The Equestrian “Lifestyle” – Arctic Vortex Edition

The Chronicle of the Horse posted a blog entry refuting the notion of the equestrian lifestyle “gangam style”. If you look at popular culture, the equestrian lifestyle means you sport an expensive watch while meandering around the “estate” in haute couture fashions while your immaculately groomed (we presume by someone else) glistening steed placidly strolls beside you while wearing a gleaming bridle that represents a month of my income. The CotH blog made a number of accurate points, however, at the mention of eucalyptus tree, it became apparent  that the blogger dwells in a warmer climate than ours.

Full disclosure – many of the ideas for this (including the title) came from suggestions from my borders.

Most of that last two months has been spent experiencing record cold. We have actually had very little snow and most of it is very dry and blows away. Here we do not need to spend ridiculous amounts of money on trendy treatments to exfoliate our skin. We allow the wind to drive the dry snow into any uncovered portions of our face to bring out that healthy wind-burned look. Collegan for these lips – no thank you – ours are naturally made to stand out by being dried, chapped and swollen. The lovely shine on them comes not from being stretched to supernatural proportions but copious layers of chap-stick.

We had a good time laughing about the Dover Saddlery catalog not too long ago. It featured a girl in a (at least for the barn) provocative pose with her hair fully blown out and a trendy top paired with her breeches. Most of us have breeches bought at “deep discount” prices or they are just jeans. Tops tend to be clothes no longer fit to be worn in any other situation. Our hair pretty much only makes an appearance for the moment when the hat is removed and the helmet put on. We sport pony tails, fly-away strands and helmet head more often than not. Actually when someone shows up dressed for the “real world”, it causes quite a stir and the occasional “how can I help…holy heck you clean up well!”

With current temperatures, the barn appears to be a gathering place for a “Stay-puffed Marsh mellow Man Look-Alike Convention”. Somewhere under layers of Carhartts, old coats, sweatshirts, hats, scarves, mittens, snow pants, etc are people who most of the year, I could easily recognize.

The horses are no better. Since single digit or below zero’s temperatures were not enough, Mother Nature decided to toss in some impressive wind chills. Like someone taking off roller skates and then trying to walk around, I am afraid that if at this point we stripped the horses of their blanket and tossed them outside, they would just tip onto their muzzles due to the change in weight and balance. I currently rate my approval of blanket manufactures based on whether or not I can fasten blankets without having to take my gloves.

We are currently down to one hydrant in the barn that is not frozen and bucket-ing water to stalls. The pasture hydrant is frozen so we run a hose from the indoor, fill the heated pasture tub and then promptly roll the hose up and return it to the tack room. One of the horses had a moment of extreme bad judgment and took out the corner post of the pasture that the gate attaches to and with the frozen ground we had to drive a post where we could, so we have one gate to slide back and forth rather then two. This means there is another trip up to the pasture every day and the gate is always closed in whichever direction is more inconvenient.

I ride about once every week, so winter progress has been painfully slow. One regular lesson client had rats eat the wiring harness of their truck and that turned into a six week saga, most of my borders have the sense that god gave a chicken and choose not to ride, so I am generally down to one to two lessons a week. Getting my own lesson in has become a joke and I think I have forgotten what my instructor of nearly three decades looks like.

One of our borders horses is convinced that he has indoor plumbing in his stall and entertains himself by regularly pooping in his water bucket. Scrubbing a bucket in sub-zero temperatures truly endears an animal to you. Even the horses owner is finding this behavior less than cute. While I have logged plenty of time scrubbing said bucket, the horse seems to time it so that he poops in his water bucket after evening grain and before night check, thus allowing for maximum bonding time watching your owner scrub your poop out of your bucket. How many of us dreamed of that lovely scenario while wishing our parents would buy us a pony?

We are actually supposed to have a warm up this week. Of course, where we are it means we are going from extreme winter weather warnings to flood warnings. On the bright side we are not bored on the scenic shores of Lake Erie.

-Beer budget dressage, y’all.


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