Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I’m not sure how it snuck up on me this year. It happens every year, around the same time. Some how I just got busy, I was at a horse show the weekend that it occurred. I haven’t been the same since. Daylight Savings Time ended on November 7th. We set the clocks back one hour. Most people look forward to this event as it means an extra hour of sleep for that one night. I dread it every year; to me all it means is impending darkness, which will only get worse over the next month.

I am ok with the darkness in the morning. I wake up at 4:30am four days a week. I am used to it being dark when I get up. I don’t mind going to work in the dark, I have faith that the sun will eventually come up each day. What I struggle with is going to work in the dark, and then coming home when it’s dark. I feel like I am living inside a poorly lit Gotham City in the Batman movie (the 1989 Michael Keaton one).

I leave my office at 4:00 in the afternoon. It takes me 30 minutes to get home. I left a little late one day last week. In the middle of my short commute, the traffic lady on the radio announced that sunset would be at 4:39pm that day. I looked at the clock in my truck, I was only halfway home and it was now 4:30pm. 9 minutes, the sun would go down before I even made it home that day.

My routine has changed in the last two weeks. I change out of my work clothes and into riding clothes as quickly as I can. I dash out the door to the pasture, promising to continue the conversation with my husband when I get back inside. I throw a hunter's headlamp inside my pocket and head out to get Grace. She seems to feel the urgency, as least that was the case last night as she danced out of her pasture gate and promptly stood up on her hind legs. I don’t spend a lot of time brushing her before we head out to the arena to either work on the lunge line or ride bareback.

Last night was a lung line session. It was an easy call considering the way she came out of the pasture. We had a weird windstorm that blew in right when I came home, causing Grace to be extra wild! I have trot and lope poles set in the small arena to work her over. I was really impressed by how well Grace was moving last night. I had worked her hard over the weekend, more so on Sunday. There was a moment on Sunday’s ride where I had to step up and be the trainer and ask her to do something she didn’t want to do. After the initial “I can’t possibly do that” tantrum, she did was I asked and the rest of the ride was wonderful. Still I felt bad about pushing her to that point, so bad in fact that I picked up a 10 pound bag of carrots at the grocery store later that day. No worse for the wear, she was moving beautifully last night. It didn’t take long before the darkness set in and we headed back home.

With my headlamp turned on and firmly pressed against my forehead, I now took the time to brush the Princess. I let Grace graze outside her pasture while I searched for manure piles to pick up out of the mud. I could hear a horse moving in the neighbor’s outdoor arena. I looked up and could barely make out the figure of a gray horse being ridden. It never occurred to me to ride my horse in the dark. I guess she can see, so maybe I don’t have to. Is it safe? I supposed if we worked at the walk?

I just have to remind myself that this is only temporary. Spring will be here again, someday. I have to tell myself every year that it will get better. In the meantime, I intend to haul out to the barn twice a week. I was able to ride there last Thursday and Friday. I was there from 5:30 – 7:00, which wasn’t too bad. My neighbors are in the process of rebuilding their barn. I’ve been told that the lights will be back in the indoor arena sometime soon and I have to ok to ride there. I should be able to keep Grace going 5-6 days a week between the barn, riding at home on the weekends and doing some work in the dark. I might want to stock up on batteries for the head lamp in the meantime.


  1. Wow. I just realized I had forgotten how much earlier the sun sets other parts of the country. I guess it's been 7 years now that I've lived in Florida...how easy to forget the parts I hated about New England winters!!!

    I do sympathize completely with your lack of daylight, and will try to be more appreciative of the sun setting around 6:30 here. :) Spring will be here before we know it!

  2. 6:30pm! Wow! It makes me understand why our snowbirds head to Arizona for the winter. I do love it here. The summers make the winter worth the wait.

  3. Im dreading this winter for that very reason. I already am having temper tantrums over the last week!! I had to split my pasture cleaning to two days instead of my usual 1 in order to have enough daylight to get a pasture done. I race from work at 4:30 to try and get at least 15 min of light- and IM sure you know that cleaning pastures in the dark is an unsuccessful event.

    *Sigh* at least I have lgihts in the arena. This is something I told Wes was a MUST when we put ours in. Just one flood light please! :)

  4. Me too! I hate this early darkness crud. Other than counting the days until I can see my horses in the daylight during the week again, I've been busy thinking of different groundwork exercises I can do with my horses when I can't actually see them. I haven't come up with many yet...

  5. Smazourek - check out Peggy Cummings. I need to start doing some of her work again. She has a really good ground work program that any horse can benefit from.

  6. I hate, hate, hate the time change. It make everything harder, but you seem to have it figured out!

  7. I have the same reaction every year! And yes, horses can see in the dark amazingly well, if you have an arena with good footing (i.e. no tripholes), you can school at whatever gait you like. Perhaps some of those little solar lights on the outside of the ring as landmarks for you - grace won't need them!