Let it Rain, Let it Snow!

Jec Ballou horse trainer jec aristotle ballou western dressage jec ballou dressage exercises for horse and rider jec ballou equine fitness beyond horse massage
Jec A. Ballou

By Jec A. Ballou

My student’s husband said it best when he quietly murmured, “You guys are insane,” before climbing back into his warm truck and pulling away from the arena. We, meanwhile, watched him drive down the road to a warm office somewhere as we stood in a combination of rain/snow, wind/hail, and frigid temperatures. I had come to this small isolated town to give a day of instruction to local dressage enthusiasts, who actually showed up for the occasion with horses in frozen trailers.

We all stood for one brief moment looking at each other, or what little we saw of each other, under layers of waterproof bundling. My feet froze to the insoles of my boots. My fingers throbbed, my eyes teared. We looked at each other with the storm swirling around our ears and questioned silently if we should cancel or proceed with the day. And just as silently, it was made clear that of course we would proceed as normal. A series of invisible gestures and gumption led us through our motions as if each of us said to ourselves, “We’re horse people, for goodness sake, this is what we do, now let’s get on with it!” That “what we do” part could be translated as: We routinely suffer extremes of weather.

You see, my student’s husband calling us insane had some truth. Horse people do activities with or for their horses in weather miserable enough to cancel any other event. Horse people will postpone weddings, cancel reunions and graduations for torrential downpours, but they will still go to a horse show, clinic, or group ride. They’d never imagine joining friends for soccer or a hike or anything else outside when the wind whistles against their doors. But a horse event? Sure. When the weather is so inclement they can barely see their hands in front of their faces, they will hesitate only a fractional second before saddling up.

This is just another illogical thing about life with horses. It’s almost as if we all solemnly assume that foul weather is part of the deal with horses, whereas elsewhere in our lives we have more sense. A lot more.

I, for one, am an avid cyclist, yet I’d never dream of pedaling down the road for a long spell in rain, hail, or mud. The notion strikes me as impossibly unbearable. Given the same rain, hail, and mud, though, you’ll likely find me out on horseback. I can’t explain it. I recall recently riding a horse for a client while big chunks of icy hail bounced off my face and collected along the horse’s crest. In the same conditions, you would never find me on my bike, out for a walk, or for that matter doing anything other than huddling under a comforter in front of the fire.

And next time a hail storm pushes through, I’ll probably once again be out on a horse. I’m a horse gal. It’s what we do.

Jec Ballou horse trainer jec aristotle ballou western dressage jec ballou dressage exercises for horse and rider jec ballou equine fitness beyond horse massage

Main photo: Shutterstock Anghi

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