“This sport expects a lot out of us—time, a love and respect for horses, and an awful lot of hard work. But what it doesn’t expect is for you to HAVE to pack up the barn and head south for the winter.”
If you don’t have the luxury of heading south for the winter — and let’s face it, most of us don’t — you might be dreaming of the day when you get to ride underneath the sunny Florida sky without a care in the world. I did it last year, and I will admit that it was an amazing experience.
But rather than pine over the riders jumping around at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, I’m here to champion the horsewomen and men who stick it out up north and head to the barn even when the temperature is in the single digits, or—gasp—below zero. In the United States, we’ve moved away from the idea of “horse person first, rider second” (as observed by George Morris himself) and are now dealing with a crop of junior riders who don’t seem to know the merit of hard work, especially in the cold.
We need less glamorization of the winter circuits and more attention and recognition of the northern-dwelling, Carhatt-wearing, frozen-to-the-bone-but-still-going-to-the-barn-anyway kinds of equestrians. Show me the riders who double up on the gloves and shove toe-warmers in their boots to fill water buckets or change blankets! Show me the horse owners that drive through snow and ice to check on their ponies even on days when it’s too cold to ride!
Though your Instagram discover page might only show you pictures and videos of ponies and palm trees, please don’t ever think of that as a requirement or a defining measure of success. Yes, showing in the sunshine and owning a string of horses is amazing, but so is conquering the cold to spend quality time with the four-legged members of your family.
This sport expects a lot out of us—time, a love and respect for horses, and an awful lot of hard work. But what it doesn’t expect is for you to HAVE to pack up the barn and head south for the winter. Remember that winter doesn’t last forever and that gaining a horse’s trust and respect, even in the cold, is just as beautiful as any 80° F day.
Kate Kosnoff is a recent college graduate and founder of Riders for Well-Being and Glam Glitter Gal. She competes with Waffle, her hunter-turned-jumper across the Midwest. Visit her at glamglittergal.com or @glamglittergalkate on Instagram.