My family and I use to live in an old farm house right up the road from Tamarack. I will never forget one freezing cold night, my mom took my two sisters and I out to dinner, and maybe a show. We were all very young at the time. We all had adorable little dresses on, leggings, slip on shoes, and looked as cute as buttons. On our way home, naturally our car broke down about two or so miles from our house. It was one of those blizzard nights where there were huge snow drifts and wind whipping so hard your eyes teared up. It might have only been a coupe miles to our house, but I recall the hike felt like we were attempting base camp at Mount Everest.
Living in New England in the winter, at times, feels as though someone is taking a long, jaggedly-pointed stick and constantly poking and prodding you. Of course there are worse climates, and worse conditions, though there is definitely a reason why most people around here keep to themselves and have a somewhat cynical personality to follow. I may be biased, but I would have to argue that Vermonters are tough folk. Or they learn to become tough over time.
Conveniently, I have more spare time in the winter to spend with my brewing thoughts. I go over to the barn, trudge through the snow, wrestle with frozen buckets, continue with my daily chores, and pretend like life is just hunky-dory, when really all I want is to recline in one of those beach chairs, sipping on a drink with an umbrella, while enjoying my tropical vacation…but who doesn’t?
No matter how awful the mornings, the slipping on ice, the frozen fingertips, or the immense amount of shoveling that needs doing, I try and relate this agony to something more positive. For instance, how does suffering in the cold, wind, and ice help me become a better rider and competitor? How does this misery help me grow as a person? Why I am supposed to be here, right now, in this state, in this town, and in these conditions? There must be a silver lining…right??
For starters, hard work always gets you ahead. No matter what, if you are a hard and diligent worker, good things will follow in your direction. Having a strong work ethic is something to be proud of, and appreciate.
Secondly, coping with these (at times) wretched conditions really makes you appreciate the galloping, the xc schooling, and the warm summer day hacks. If you always had days where it was 70 degrees with a slight breeze and you were able to jump, hack and ride outside at your heart’s content, would you be as appreciative? I am not sure because I am only really accustomed to this one particular way of life. But I would like to think I am incredibly appreciative of springtime and readily available running water.
As much as I complain and dread this time of the year, I have a tremendous To Do list, as far as my horses and my riding is concerned. I want to be able to come out of the indoor this spring having accomplished great things. I want to accomplish the following and this is the exact time of year to hone in on these To Do’s…
1) Have all my horses more consistently, and more readily forward
2) To improve my eye – as it relates to seeing a distance to a jump
3) To remain calm, cool and collected even when serious challenges present themselves
4) Improve all my horses’ canters
5) Get a stronger center
6) Sit the trot for longer periods of time
7) Maintain, and add to my horses’ fitness
8) Maintain, and add to my own fitness
9) Challenge myself and my horses to the best of my ability
10) Go to some winter jumper shows
For all of you suffering up north this winter…what would you like to accomplish?!