Alright, let’s be honest here… winter sucks. And just to clarify; yes, I am VERY jealous of all of you in Florida.
The last few days in Ottawa have been quite nice; a lovely, brief January thaw with temperatures reaching up to 12 degrees! While this created a bit of a swamp and dread knowing that it was going to freeze again, the break in temperatures from minus 30 was a wonderful and welcomed guest. Horses were ridden with only one
pair of gloves, I was only wearing one jacket and no snowpants, and I could feel my face while turning out. The horses were rolling and frolicking in the paddocks and life was good. Then yesterday the temperatures rapidly plummeted to minus 15 overnight and now there is a foot of snow outside my front door…
So, since we’re all suffering together, here are some things that I have found to helpful to surviving:
- It’s okay to look like the kid from the A Christmas Story…
- Layers are key! You can always take layers off while mucking and turning out (when I always find myself sweating regardless of how cold it is!), but you’ll want to have them to put back on when you’re done.
- You can never have too many extra socks and gloves – seriously. Wet, damp gloves and socks are possibly my biggest annoyance. My locker is full of them!!And let’s be honest, someone always needs to borrow a pair and you’ll be their superhero!
- Good, waterproof boots, jackets and snowpants are worth springing for! As equestrians we tend to be stingy on our own purchases, while our horse is wearing his brand new $500 winter jacket and $300 shoes with corks and snow pads. But if you’re working and riding in a stable, spending the extra money on good outerwear can make a world of difference!
- Learn how to be efficient – Take horses out to the paddock two at a time (if they’re well behaved), figure out the shortest path to all places (yes, there is always a shorter way!!), fit as many stalls into a wheelbarrow as possible, and find jobs that keep you moving (sweeping is always a good one!)
- Be smart – if you’re lucky enough to have a heated space spend time in there to warm up! I’ll be the first to admit that when it was minus 30 I was finding excuses to make my way to the tack room for a minute or two. Most times it’s worth buckling down and just getting stuff done, but sometimes it’s just not smart.
So how in the world are we supposed to stay motivated through it all??
- Review videos of the past competition season to remind yourself why you’re doing this. Winter is the best time to improve!!
- Quality over Quantity. Not every ride has to be an hour long. Keep it short and sweet.
- Find inspiration in others – one of my favourite winter activities is reading books by some of the worlds best. There is some serious motivation in learning how they have made it there and continue to succeed.
- Take clinics and online courses – there is more to this sport than just improving our riding, and there is no such thing as knowing it all! Check out different clinics in your area and sign up for an online course!
- Plan out your upcoming season – knowing that there will, in fact, be an end to the dreadfulness can be a huge motivation!
- Set daily goals – having a goal to work towards in the sub zero can make it much easier to focus and buckle down
- Every little bit you do today puts you ahead of those that choose to let the winter get them down. Even the smallest effort can make a difference.
Just remember winter always ends, eventually… It may feel like ages away but one day soon we’ll be galloping across the green grass again! Keep you’re head up and focus on the future!