Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sledding n.

In phrases

hard sledding (n.) (also heavy sledding, tough sledding) [transportation imagery: heavy loads could be dragged on sledded wagons rather than in wheeled carts]

(US) a problematic, demanding situation; hard times.

Vermont Mercury (Rutland, VT) 8 Nov. 2/1: Business men are very apt in good times and in good sledding to take on heavy loads [...] but when there is a spot of bare ground, then comes the rub, it is hard sledding.
New England Farmer (Boston, MA) 20 May 1/5: As usual, it has been hard sleding with farmers.
Hickory Press (NC) 3 Oct. 4/3: He had tried to serve God [...] for forty years, but he had found it mighty hard sledding.
Sun. News (Wilkes-Barre, PA) 19 Aug. 12/1: Scranton’s vain, self-important post-master, has had plenty hard sledding the past week.
[US]H. Green Mr. Jackson 180: Since you quit the game [...] I ain’t been runnin’ with no topliners, ’Frisco. It’s kind o’ hard sleddin’.
[US]H. Green Vaudevillians in Omaha Dly Bee (NE) 19 Dec. 9/5: When you’re married the hard sleddin’ begins .
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 12 Jan. [synd. col.] The slump in the moving picture industry is going to make it hard sledding for many authors this winter.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 716: It’s going to be tough sledding.
[US](con. 1920s) Dos Passos Big Money in USA (1966) 801: It was heavy sledding because Merrit was [...] trying to size up Charley.
D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam Star-News 12 Apr. 13: You chicks are in for some hard sledding unless you’re hipped.
Rocky Mt. Teleg. (NC) 21 Nov. 6/5: Both the winners and runners-up face tough sleddng this week.
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 183: Charlie had taken the cure. It was tough sledding, though, when he got out.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 150: That’s why this waterfront investigation is having such tough sledding.
[US]Chicago Trib. 25 Dec. 6/7: Turmoil and ‘years of tough sledding’ still remain.
Indianapolis News (IN) 29 May 10/4: Many employers are having hard sledding now because of economic recession.
[US]Hartford Courant (CT) 19 Mar. 71/3: ‘Im told we will have hard sledding’.
[US]J. Stahl Permanent Midnight 69: The pay’s swell, but it’s tough sledding for the hard-core delusional intent on maintaining the facade of free will.
[US]J. Stahl I, Fatty 220: I’m generally inclined to compassion [...] but in Virginia’s case I found it tough sledding.
Dly Jrnl (Franklin, IN) 29 Aug. 2/1: There will be heavy sledding for the US economy during the next couple of quarters.
Central N.J. Home News (New Brunswick, NJ) 17 Dec. PC3/1: It may prove to be tough sledding again.