“And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
I love the changing of the seasons. The sweet spring days that awaken the earth with new growth. The hot, dry days of summer when the horses are turned out contentedly to graze. The crisp, colorful days of fall. And yes, even winter with is dark, cold, wet days! Every season has its joys along with its own specific set of challenges.
As winter moves into spring the days begin to lengthen causing the horses to begin shedding their winter coats. The temperatures also begin to warm up and can range from 70 to 30 degrees (in one day!). When you add intermittent rain showers to the mix, blanketing appropriately becomes somewhat of a challenge. I cannot tell you how time consuming it becomes putting on and removing blankets multiple times a day. However, spring is also the season of new birth, and there is no joy quite like welcoming a new baby onto the farm.
In the summer (aside from the flies) heat and water management become the biggest challenges. By mid-summer the horses have to be brought into the cooler barn during the day and ridden very early in the morning before the temperatures spike. A single horse drinks an average of 15 gallons of water a day – that’s a lot of water! This means that water troughs have to be checked and refilled regularly. The upside to all this hot weather is no mud! In the summer back country campgrounds beckon with their cool forested trails and the horse show season is in full swing.
Fall brings the onset of shorter days, cooler temperatures, and longer coats. Longer coats mean sweatier horses, and drying the horses off after riding can be a time-consuming business. The rainy season also begins again in the fall, and once again, extremes of temperature make blanketing a challenge. However, the rain also returns replenishing moisture to the ground, and there is nothing quite like going for a ride on a crisp fall day.
And so the cycle of seasons brings us back again to winter. We all know the unique challenges of winter in Oregon. Managing mud and flooding, and doing evening and morning chores in freezing temperatures (in the dark!). But as Tolkien so wisely put it, even winter eventually has its end.