Earlier in the Fall, I mentioned I wanted to do some blog posts on how to make winter more bearable. I got some suggestions for topics (thank you!) which I will address in a future post on training for winter life.
But to get started, I thought it worthwhile to mention how grateful I am for winter. Sometimes it can be hard to remember why we live this far north and often I think it's because at least the summers up here are heavenly. But there are a lot of reasons to be grateful for winter itself.
The first thing most people mention is: NO BUGS. That is indeed a reason to celebrate. My horses spend more time in the sheds in summer to escape from bugs than they do in winter to escape from weather. This summer I had my first experience with "sweet itch". Previously I had only heard of it in Thelwell cartoons but my poor Kizzy pony found it was nothing to joke about. She had enormous welts and was miserably itchy, all caused by tiny biting midges. Our days became a rotation of bathing, itching and trying to find ways to get the necessary medications into her. Neither of us was sad to see that come to an end and we've had a nice long reprieve.
And speaking of parasites, the landscape above is not a friendly environment for any parasite which spends a portion of its lifecycle outside of the horse on the ground. They may awaken when it warms up again, but some must die or be weakened by extreme temperatures and conditions.
Winter offers interesting training opportunities, not the least of which is a break. I can be thankful I don't have access to an indoor (ok, I really had to stretch for that one). My horses get very different training experiences in the winter and that will be the topic for another day, but at least it's a variety. We kept working as long as we could into the early snows but the footing has now put an end to that, even when the temperatures are mild. We may get opportunities here and there, depending on the winter, but for now, we'll focus on things we can work on inside, in a stall or the barn aisle: things which get neglected during the sunny days of summer when we want to be outdoors and taking advantage of the warmth and sun.
There are physical advantages for health when the snows come. Mariah came in with a small cut on her pastern the other day, but I did not need to worry about bugs irritating it, dirt getting into it, or swelling. The cold and snow take care of all three of those things! My hoof trimmer also mentioned how much she loves the way the snow packs nicely into hooves to stimulate the frog and sole with every step.
Finally, I love the silence of winter. We live in a quiet and remote place, but even here in the summer there are sounds of distant neighbors, cars passing on the road and again, those darn bugs buzzing around. The snow not only cuts down on noisy outdoor activities, but it muffles the world. Each morning, the barn cat, George, and I spend a few minutes leaning on a dutch door, admiring the scenery and discussing things. The only sound is his purr and I love it.
Bookends Farm wishes you peace, happiness, love and gratitude in the coming year~