Ah, Winter. My least favourite season.
Don’t get me wrong; I understand the allure of it all, but I feel the media slightly over-glamorises it. We are lead to believe that Winter consists solely of luxurious woolly jumpers, hot chocolates a-plenty, and cosy afternoons cuddled up in front of the fireplace, most likely looking out over a landscape of post-card worthy crisp, white snow.
Reality check. Firstly, snow is cold and wet and not nearly as fun and/or romantic as it appears in the movies. Secondly, I am much more likely to step out of my front door to blinding rain and howling wind than to be greeted by picturesque snow … but either way, it’s not my idea of fun!
Up until last year, I really struggled with Winter. I am an enthusiastic equestrian and am very lucky to have my very own perfect, not-so-little bundle of joy who requires me to be at his beck and call twice a day, every single day. Woody is made of hardy stuff; he’s a hairy “good do-er” (in other words, he gets fat at the mere sniff of fresh green grass), however, over the years has been spoilt rotten and now demands into his stable well before it’s dark and throws a tantrum when he’s left out in the rain. More the fool me, now I have more mucking out to do in the Winter.
For many equestrians, the worse part of Winter is the darkness. We country gals were bred to cope with miserable weather and mud spilling over the top of our wellies, but being at the stables in constant darkness can take its toll on your mental health.
Two winters ago, I pushed myself to the absolute limit. I had two horses at the time; one who was recovering from an injury and followed a daily rehab schedule and a youngster who needed an infinite amount of exercise to keep his brain from erupting. I mucked out and rode one in darkness in the morning, went to work in an office from 8.30 am – 5 pm then rode again in the evening, in the dark again. I was also running my own business on the side so following the evening ride, I would rush home, kiss my other half a brief “hello”, wolf down my tea then turn on the laptop to start work again. I do not know how I did it. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted, and my lack of vitamin D was not helping one bit.
Fast forward to Winter 2019, and I’ve gone full time for my own business (an equestrian performance brand called Apt Cavalier) and reduced my responsibilities to one horse again. I have found that one of the best things about working for myself is that I can experience the true meaning of flexitime. I got into a routine where I got up and did an hours work, then went to the stables to muck out and turn out when it was light. I then stopped work around 3pm and went to the stables, again in the daylight, to ride and put Woods to bed. Once I was home, I would crack on with work and get some more things ticked off my to-do list before we had dinner and I stowed my laptop away for the evening.
Being able to visit the stables during daylight hours has alleviated the dread I used to feel whenever someone mentioned the “W” word. It’s made my life easier, my mood better, and my hobby more fulfilling. Because that’s exactly what it is, riding and caring for my horse is a hobby, and by definition, it should be something I enjoy.
I’ve always been a great believer in the importance of finding a work/life balance, and feel very lucky to be in a position now where I can put it into practice. Because of this routine, I no longer dread this time of year or obsessively count down the days until Winter solstice. Instead, I can focus on enjoying the time I am so privileged to spend with my big hairy child.
That being said, I still haven’t changed the way I feel about that white fluffy stuff, so please DON’T let it snow, let it snow, let it snow this Christmas…
Regional Reporter - Scotland
A short, artificially blonde, just-turned-30-year-old with a healthy mix of positivity and sarcasm. We are based in Tweedbank in the gorgeous Scottish Borders and I own and run my own equestrian performance brand. My two loves (excluding my long suffering non-horsey other half, of course) are horses and wine and during normal non-pandemic summers we spend most of our free weekends competing, mainly eventing, plus we have recently welcomed our first foster dog to our family. When I’m not on the back of a horse I’m probably walking, eating, drinking or watching trashy films on Netflix … usually a combination of the above!