How I Dealt with the Heat this Week
First, my deepest sympathy to all the people and horses out West dealing with the wildfires and heat, as well to the people and horses in the Mid-West and Mid-Atlantic regions after the horrible wind storm. My prayers are with you. However bad it is here in NC, it is much, much better than what you are going through.
I didn’t get to ride much this week, in the earlier, cooler part of the week our minivan was at the repair shop so I could not get my lesson. Wednesday morning was absolutely marvelous, no humidity and in the high 60’s, and there I was stuck at home. Today, Sunday, the prediction was for a muggy 90° F by 9:00 AM, predicted for 104-105 this afternoon. I took pity on myself and Bobby and canceled my ride, I would have chanced it if Bobby was a reasonably fit Arab, but as a very overweight roly-poly pony Bobby cannot cool down quickly especially with the high humidity, humidity so high that I feel like I can cut the air with a knife. I got the feeling that all that Bobby wanted to do was hang out in the shade, since that is all I want to do also I figured it was the best for both of us to wait for a slightly cooler day. Like next Sunday when it is only supposed to get up in the 90’s, comparatively a blast of cool Arctic air.
Friday I did ride even though it was our first day of over 100° F, eventually it got up to 105° in the afternoon. I got to the stable at 8:00 AM, I had thought of cancelling but I figured I could go out and at least trim Mia’s hooves and put the fly spray on her. I took my ice vest (and tack) just in case I was physically able to ride after rasping her toes down. Fortunately the barn’s BIG fan was on and the humidity had not come yet, so after the hooves I let my son groom her, put on my ice vest and went to ride. There were quite a few more people around than usual at 8:00 AM, I had to share the ring with a rider (oh her horse had SUCH a nice hunter stride), Debbie was giving a dressage lesson in the other ring and 2 or 3 other riders arrived and were grooming and tacking up. Debbie told me she had to postpone the show they were putting on this weekend, the predicted heat was going to be too bad for both horse and rider.
As the other rider in the ring was working her horse at faster speeds than Mia’s walk I spent most of my time keeping out of her way. She went mostly on the fence, so Mia and I did our usual walk, mostly circling around the jumps and doing snake paths around and between them, at first gradual turns, then deeper turns mixed with partial turns on the hindquarters. When I was on the fence I made sure to enter the path after the other horse had passed. After our warm up I even trotted a little, the blast furnace had not turned on yet. Even with my ice vest and the low humidity I was sweating after our short trots. Mia was in much better shape than I was, I don’t think I even brought a sweat up on her since I ran out of energy so quickly when we trotted. After our first trot I stopped to cool down, looking at the neighboring pond. A log had appeared in the middle of the pond last week, when I first saw it I looked closely to make sure it did not move, occasionally we get alligators up here. The heron had also discovered it, he was contentedly standing on it instead of the shore, keeping away from the cattle. After that I rode a little bit more, and I got in another short trot then that was it, I could do no more. I think I rode 25 minutes before the heat defeated me.
My son took Mia in, leaving me to follow at my own pace. Having to use both canes to walk I stopped to rest in the shade of a tree, where the mother of the other rider in my ring was sitting in the shade. I asked her if she rode, and it was the usual story of yes, she had ridden when a girl and never gotten back into it in adulthood. I told her why I ride, that I have MS and riding keeps me walking on my own two feet, and lets me practice losing and then regaining my balance. Then I told her she should get back into riding because:
RIDING HORSES IS THE SECRET TO ETERNAL YOUTH.
Have a great ride!