Advice From a Snowpocalypse Survivor

Photo by Cortney Bryant. Photo by Cortney Bryant.

The Mid-Atlantic region was crippled by a brutal winter storm over the weekend, with parts of the region receiving over 30 inches of snow. To all the eventers and equestrians who weathered the storm: I feel your pain, everyone. I really do. I’m not going to lie though, I’m glad it’s not me this time. I had enough snow within one month last year to last me the rest of my life.

Here north of Boston we only received a laughable dusting over this past weekend, but hearing about the snow totals in other parts of the east coast had me thinking about some of the lessons I learned from last winter. As a Snowpocalypse 2015 Survivor myself, I hope I can impart some advice to those affected by Snowpocalypse 2016:

My horse, Maggie, surveys her paddock during the first of several blizzards that hit Massachusetts in early 2015.

My horse, Maggie, surveys her paddock during the first of several blizzards that hit Massachusetts in early 2015.

1. Keep an eye on your barn and indoor arena roofs.

Barns in the Bay State learned a hard lesson last year: clear the snow off your barn and arena roofs or potentially suffer devastating consequences. Unfortunately, at least two barn roofs have already collapsed as a result of this weekend’s blizzard (one in Poolesville, MD and the other in Alum Creek, WV).

Thankfully, neither collapse resulted in any severe injuries or casualties to horses or humans. If the snow isn’t sliding off your barn or arena roof, look for any cracked beams and listen for any unusual groaning or creaking coming from the rafters.

Keep in mind that wet snow is much heavier than powdery snow, so you may not have a problem on your hands until the temperature rises or until you receive more precipitation. Keep monitoring your roof for as long as there is any significant amount of snow on it and if you’re concerned about it, grab a shovel and get up there! (Just be careful!)

Photo by Montgomery County Fire, via WUSA 9 on Facebook

2. Go outside anyway.

As long as it’s safe and any travel bans have been lifted, just get out there anyway. If you’re the one in charge of feeding and mucking out, then this point isn’t even negotiable — we know horses don’t take snow days. But if you’re not the only responsible for the barn then you may be tempted to just sit inside and sulk about not being in Ocala. Trust me: you’ll feel much better if you go outside.

Go groom and hug your horse. We all know that beautiful barn smell can always cure what ails you.

Go help your barn owner/manager shovel. You’ll feel much better having pitched in and they’ll surely appreciate the extra hand.

If you’re truly snowbound, however, I’m sure you can find a few ways to kill time while you thaw out.

There’s {snowbody} I’d rather spend my day with #ClearLaveer

A photo posted by Alexa Eleanor Ehlers (@alexa.eleanor) on

3. Try to have some fun with it.

In my eyes, the only fun thing about owning a horse in winter is getting to ride in the snow – so go enjoy it! Nice powdery snow isn’t too hard for your horse to trot though, even with 20+ inches, but it will still make them pick up their knees and give you both a workout!

Pro Tip: You’ll stay warmer if you ride bareback! (and if you slide off, at least you’ll have a soft landing!)

4. Stay positive.

This one is tough, I know, but I promise, spring WILL come. You will gallop through green fields again. You will jump coops and corners and brush fences and you will sweat your brains out under your helmet and safety vest.

Even though your training plans might be currently derailed, don’t despair. It might not seem like it now, but you’ll still have time before your first event to get back in the game.

Stay strong everyone! Keep on keeping on, and Go Eventing.