Whenever I am tempted to complain about the winter, I take Red out into the pasture during a storm. I had to clean out the barn this morning, there is a sudden snow storm that looks fairly serious and I told Red to keep the sheep in the barn and he did. When I was done, he was covered in snow head to foot, he did not seem to know or to notice. To some extent, winter is a state of mind, and I always remember in late January to take the Rev. Bill Graham's advice to heart. Do not complain about your life, it might be listening.
There is external winter and internal winter and I keep the two separate. There will not be a winter in my heart. I am mindful of the fact that if Red were a New York Carriage Horse, it would be illegal for him to be out in the snow working, and I could be arrested for letting him to do it. No carriage horse is allowed to work in the snowstorms, or in heat and extreme cold, as Red does every day. Tomorrow, the high temperature is supposed to be seven degrees, Red will be out several times a day moving sheep and helping out with farm chores.
We have this idea that domesticated animals like dogs and horses are fragile and child-like, weaker than us. We let firemen and woman, police officers, construction workers and laborers work outside for long periods in storms and winter, but the tough work horses, who have worked outside for centuries are considered too fragile and weak for such work. We have it backwards I think.
It's during times like winter and in things like storms that the working animals have done the most for human beings.
The real abuse for domesticated work animals like Red or carriage horses is not work, it's the absence of work. Red reminds me to keep winter in it's proper place.