I live in the Charlotte region of NC, and our summers are long. And hot. And humid. Having grown up in Chicago, I’m STILL not used to the humidity here. It’s icky and it’s awful. I sweat so much I literally carry a towel around with me when I do anything outdoors. Walk down the driveway to get my mail? Get ready for some water works.
Given that it gets hot here in May, and stays that way until the end of September (or October, some years), if we want to do things, we need to suck it up. But there are a lot of differing opinions on that.
We have those that ride super early in the morning or super late in the evening. I can do neither of those, thanks to the little monsters called my children. If I want to ride, it has to be after work and before after-school care/camp/daycare pickup, giving me a window between 4:30-6 PM every day.
Then there are those that only ride when the temp/humidity is under a certain level. In July, our average daily humidity level is 72. Which, when combined with normal average temps of 94, sucks. So if I were to go that route, I’d pretty much never ride.
My normal lesson time with Trainer B is 1 PM. That’s about as awful as you can get, but it’d be hard for me to get there earlier and each time I’ve gone there later, traffic has been bad on the way back. 1 PM ensures I don’t have to rush in the morning, and can have a smooth trip back after. So 1 PM it is.
I’ve caught some flack for that. I’ve heard I’m putting my horse in danger, it’s cruel, unfair, etc. I’ve done the research and there are definitely some sources that agree with those viewpoints.
I don’t control ride times at shows. At CHP a couple weeks ago, our SJ time was 1:03, with XC right after. It was 92 with some insane humidity. It was gross.
This is how my horse finished XC:
He was still full of himself when I pulled up, and by the time we got back to the barns his breathing was normal. Within 10 minutes of being back in his stall, his temp was regular and he was happy to suck down a bucket of water and start munching his hay.
He had the next 2 days off, and he showed zero signs of being anything but perfectly fine. And when I got back on after 48 hours, P showed me exactly why he should never get a full 48 hours off.
So. The horse is pretty fit.
Now, if you normally ride when it’s cool out, or if you give your horse the day off when the temp reaches a certain point, I think it’s pretty unfair to then take that horse to a show (or anywhere) and demand it work in conditions it’s not used to.
My typical schedule usually includes:
Day 1: Dressage arena work. I usually pick a test and run through it and then work on specific elements that sucks.
Day 2: Hack 20-30 minutes around the farm. One of the hack days is always very low-key (more like wandering), and the other includes marching up/down hills in the pasture, lateral work around pastures, trotting up the long hill then galloping down the gallop lane, etc.
Day 3: Jump arena with lots of ground pole work. Have started adding gymnastics to this day.
Day 4: Hack 20-30 minutes around the farm.
Day 5: Lesson
Day 6: Off
Day 7: Usually a goof-off day. Bareback/bridleless/riding in costume/playing with weird objects/filming videos/giving kids pony rides, etc.
On work days, I’m usually on for about 40 minutes, with lots of walk breaks sprinkled throughout. Then he gets to cool off in front of the fans before going back out to the pasture when we’re done.
So how do you and your horse deal with summer? Do you have to manage them more carefully or do you just suck it up and ride in miserable conditions?