or two-day shows ready to actually do something productive in weather like this, even if the show does waive jackets! I see random trips to the ER in their future.
9. Flushing Money Down The Toilet: Fly Spray. Anti-Fungal Spray. Anti-Fungal shampoo. Venice Turpentine. Fly Mask. Salt Block. Electrolytes. Sun Screen. Bug Spray. Water. More Water. And More Water. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
10. Hurricanes: Maybe this isn’t as big of a concern in other states, but the spring/summer is the start of hurricane season. Every couple of weeks you’ve got to tune in to the weather guy to decide if it’s worth evacuating your horse. That job is enough of a project in itself, but in the summer, when it’s hot and muggy and terrible, packing up your horse and hitting the road for a few days is never fun.