Talking to my dear friends farther north has made me grateful , kinda, for my soppy, coastal swamp. Even if you have never owned animals that require outdoor care in inclement weather, I'm sure you can imagine what dealing with feet of snow, gale force winds and plunging temps can be like while attached to a one thousand plus pound animal who finds the whole deal as vexing as you do. Horses are experts at mixing "yikes" and "woohoo" in large and equal amounts. This usually results in a awe inspiring athletic display that makes us wish we had our cameras, OR picking ourselves out of the nearest mud puddle, thicket, snow bank, and/or tree branch and wondering why all our money and time is spent toward this very frightening, very ungrateful animal!
I hear stories all the time about how old cream puff became"weather challenged" and uncharacteristically mashed their human, while their human was trying to "rescue" them from said weather. What to do ? What to do? This is simple miscommunication folks. Here's our take on the situation: "oh no its_____________(insert weather challenge, snow wind, rain , thunder) out! Poor Cream Puff I better go out QUICK and get her to shelter!" So then we attire ourselves properly against the elements and feeling very confident our animals are thinking just what we are, we scurry out to right this wrong. What are we feeling? Well, angst, tension, hurry, fear,impatience, misery from what ever element is washing over us....and we approach our yikes/woohoos with this. They on the other hand are thinking "weeeeeee, yikes, weeeeeeeeeeeee, yikes yikes, waaaaahooooo!" Then they spy a oddly bundled energy bomb moving quickly toward them. they recognize that this could mean, "food, change of venue or just as easily...... hey, shes come to yikes -woohoo with us. YAY!" Here's where the trouble starts. We have all heard the saying"leave your emotions in the tack room" This is very good advise. But don't forget "train where you can and not where you can't" and "it takes as long as it takes". The "where" in the last statement includes emotional spaces not just the obvious physical spaces like a challenging spot on the trail or by the"scary" end of the arena. Emotional space is your mind set and energy under the same distractions your horse is experiencing. Are you thinking about how quickly you can catch him up and get you and he out of this weather? Are you wishing the snow wasn't dripping down your cheeks into the neck of your jacket? Are you wondering if all the horses are out to kill you by being way the heck down the field away from the gate? Are you wondering why this is taking so long and why you tried to do this in the first place? hmmmmmmmmm? Probably! Human nature after all. But what should be considered is the fact that you will have to be focused, flexible and serene for as long as it takes to achieve your goal...which may or may not be your horses goal.
Always attend to the horse you have today, in the moment. Not the horse you usually have. Now , you may think as you read this that I advocate training during a dangerous weather event, that's not the case. But I am saying that you should be prepared to if you have chosen this time to interact with your horse. Relax, Focus and Breathe. Start training where ever your horse tells you to start and watch your successful experiences pile up.