So It’s Winter, Now What?

Ahhh ... summer days spent schooling cross country! Ahhh ... summer days spent schooling cross country!

To say that the thrill of the winter season has worn off would be an understatement. Oh, it’s not all horrific; in fact, there were lovely moments where my town, the village, and parts of this state looked like images extracted directly from a postcard. My uncle from Georgia always comments on the snow acting as a cleansing blanket for the earth and how natural and beautiful this weather can be. Couples want to retreat to romantic getaways in Vermont ski lodges, where fireplaces and cozy surroundings make their journeys worthwhile.

Except after six to eight weeks, the newness of the frigid temperatures and the various winter sports become old news. The cleansing blanket covering New England ought to be torched, and the excitement of skiing, sledding or skating lose the edge, and reality settles in. Mostly, life on a horse farm in the winter is far from glamorous, particularly this winter. The weather gods have been playing dirty tricks on us and stabbing us in the back every time we get an inkling that a sunny day might be around the corner.

After the holidays come and go, some of us react to the weather patterns negatively, to say the least. Depression begins creeping closer by the day, and you start to lose your summer motivation, and in some ways, your grip on reality. Not seeing the sun for weeks, along with minimal human interaction, can cause serious negative repercussions. Many Vermonters actually follow in their wildlife’s footsteps, where hibernation becomes a viable option. Once the New Year comes and goes, there comes this long stretch of nothingness where you either need to shape up or ship out.

Valonia and Pippa playing in the mud!

Valonia and Pippa playing in the mud!

So, here I am, not financially or emotionally prepared to ship out (quite yet), so I am going to shape up! Yes, the temperatures are miserable and the ice beneath the thin layer of snow is treacherous, but losing focus is not an option. I came into the winter and into the indoor with set goals, and I am going to reach those goals if it’s the last act I accomplish before the ice takes my life with one wrong step.

I came inside this winter determined to dramatically improve both my horses on the flat. I will get a stronger seat, and I will push myself to sit the trot for longer periods of time. I will use every inch of the indoor to the best of my ability. I will not ride randomly, and every day I will ride with a clear set of goals in mind. I will improve my ability to see three strides in front of a fence, and I will improve my jumping position. I will get better. I will get stronger, and I expect the same for my horses.

So the weather in New England and around the country has been off the charts this year. So the ice has created a skating rink that completely surrounds the main barn. So most of my friends have migrated to the southern regions in the U.S. So I can’t go trail riding in the snow because of the conditions. So — the list goes on forever. What am I and what are we going to do about it? Can we reach our goals? Can we turn gravel into diamonds? Can we shake this dreary, cold, depressing atmosphere and make the most out of a freezing situation?

The beauty of the winter months for me is that I am offered this extended period of time to practice and see what I am made of. Nobody but myself is around to tell me to work, or try harder. It’s up to me to reach my aforementioned list of will dos. It’s up to us to take our lessons, our competitions and our training and exchange those experiences for something grander and more valuable. Now is the time to study and do our various assignments. Not only do we hope to pass, but we long for perfect grades, so if I can reach these goals, so can you!

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