Happy first of summer, Horse Nation!
I’ve professed several times in writing that I love all four seasons (luckily, I live in a part of the country that does get to experience four varied seasons!) While, yes, I can be found extolling the virtues of riding in the snow, I can’t deny that the hands-down best season to be a horse person is upon us today: summer.
There are plenty of unique parts about summer that we all know and love as equestrians, such as swimming with your horse and enjoying the warm weather. There are also several rites of passage that we know well — parts of our horse life that might not be necessarily the most comfortable or enjoyable at the time, but moments that you look back on with pride and a sense of accomplishment.
One of my husband’s favorite podcasts brings up the concept of “Type 2 fun” from time to time — Type 1 fun is something like going to an amusement park; it’s fun at the time but you don’t make that many great memories. Type 2 fun, on the other hand, is something that might really suck at the time, but that you’ll back on fondly later. Horse life is full of Type 2 fun. Here are a few of our favorite summertime rites of passage that fall into that category.
1. Slowly dehydrating somewhere at a very hot show grounds.
Whether you’re at your nearest circuit event or just down the road at Circle Whatever’s fundraiser schooling show, the scene is much the same: the sky is cloudless; the sun is beating down; the arena is bone-dry and every time another horse plods by a cloud of dust rises into the air to settle on every surface imaginable.
No matter how well you think you time getting ready for your classes, the afternoon always seems to stretch on forever, you never brought enough bottled water and as the sun bakes all logical thought out of your brain you always ask yourself “why is this fun again?” And then on the drive home as the sun is setting, your tired horse loaded in the trailer and a handful of $2 ribbons slide around on your dash, you can’t wait to do it all over again.
2. Watching the sun rise and set from the barn.
It’s a strange equestrian phenomenon that you can fit the same amount of work into a winter day as you do a summer day yet somehow you’re still bookending the day at the barn even when it’s literally the longest days of the year. We’re not even going to try to figure this one out — it’s just a fact of equestrian life that when you get a free day, you’re spending literally every moment of it at the barn. You’ll come home sweaty, impossibly dirty, probably hungry and maybe a little dehydrated, but you had one of the best days of your year even if all you did was muck stalls.
3. Bucking hay.
True horse people know that no matter what country music videos and popular culture might want to show you about throwing hay bales sexily around the farm in short-shorts and a cute tank top (or shirtless if you’re the hunky hired man), you definitely want to be well-covered when it comes to filling up the hay loft so you don’t head home looking like you were on the losing end of a fight with a wood chipper (not to mention how much it burns when sweat runs into all those tiny cuts).
The best way to get through hay day is to get a bunch of friends together, hired for beer, and bust through it as quickly as you can so you can enjoy flopping into the shade later with jelly-arms and a nice cold one.
Happy first day of summer, Horse Nation — let’s make it the best one yet.