by Laura Schonberg
Like many mammals, I want to hibernate in the winter: sit in front of the fire, eat pasta, read a book, etc. Dog walks and morning feedings at the barn are in the dark; going to and from work is in the dark; evening chores or horse work is in the dark. And if it’s just dark, we’re lucky. Let’s not talk about the seasonal rain, wind, mud, wet snow, or ice. It’s no wonder that we tend to avoid getting our horses out now, or making the time to move toward horsemanship goals.
This time of the year offers exceptional opportunities for book learning and making plans for the new year. Researching a topic that’s personally relevant, useful, or interesting is an excellent use of time. Asking for references or recommendations for journals, books, or other publications means you are reaching out to others and can learn something new to pass on. Taking the time to watch videos (with that bowl of pasta), relevant to your riding goals, is invaluable. Consider combining it with journaling, or reflecting on a video of yourself.
Finding a local trainer that has indoor facilities is a great way to stay in shape and motivated to grow toward the skills you’re focused on. Trailering out to work in an unfamiliar space will incorporate foundational ground work and horsemanship. It’s a perfect opportunity to assess and sharpen basic skills.
Many riders in the Northwest are committed to riding year- round and there are dozens of functions during the winter. Make the decision to join a local club or group, audit a class, attend a function, competition, or other event. It will get you out of the house and with like-minded people. You never know where inspiration might show itself!
Finally, it’s the best time of the year to do some shopping for deeply discounted products like winter riding gear and horse tack. Sharing deals with your riding friends is fun and researching products is informative and helpful for future issues.
Remember, something is better than nothing so use these dark, wet weeks for reading, writing, talking about, and watching equine activities. Better yet, when the weather breaks (and it will) go to an arena to apply what you’re learning. It will all pay off in the upcoming sunnier season.
Laura Schonberg works for the Oak Harbor School District. Horses were what grounded her as a child and even as an adult she can’t seem to get enough horse. Now in her 40’s, Laura owns three horses she started herself and pursues several disciplines, including dressage and moving cows.