Embrace the Mud

“A horse that comes in covered poll to dock in mud is a happy horse.”

All photos by Kate Kosnoff.

The heavy snowfall that blanketed much of the east coast and even parts of the Midwest over the past several days made the first week of spring more than a little underwhelming. Snow brings eventual melting, and with April showers on the horizon, equestrians everywhere have one thing in common to look forward to: muddy pastures and outdoor arenas.

I could write pages upon pages about the negative characteristics of mud, like that it can be home to all sorts of nasty fungi which can cling to horse’s coats for months, or that—if deep enough—it can squelch a shoe right off of a hoof. But rather than curse the mud and shake my fists at the skies, I am choosing to embrace the mud.

Why? Simply put, a horse that comes in covered poll to dock in mud is a happy horse. Equestrians can worry about the health and happiness of our equine partners until the sun burns out, but when a horse swings his head over his stall door with a gleam in his eye and mud matted into his mane, it’s obvious that he had a good romp in the paddock and just got to be.

I say this so often that I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but we are lucky for every moment we get to spend around horses and we owe it to them to give them ample downtime between shows, lessons, clinics, and all of the other crazy things we ask them to do that they comply with willingly. In a sense, the mud is a visual representation of a happy horse enjoying the leisurely parts of his program.

Sure, it would be easy to complain about the mess that spring rain brings. But if spending more quality time grooming my horses is truly the only “side effect” of mud, then who could argue with that? Not me.

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