Playful foals, newborn calves, wildflowers, branding irons, the smell of fly spray in the air—yes folks, spring is here!
By Kelli Neubert
April 22, 2016
In California, spring’s entrance is very subtle and drama-free. The light layer of frost that had kissed the ground in winter transforms into fog. Growing up, I remember chilly mornings gradually becoming cool mornings, which would warm into sunny, mild afternoons.
Springs in Colorado are more of a slow thaw. Our horses would shake the frost off their whiskers in the mornings as we threw them hay, and the ground would crunch beneath our feet as the trees started to wake up and bud from winter’s white. Our pasture numbers would grow daily with bright-eyed, bouncing calves, and we were all thrilled to store our heavy gloves until next year. The dull, muted tones of winter quietly morphed into a peaceful and lively springtime scene.
I can’t say that there’s much subtlety when it comes to springtime in Parker County, Texas. Here, winter’s end is loudly announced with lightning, rainstorms and the occasional tornado warning, pierced by days filled with bright yellow sunlight and breezy afternoons. The wheat pastures and live oaks are so green that sometimes I feel like I need to shield my eyes from their glow. The pipe pens on either side of our roads are dotted with fat, patient broodmares and their quick little foals, and the water tanks and creeks are full to the brim from recent rains.
Needless to say, I love this time of year. And if you are a horse person, no matter where you hang your hat, spring means four major changes:
1) Longer days
3) The appearance of slick, shiny hair coat
Now that I think of it, perhaps spring-cleaning was born from the other three changes. Our days are longer (hence, no excuse to shirk the task), there are more flies (and we discover that we ran out of good fly spray) and there is, in fact, fluffy clumps of shed winter horsehair in every crevice of our lives.
Regardless, around our outfit, the “vernal equinox purification process” has been examined, embraced and executed (in between tornado watches, that is). We’ve power-washed our saddle pads; cleaned and repaired our endless mound of bridles, bits and miscellaneous tack; and sent a couple of saddles to be worked over. We’ve tidied up our tack room and re-organized our medicine cabinets. We’ve restocked all our grooming supplies and veterinary products. We’ve sorted through our jackets, hats and outerwear and have made some necessary wardrobe cuts. Our horses are getting trimmed, wormed, vaccinated, and visited by the equine dentist. And the list continues.
There is certainly reward in this type of work. Although we feel blessed to ride for a living, it’s a welcome mental break to change our day up a little and dedicate some time to organization.
I encourage any and all of the horsemen and women out there to find some time this spring to do the same thing. Spruce up your tack rooms and allot some energy into cleaning and repairing your gear. Make sure that you have the necessary items in stock to keep your animals healthy and properly cared for. Assess your program for possible changes in nutrition and upkeep as we head into the busy season for riding and showing. Take the opportunity to groom and examine your horses and check for any changes in their behavior or physical appearance.
And last but not least, save a little time at the end of your day for yourself. Do some laundry. Take a shower. Because let’s be honest: between scrubbing saddles, tromping through springtime mud, and cleaning the tack room (did I mention all that horsehair?), you’re definitely going to need it.