nighthorseI used to be indifferent to falling back.  The extra hour of sleep on the one day is nice but whatever.  The choice of driving to work in the dark, or driving home in the dark, isn’t that material to me, and once December comes, it’s in the dark both ways regardless of Daylight time or Standard time.

Then I got into horses.  And maybe Daylight time is great if you have horses on your property and getting up to do early morning chores isn’t quite as dreadful if the sun is up.  I, however, am a city girl and I get my horsey time in the evenings.  Which are now pitch black.  It could be worse; the place I ride has a well-lit, semi-heated arena for lessons.

I’ve been sick and missed lessons; yesterday was my first time out since the time change.  And it is worse: I had to go catch my assigned horse, in the dark.  This presented a number of problems:

  • Country-dark is not like city-dark.  It’s really, actually dark.
  • Moonlight is not awfully helpful.  It’s enough to burn out your night vision, but not enough to actually see much by
  • Twenty-odd horses, in an area roughly the size of two football fields, is a lot of ground to cover if the horses are all spread out
  • Tripping hazards – gopher holes, and frozen horse turds – mean you have to watch the ground in front of you, rather than have your eyes up scanning for horse silhouettes
  • Buckling a halter while wearing gloves, and you can’t see the holes for the buckle to go into, is challenging.
  • In the dark, horses look remarkably similar until you get up quite close to them.  Especially when they are wearing blankets, and you don’t know what kind of blanket the horse you’re looking for, is wearing.

The fellow student who walked out to the pasture with me, didn’t have much trouble identifying or finding her horse.  He’s enormous, and jet black, and has feathers on his ankles and a wavy mane and tail.  I, on the other hand, was looking for a medium-large, medium-red chestnut horse with four white feet, a wide white blaze, and a short red mane.  Several times, I found the same medium-small chestnut with four white feet, a wide white blaze, and a long blonde mane.  I’m not sure how many horses I found with white feet and narrow blazes, or partial blazes, or stars, or only one or two white feet – were they all different animals, or was I seeing just a few over and over?

Finally, I found a big guy with a shortish red mane (but maybe it had grown?  I hadn’t been out in a while), a wide-ish blaze, and white feet.  I should have gotten a clue when the halter was tight on him.  Should have gotten a clue when he didn’t nibble me.  Should have gotten a clue when he didn’t try to stop and eat grass every few steps. Brought him into the barn, took off his blanked, brushed him, went to pick out his feet… wait a minute, this foot isn’t white…  Blanket back on, back out to the pasture, back to square one.

I did eventually find the right horse… after circling the entire perimeter of the field and wandering semi-randomly through about half the middle of it.  Not only was it obviously him just to look at him, he had a nametag on his blanket – if I could have read it.

A co-worker of mine has a partner who does construction; she’s going to see if he has a high-powered headlamp I can borrow for the rest of the winter.

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