Seasons of a Riding Year

Much of the USA has four seasons of weather, and horseback riding and competing become integrally bound to these cycles and patterns.

In northern New England October means that the competition season is over, and that cold weather will get here soon. Tonight, in Strafford, Vermont, it`s meant to be a hard frost, in the low 20s. Leaves are changing color  and falling, the horses are getting fuzzy, the summer visitors are safely home, wherever that may be, the big yellow school bus trundles up and down Brook Road, and there`s a strange, sad sense of finality of a season, which comes every year as the days shorten.

When I was a kid, growing up with horses in Greenfield, Massachusetts, 60 years ago, the advent of true cold weather, usually by mid to late November, meant an automatic hiatus of riding. There were no indoor arenas, people didn`t go south, and the generally accepted strategy for dealing with December through February, or even to mid March, was to either pull the horses` shoes, or winter shoe them with borium tips, and let them have a long vacation.

 Now it`s a little of each. Some horses get turned out, some go to indoor arenas, and some get transported to warmer winter places. It`s not as if one method is right, and the others are wrong. All work well enough, if the humans use common sense, and good horsemastership.

Still, for those who live in the north, autumn brings a sense of closure and finality, reinforced by the knowledge that April is a long way away.

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