Show Some Love You To and Your Horse
With Valentine’s Day approaching, the season of love has arrived. While your significant other may be at the top of your list, you and your horse should be right up at the top as well. With busy schedules getting in the way of taking time to de-stress as equestrians, this can take a toll on our bodies and personal health of ourselves and our horse. Love your horse and yourself with these 7 tips for the new year. Make it a priority to start thinking about lowering stress levels, enjoying your horse time, and building a better “you”.
1) Make it out to the barn more
Everyone can use a little more barn time during the week. This may mean “shutting off” your devices after 5PM, or taking a lunch break out to see your best friend. Build time after working hours to spend time with your horse, even if that doesn’t involve riding. There’s something special about the bond of the horse and rider even on the ground. By grooming, bathing, or even hand-walking, your horse will apreciate your time as much as you will. Not only will this build a better bond between you and your horse, but it will also appease your mind and body by “checking out” of work and putting technology aside.
2) Focus on Flatting
I know jumping is your favorite activity. Everyone loves the thrills of jumping bigger jumps when they get a chance, but this year focus on heavy flat work. By doing this, your horse will lengthen and strengthen and build a better physical foundation for jumping and showing. Build in some figure eights, poles, and bending work in your weekly routine and leave the big jumps for lesson days. Another good exercise is trotting on long straight lines on firm ground. This will help strengthen your horse’s stifles, and if you can take him or her off property to do this rather than doing this in an arena. By trotting long straight lines, it will also help improve balance and straightness in the show ring.
3) Ride without stirrups – at least once a month
And – don’t whine about it! Think of riding without stirrups as a muscle building activity for yourself. Instead of going to a gym class, focus on strengthening your core and leg muscles aboard your horse. By riding without stirrups, you are building a bigger bond between you and your horse and riding as “one”. If you’re more inclined to ride bareback, even better! You may even save some time on tacking up!
4) Give more rewards!
Whether this means more praises in the ring while you’re schooling, peppermints treats after you ride, or a simple apple as a reward for him/her greeting you at the gate from the pasture, rewarding your horse is important no matter what age. If you enjoy baking, try out some recipes for homemade treats made with oats and molasses that both you and your horse can enjoy together on the farm.
5) Update your wardrobe
Get rid of the old worn-out breeches and tops. If they’re still in good condition, try selling them to consignment shops or Poshmark to make a few extra bucks to put towards some new outfits. Browse Goode Rider’s “What’s New” to check out some new riding attire from shirts, jackets, and breeches to update your new look.
6) Get more massages
In effort to maintain a healthy mind and body in 2018, massages are one of the best stress relieving activities to help your muscles heal after a thorough workout. Massage therapy is not only good for the rider, but also the horse. If you’ve recently shown a few weekends in a row, treat yourself and your horse to a nice massage with essential oils to relieve tight muscles and ease tension. It’s proven to help, and it’s another way to reward your horse for the hard work he or she has put in this season.
7) Maintain a healthy diet
Finally, watch out for inflammatory foods, and cut down on the sugar in you and your horse’s diet. Eat more vegetables, and try to stay away from inorganic foods. Pesticides and processed foods have higher rates of cancer causing agents, so try and avoid them when you can! If your horse is getting older, be sure to test for metabolism disorders like Cushing’s or Thyroid disease, in which many cases diet must be adjusted.