Horse Girl Winter: 5 tips to survive January in the Great White North.

Horse Girl Winter: 5 tips to survive January in the Great White North.

(I started writing this in January but never shared it, and, seeing as winter’s decided to come back now that spring has officially arrived, it seemed a propos!)


Thoroughbred horse playing in the snow photo copyright Linda Shantz

 As I write this, the weather app tells me it’s -16 degrees. Before my American friends freak out and send the National Guard to rescue me, that’s Celsius, so about 3 degrees F. Still cold though, right?

The cold snap is supposed to end in a few days, but after what had been a very mild winter, it’s hit harder than it probably should. C’mon, who remembers the year we heard “Polar Vortex” for the first time? Minus 30, before the windchill was taken into account. At those temps, the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales begin to align. That’s when you really know it’s cold.

I don’t know about you, but I’m softer than I was then, so I need survival tips to get myself through. Here’s how I’ve been managing, looking after five horses and a dog while holding down a job, or three.

  1. Layers! This isn’t news, right? I live in two on the bottom and three on top inside and add another layer when I go outside.

    My new favourite thing is these amazing fleece-lined leggings I bought from Amazon recently. All my old leggings and base layers have huge holes, so I indulged! They’re fuzzy on the inside and kind of a tech fabric on the outside, so they don’t pick up dog hair. Now I want more pairs! (March update: I bought another pair!) Canadians can get them here.

  2. Neck gaiter - I used to wear turtlenecks, but for some reason having something tight around my neck makes my neck — which gives me a lot of problems thanks to a couple of car accidents and spills from horses — hurt more. The gaiter is looser, can be pulled up over my head if I want another layer over my ears on really cold days, and if the sun is shining and my house gets warm, I can remove it easily. I have a warm version, then a lighter one for the not-as-cold days.  My light one is by Buff, and the warmer one is from Wind River (Mark’s Work Wearhouse). Canadians can get it here.

  3. Hot drinks - while cappuccino is my go-to for caffeine (if you’ve read my books that’s probably no surprise!), sometimes it’s nice to have a tea, or a tea latte, or hot chocolate! What’s your hot drink of choice?

    All The Little Things paperback novel by Linda Shantz with coffee cup on table
  4. Chocolate! Imperative for survival. I’m a bit addicted to Caramel Crackle  KitKat, and they’re just the thing to top up an order from the ‘Zon when I need to make up enough to get free shipping!

  5. And, last but not least, stack of good books (of course!). Naturally I have to suggest my own, the Good Things Come series (Canadians check it out here) but recently I finished Clear to the Last, and really enjoyed it. It was like a good old British pony book, but for adults! (Canadians can get it here)

Do you have any favourite winter survival tips?


Good Things Come paperback series by Linda Shantz on table

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