Riding out the weather

Other nations reckon we Brits are obsessed by the weather, writes Carolyn Henderson. They could be right, but horse owners have a special take on it.

Long summer evenings? Some people might be dreaming of relaxing in the garden with an equally long, cool glass of something. But as a member of the Feedmark team points out, what’s important is that we can ride late in the evening without having to pile on layers of clothes or worry about getting everything done before it gets dark.

That presumes you haven’t already ridden at silly o’clock in the morning. When the temperature soars, 6a.m. hacks or schooling sessions set you up for the day, unless your horse or pony is susceptible to sweet itches and you need to avoid the midges.

Unfortunately, I’m a lark who is married to an owl and my owl gets grumpy about being woken up before he’s had his allocated hours of beauty sleep. Any tips on how to avoid a dawn chorus of grumbles will be gratefully received.

Another British characteristic is that whatever the weather, we’ll find something to moan about. The June Mediterranean heatwave was a novelty and there were smiles from those making hay while the sun shone, but then we got fed up with it. It was all #toohotforhorses and #toohotforjackets, although a few die-hard showing people dedicated to tradition insisted on staying buttoned up when judges suggested they remove them.

In my part of the world, the heavens suddenly opened and for the next 48 hours, we were studying instructions on how to build your own ark. The grass needed the rain, we assured ourselves – but couldn’t whatever deity controls the weather arrange for it to rain at night? Between 10pm and 5am would do nicely.

That rain soon turned to floods and had we built that ark, it would have been very handy for a trip to the Royal Norfolk Show. I take my hat off to the riders who gritted their teeth and turned in such spectacular performances – especially the showjumpers, who were rocking the  retro look  in what looked like transparent “pac-a-macs.” If you don’t know what I mean, ask your granny.

It could be worse. We could have the wrong sort of leaves on the bridlepaths, or snow balling up in our horses’ hooves. But even when the long days are just a memory, we’ll carry on riding – bundled up in layers and waterproofs if need be – because that’s what true Brits do.