Fall Ahead, Spring Back?

Lila and Skybreaker 2014 Lila and Skybreaker 2014

Every year whether we like it or not, clocks are set an hour ahead or an hour back, depending on which end of winter we are sitting on. Even though Vermont winters are not exactly my cup of tea, gaining an extra hour of sleep last night felt awfully refreshing after spending the previous day picking up leaves by the thousands in the freezing cold rain.

The weather has officially turned for the worse in New England. The beautiful horse farm is starting to look rather bleak with its almost bare trees, feisty and furry horses hiding out in their sheds, and minimal human interactions. The cold air has arrived and winter is looming.

Even though the saying is, fall back, spring ahead, when it comes to daylight savings,  I can’t help but think from an event rider’s point of view, who basically lives in the snowy tundra year round, that the saying out to be re-worded: fall ahead, spring back.

Every year, everyone at Tamarack Hill Farm says the summers fly by. Well, this year really did slip away through our finger tips. One minute we are gearing up for our first event in Area 1, and the next we preparing for the annual GMHA team jumper challenge, and then all of a sudden the September GMHA horse trials has come and gone.

Personally, I absolutely love and detest the end of the year. There’s one part of me who feels like I am riding the best I ever have, and that my horses are all going exceptionally well. We all feel “in it,” and at the top of our game. Every fall, I feel like I am actually ahead and prepared!

vinnie sept jump school

This summer was incredible. I finally reached my goal of going Prelim on Vinnie. I tackled the hardest cross country course I have ever seen at the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy.

I jumped Skybreaker nearly five feet several weeks ago. My three stride eye seems to be more reliable and more consistent than ever before. My skills on the flat have improved, and I feel like Im ready for more challenges, more competitions and tons more jumping.

However, those wishes and those thoughts will be forced to stew on the back burner. The season has concluded and the horses need down time.

Staying motivated and doing my winter homework seems daunting, lonely, uninspiring, and at times, extremely challenging. With nobody in the area, or at the barn this winter, I am forced to keep ticking. This is not a pity party, but reality for so many of us.

How do we all stay focused this winter? How do we maintain our riding and keep our horses ticking? How do we carry over the confidence we gained in 2014 and transfer that self-assurance for 2015? How do we come out of the cold indoor, or off the winter trails feeling prepared? How frustrating and exciting it is to feel so amazing at the end of the year and so pathetic the following spring.

How do I survive during the grey winter months? I make goals and I stick to them. I also try to be very realistic. If the weather is unbearable I don’t make myself feel guilty about not riding. I know the horses appreciates not being ridden when it’s a grueling negative ten below. I like to keep riding as long as I can, until the temperatures are too unkind. I also try and go to indoor jumper shows which are extremely fun and help give you specific homework every month. I like to partake in other winter sports to stay fit and enjoy the snow. So….how will you survive this winter if you are a fellow northerner?!


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