The Five Stages of an Equestrian Winter

With more snow and cold forecasted for a large part of the country, the only thing going for us is that we’re all going through it together.

My job as an HN writer is to bring informative and entertaining stories to you, our cherished and beloved readers. My process for bringing you these stories is a combination of looking for the unique and insightful in my own horse experiences as well as finding what’s hot and hilarious on the Internet that I think you’ll enjoy. So when I sat down to write and couldn’t think of a single interesting thing I had done on horseback recently nor find anything good going on in the rest of the horse world, I wondered why. And then I looked outside my window: the sky is gray. The ground is covered in snow. And then it hit me: it’s February, and nothing good happens this month. (See Carla Lake’s ode to February and all that is has to offer.)

But it wasn’t always like this. I happily rode in the snow up to a few weeks ago. And then I realized what was actually going on.


Let’s roll the clock back to December. Remember that happy time? Snow sifting gently down through the sky, coating the world in a magical layer of sparkling white. It’s not even cold outside because everyone’s holiday lights brighten the air and you can stand by the window with a mug of hot peppermint cocoa in your hands admiring how lovely it all is. Saddle up the horse, put on that adorable quarter-sheet you just got and go caroling! Frolic in the snow and the brisk air! Take beautiful scenic shots for your Instagram and tag them #ilovewinter or #snowisbeautiful. Look, even the horses don’t seem to mind. You LOVE winter!



Isn’t it amazing that the minute the calendar flips to January how much winter suddenly seems to suck? It doesn’t help that suddenly on your drive to the barn all you see is everyone’s dead and ugly Christmas tree out by the curb waiting to be picked up and dumped. You feel the urge to knock the heads off of snowmen in people’s front yards. It’s only been a month and you’ve had it up to HERE with blanket changes, knocking ice out of the water bucket, and endless circles on circles on circles in the indoor arena. All of your lucky friends who got to pack it up and head south this month have been blocked in your phone because you’re tired of getting texts that read “OMG it’s so hot today” or “FML I got a sunburn standing by the jumper ring again!” 


Had to dig out my truck with the tiny pitchfork that I keep in the bed. #horsenation #wintersucks


A photo posted by Abby (@ashequine) on


By the end of January, you start reasoning with yourself, with Mother Nature, your horse, the weatherman, anyone you suspect might be listening: “winter is a good opportunity to really improve our flatwork,” “if we can make it through January, we’re really almost there,” “I saved a ton of money not shipping down to Aiken with everyone else, and it’s not even really that cold here!” Are your hands frozen stiff around the broom handle? That’s okay, you needed to cobweb the aisle anyway. Your horse ripped his blanket strap–again? No worries, you can just fix it with baling twine. If you can’t find any reason to complain about winter, it must not be that bad. Right? Right?

Enjoying the nicer weather while it lasts #trailride #calypsofarm #horsenation #horsesofinstagram

A photo posted by Megan Burke (@megemilia) on


Yep, February. Exactly where we are right now…that’s when you realize that there’s no point in complaining about winter any more, because it’s never going to be over. These endless gray days in which 4:00 in the evening looks exactly the same as 10:00 in the morning will never change. Your life will simply be a drudge of banging out frozen buckets, changing blankets, mucking stalls, lunging your horse, again, because his paddock is an ice rink and you can’t turn him out. The tractor is frozen at the barn so the manure spreader won’t be moving until April. The outdoor arena doesn’t exist any more. You forgot what the sun looks like. Your body is perpetually frozen and everything is terrible.


Okay, none of us are at this point yet, but let’s stick together here and remind each other that someday, somehow, winter will be over. The grass will grow, flowers will bloom, we can put away the blankets and go on trail rides and turn out our horses again. We will start to receive prize lists in the mail. Horses will shed. We will complain about all of the hair, then look at ourselves, laugh, give each other a mental high-five because we made it. Winter stinks, winter is cold, winter is icy and snowy and miserable–but without winter, we wouldn’t love the spring, and that’s really all we need to remember.


Hang in there and go riding!

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