Forgive me, Sweden, for I have gotten soft

Growing up in Sweden was no preparation for living in the desert type summers we have here in the foothills.

This will be my 14th summer in the Sacramento Valley.  Still have not got used to the crazy summer climate that is about to start.  Without exception, it seems to warm up in early April (Although locals will claim I’m a liar and that it’s really only hot during mid summer.  Just the same way my mother would claim “It’s spring!” just because it said so on the calendar, April 1st, even though we’d still often have snow on the ground and the thought of baring any skin seemed risqué and cringeworthy, and not in a good way.).

Everyone else deals just fine with over-heating in full seat breeches and long socks, capped off with leather boots, a shirt, gloves, and a helmet. I convince myself that it’s all completely normal.  Fake that I’m not about to pass out already around 11 am.  That it does not feel at all as if breathing straight in to a hair dryer. It’s been an adjustment.

Summer mornings start at a cool 80 F (26 C) and quickly rise to some 95 F (35 C) – 110 F (43 C) depending on how lucky you are.  Weather reports will state it as a “cooling off” period if highs are only around 90 F (32) for a couple of days.

Around mid September, I’m grouchy, clammy, and have hallucinations about getting to cozy up in a long sleeve shirt someday, soon, next month, OK maybe end of October…

This winter, for what – the third year in a row (?) we’re dealing with a drought. No rain. Maybe only five days of wetness for the season preceding this weeklong stretch we’ve just entered with some wonderful storms coming in? The lakes are drying out, no green grass on the hills during the winter months, and very little snow higher up the mountain.

Not sure it makes a lot of difference, riding wise, here though. Even during wetter years, I’ve been told in SO many ways that arena riding during rain is uncalled for.  You just don’t really dressage in the rain here. Seriously. I didn’t get that when first starting out. Got scolded for leading the horse through the rain the 200 meters to the indoor arena without covering up that saddle! Got frowned upon for riding and tearing up the outdoor arena when I knew it was scheduled to rain the next day. Got a lecture about NOT riding the day after a downpour as it completely ruins the footing when it’s wet like that.  Waited for two weeks to get in a lesson which kept getting cancelled as there was sprinkles coming in every time we rescheduled.  Shamefully and apologetically drove the tractor with the drag after riding in an arena which had ben carefully flattened out in preparation for a rainy weekend.

So, I’ve been retrained to avoid equine arena activity during rain.  (Cannot call what La Prima and I are doing Dressage, it’s an activity.)  Besides they just pull their shoes.  (Which La Prima did this weekend.  Super farrier came out today to reapply.  As soon as the truck left  she promptly stepped right out of it AGAIN, after just a couple of easy trot laps in the round pen!!!  With clips on all 4.  We’re going nowhere, fast.)

A tripod - with three shoes only.
A tripod – with three shoes only.

Hanging  my head in shame over the weather set backs, and our standstill in the training due to shoe complications.  You don’t complain about rain in Sweden, it’s pessimistic and makes you  a boring person.  Where once I rode in flurries, snow storms, hail, mud rain (OK then, that’s not possible) and came back in with frost on the horse’s eye lashes and icicles hanging off the whiskers off the muzzle, I now have to call it the day as soon as the clouds roll in 😦 . Embarrassing.  I don’t ever remember horse shoes falling off either from slopping around in wet arenas back then.  Why is that?

With sunshine some 345 days out of the year here, I dutifully join the rest who do not work their horses in the rain.  Pitiful. Time to regroup and change.

Forgive me, Sweden, for I have gotten soft.

8 thoughts on “Forgive me, Sweden, for I have gotten soft

  1. Vi förlåter dig 😛 Och avundas dig . I år har det varit en mycket mild vinter, ingen is och knappt någon snö. Och det är MYCKET enklare att rida bra i regn och +1 C, än i ishalka och i -27 C. Hade vi haft sådana varma somrar som du pratar om, så hade jag nog ridit vid 3-tiden på morgonen.. Jag svettas ju som en gris när jag tränar redan nu, och då har vi +7 C.
    — Under en period var jag tvungen att ha boots på Lasse dygnet runt, för annars så flög framskorna hela tiden. Två år ungefär. Nu har han helt plötsligt bättre koll på fötterna , och nu behöver jag dem inte längre. Sätt boots på henne och se om skorna sitter kvar , är mitt råd alltså 🙂

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    1. Agreed – I definitely don’t miss the days of having to use studs in the shoes to give traction on icy days. (Not to mention the agony trying to remove the studs after with frozen fingers.) I have bell boots for her, new ones, fit well, and thought I’d ride with those all the time in the beginning. She’s got the most sensitive skin though, and got huge gashes in her pastern joint (Karled) after just a few days! I’ll get out and pick up some fleece lined ones ASAP. They can be used when riding, but it would be asking for trouble leaving them on the whole time… And it was in the pasture she pulled the shoe the first time. Arghhh! OK, I’ll see how it goes once we get a new set on Thursday.

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  2. Ha 😀
    This has been the wettest English winter on record. I’m pretty sure most English riders have ridden in the rain a lot this year! (And any of us who didn’t have flooded pastures, stables or homes were counting ourselves very lucky.) I can hardly remember what it’s like to ride in nice weather, but hopefully things are getting better now.

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    1. Sparrowgrass, I’d imagine England offers plenty of “rain riding” opportunities 🙂 What do you guys do with the tack? I grew up riding in rain, it was never an issue, but here everyone are very worried about the saddles. Now I’m sort of trained to be protective about the saddle too. We’re talking nice, new, dressage saddles with soft, smooth leather. After a serious “talking to” after taking one of those out in the rain several years ago, I’m now concerned about regularly soaking my own… You guys just ride in them, have them reflocked on a regular basis, and they get on OK with that? I’d love to put the wet leather phobia to rest…

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      1. Well I’m pretty inexperienced still, but as far as I can see, everyone just gets on with, cleans and conditions regularly and accepts it as a necessary evil! Trekking centers where riders are going to be out in the rain all day everyday at certain points of the year tend to use synthetic saddles, but average owners just sigh and get on with it! A nice saddle is a beautiful and expensive thing, but then so is a horse, and if the horse needs to be exercised under saddle that’s got to come first.

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        1. I was thinking of having a Wintec (synthetic saddle) as a spare for rainy days. Might just have to rethink the whole “rainy day” thing. We just have so few of them here… At the very least we should be able to go up and down the hill on the property some – the arena gets like a large sink hole and now I know her shoes will be sucked off there. It’s supposed to be a wet day tomorrow – if her sedative after the farrier wears off in time, I am getting ON!

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          1. I have a friend who loves her adjustable Wintec – her horse changes weight a lot and it saves her a lot of hassle and expense.

            Good luck getting a ride in!

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  3. Yes if I can get a super cheap Wintec I will. Just happens to be an uncomfortable saddle for me…
    Last night really loud thunderstorms of all things. Raining now. Still determined to get those shoes on and saddle up!

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