Here on the farm, we've had over a foot of snow, maybe even 2 feet, fall since the beginning of the year. Add bitterly cold temperatures, frozen ground which later gives way to mud if in fact the temperature rises above 32 degrees, and shorter daylight hours are enough alone to drive an average person crazy. NOW consider having to take care of animals in that kind of weather - breaking ice in water troughs, carrying buckets, constantly offering hay to keep those animals warm, and normal chores taking twice as long to finish. Ready to go insane yet?
So if you're like me and trying to fight the winter blues, here are a few things to focus on until Spring finally arrives (33 days, 9 hours, 38 minutes...but who's counting?)
- Look for the hidden beauty amongst what winter leaves behind.
There's nothing more pure and beautiful than a field freshly covered in snow. Do yourself (and your horse) a favor, and assuming the conditions are safe, turn them out and let them play. I love capturing photos of our horses on the winter landscape. It's one of the few ways I can stop and remind myself to enjoy the cold and seemingly dreadful colder weather.
- On bad weather days, plan out your horse activities and goals for the year.
There's nothing more motivating than planning out upcoming shows, trail rides, or competitions. I'm a goal-setting, planner-type person. I like to have everything lined out and on the books so I can see what I'm working towards. This not only helps me stay focused, but also gives me something to look forward to.
- Reconnect with your horse.
Get your gelding out of the barn and go for a walk. Groom your mare. Take a goofy selfie. Heck, even something as simple as looking into their eyes and and just watching them "be" can be rewarding. (Note: I'd avoid doing this with the younger, rowdier ones. They tend to not be as peaceful and sane as the older ones.) Do something that reminds you why you have a passion for horses in the first place. Then go to the calendar and mark off the days left until spring arrives. :)
- Revisit your favorite moments from the previous year.
You know those pictures you captured during your week-long trail ride last summer? Or the candid photos taken at the horse show with your friends? Dig through your photo archives, print them off, and put them in a scrapbook or photo book.
- Don't take on the winter struggles on your own. Connect with other horse owners who are fighting the same winter battles you are.
Chances are, we're all fighting the same problems, but each of us have a different approach or solutions for those problems. Talk to other horse owners. Find out how they make things more manageable on the farm during winter, and share your frustrations. If anything, just ranting about the problem will help release some tension.