Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

Today was officially the shortest day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. From here on out, the days will just get longer and longer. And that's good news for anybody who needs to do things outside. Here in New Jersey, it starts getting dark around 4:30. I'm sitting here at 5:11 and it's pitch black out there. Yuck.

Limited daylight means limited time for chores. There are lights in my barn, but my horses don't live in a barn. They roam freely over three acres, pooping wherever they please. And someone needs to pick up that poop. In spite of my efforts, those lazy beasts refuse to learn to handle a manure fork. So, that leaves it up to me. I also have two children, so my time for doing chores and riding my horse gets limited to nap time. Nap time is only about an hour, so I always have to choose: ride the horse, or clean up the poop. To be perfectly honest, I usually choose ride the horse. I can always de-worm the horses later.

I jest, of course. Proper manure removal is an integral part of farm management. And, the longer you put it off, the longer it takes to clean up. And when it's frozen to the ground it's really a pain to get up. Thus, I do not get to ride as often as I'd like to.

At the clinic last week my trainer was very pleased with my work. His only criticism was that I need to push harder, ask for more and step the training up. And he's absolutely right. But, these things are easier said than done for the adult amateur on her own farm in a cold winter area. The deck is really stacked against me. I'm doing really good if I ride three times a week. And the first 30 minutes of each ride is spent getting me and my horse warmed up. Then what? It takes forever to get warmed up and then I work on the same thing I've been doing. Spider and I are running in place right now, not losing ground but not gaining it, either. It's frustrating. But it's not a reason to give up. Today was the Winter Solstice. The days are only getting longer now and we'll have more time.


  1. I hear you! It's 5:07 here and pitch dark outside. I have to start the barn chores at 4:00 to finish by dark. Fortunately, my kids are teenagers so I don't have to rely on naptime (anymore) to ride. It is hard, and you do run in place, but you are getting the foundation really really confirmed - right? Here's a toast to longer days!

  2. That's interesting to me that you think you and Spider are just "running in place." I don't agree. Any ride that includes warming up is a good thing, and every single ride moves you and your horse forward in one way or another. If you are managing to ride three times a week, that's amazing and something to be proud of given all the rest that you have to do. So I think you rock.

  3. I am in the same boat as you. Trying to keep up with the day to day of the farm and balance that with the little ones is more than a challange on a good day. I too try to ride 3 times a week and have started to feel that "running in place" feeling. But Muddy K is right even the work you are doing is progress it is probably a little slower progress than the spring-fall months. I am just trying to look at it as long as we haven't lost ground by April I will be happy. No reason to make this thing we love so very much be a source of stress. Then we are kind of defeating the purpose of why we are doing it.

  4. I'm having trouble coping with the weather. I used to ride in almost anything, and now, every drop of rain or wind or cold or heat and I just don't make the effort to ride.

    Fortunately, I don't have any immediate goals to compete, so when I do ride, I just enjoy myself. Maybe I just needed a long break from the more serious training. I don't think my Boys mind too much.

    By the by, how is the footing in your arena with the rubber? I am envious of that.

  5. Blargh, I hate winter. Props to you for riding as much as you do! It sounds like you have to work hard to fit it in.

    What if you warmed Spider up by longeing? Since you're not on his back, maybe you could ask him to warm up a little faster and cut your warmup time down. Then again, you still have to warm up slowly enough to let all those muscles and joints get loosened up...so maybe not.

    My dressage trainer heats up one of those rice-filled pads in a microwave and sticks it on the horse's back for awhile while she grooms them! I'd be tempted to try it if McKinna was cold-backed, but she's not, and we don't have a microwave at our barn ;)


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