It's not news that we've had a very hot summer in the Mid-Atlantic. The heat is a known quantity here, though this summer seems to have dragged on for quite a while, with no end yet in sight. So my crew and I have surviving the heat down to a science. The most important piece to our summer success has been my incredible staff, without whom I'm a red hot (yuk yuk yuk) mess, and because I can't thank them enough, here's one try anyway: Molly and Allison, you rule. Thanks!
There are a few other things I'm grateful for this summer:
My alarm clock. On days when I know it's going to be bad, I'm up between 4 and 5 to get on my first horse between 5 and 5:45, depending on exactly how bad it's going to be. I've really tried hard to at least keep my horses and a couple of mid- to upper-level client horses in full work, which means trying to get 6-7 horses done every day by about 10 a.m. If I have morning lessons, that can mean a very early start.
I use the alarm clock on my iPhone, which has another feature I appreciate - the Flashlight app - because I'm usually trying to find Fender, my first horse of the day, in the dark.
Speaking of Fender…
Natural Light. Yes, the cheapest, nastiest, frat-partiest of beers. A can a day keeps Mr. Fender sweating. Every now and then I find Milwaukee's Best Premium (which I'm told is affectionately called "The Beast") for a few cents per can cheaper, but I just can't bring myself to save the $.70 wondering how anything could be lower quality than Natty Light. Eewuugh. A favorite shopping moment - having to pick up things at the grocery store en route to a classy dinner party, dressed very nicely, and going through the checkout line with fancy schmancy crackers, exotic hummus, and a case of Natty Light. I don't hear Fender complaining, though, so on we go.
Horse Quencher. A much classier drink, Horse Quencher is, to quote Chester Weber on the packaging, "the product I didn't know I needed until I tried it." I mistakenly thought it was an electrolyte; it's actually a grain-like additive you put in your horse's water bucket, and then watch the magic happen. No idea why it works, but it makes horses INHALE their water. All three of my horses, including both boys on the road: one half cup of Horse Quencher per bucket, one drained bucket in less than 5 minutes. Super cool.
We're lucky enough to have good drinkers at home, but it's going to be a staple for me on the road. Unreal.
And while we're on the subject of drinking…
Coconut water. I, unlike Fender, sweat just fine. But rather than a Gatorade, with all its processed and artificially flavored/colored questionableness, I drink a coconut water instead. Much tastier and straight from a plant.
Bodyglide. All that sweating + my sensitive white girl skin = a recipe for disaster. My Nordic people were too busy herding narwhal and looting and pillaging Canada to learn how to sweat, apparently, and I pay the price with, ahem, sores in uncomfortable places. Bodyglide has made a HUGE difference, as has…
FITS breeches. First breeches I've EVER tried that don't aggravate a sore hiney from too much sweaty summer riding. Plus, they make me look very slim, which a girl never says no to.
Sore No More. Last but not least, I learned back in high school science class that alcohol evaporates more quickly than water, which means that when applied topically, it cools you (or your horse!) faster than a shower. Sore No More, a product I already love and use on my horses daily, is suspended in a witch hazel base, so we keep it in a spray bottle (usually with a little apple cider vinegar, which can help keep bugs off as well as help soothe an angry summer coat) and use it after each horse's bath.
The most important secret to summer success? Making the right decision about whether to ride in the afternoons, and if it's too hot, staying inside to cool off with your beverage of choice. Just not a Natty Light. Eewughghhh.