1. When winter begins, you’re always totally excited for the extra sleeping hours and completely self assured that it won’t be that bad, really. Plus, think about all those adorably cozy moments you can have around the fireplace!
2. The first time it snows, you basically can’t stop taking pictures with your phone. You secretly hope that it accumulates enough to warrant calling all your friends and going sledding. Let’s have fun in the snow!
3. When it’s consistently cold, and you pretty much embrace the fact that it takes you upwards of 20 minutes to apply all the layers of coats in the morning. You feel like the Michelin Man heading to the barn: normal.
4. Suddenly, after holding strong for several weeks, your resolve breaks. This. Is. Just. Not. Okay.
5. Day after day passes with the bitter cold mixing with rain/sleet/ice/snow/snice coming down. All your non-horsey friends make fun of the ridiculous amount of clothing you wear to the barn. Oh, please, you try staying outside for several hours at a time!
6. Every day, as soon as you’ve lost feeling in your fingers and toes, all you can think about is how many hours before you can crawl back into bed and pull up all the covers around your neck.
7. Checking the weather forecast becomes a two to three times daily habit. Is it optimism? Nope, more like seeking confirmation that this actually is the winter from hell.
8. After a few days of relative warmth (above 20 degrees!) you look at the 10-day forecast and see three straight days of snow, accumulating above your knees.
9. When you see pictures of people who went south to Aiken or Ocala riding in their T-shirts, you’re secretly like:
10. The thought of dealing with one more frozen hose, one more busted ice-filled water bucket or pick-axing one more water trough fills you with an unimaginable rage.
11. Changing blankets on your horses becomes actual torture. Well, at least you’re getting a workout from lugging all these heavy weights around? Maybe you’ll take up weight lifting, that’s an indoor sport, right?
12. And then, suddenly, there’s one actual warm day. Like, above 40 degrees! You wonder if this qualifies as T-shirt weather and feel an unmitigated joy spreading through your body. You feel like dancing.
13. Just kidding. Polar Vortex 2.0!
14. At this point, you’ll try anything. You become superstitious and randomly religious. Anything to bring back the sunshine and the warm weather!
15. You start obsessively searching vacation deals in tropical places. Living Social offers a deal for four people to go to Jamaica for $550 each. Great, let’s go! It’s not like you get to spend that money on horse shows anyway, since you haven’t been able to ride with any regularity since November.
16. You start worrying that next time you actually do get to compete your horse, it will end up like this because you didn’t get to ride all winter, and you both forgot everything.
17. But for now, you can simply take comfort in the fact that everybody you know is suffering from winter stress-related issues, and all anyone can do is accept their fate and settle down with a nice cup of hot chocolate. Spiked hot chocolate, let’s be real here.