So its the middle of January and quite frankly sometimes its just a hassle to drag your horse in from the field, wet and muddy to tack up and ride. Maybe you don't have a school, maybe your schools surface is frozen, or you have no lights. So what can you do with your horse to keep them entertained (if they are having to be stabled) and strong for when you are ready to get back on and enjoy riding again?
Here are 5 things that you can do to help take the guilt away from not riding, that also doesn't mean you get soaking wet, freezing cold or end up on your arse because your horse is just too excited to contain themselves!
Make feed time last longer.
Its easy to get bored when you are having to stand around in your stable all day. Make sure your horse has lots to nibble at and, for their gut health, make sure it lasts all day. There are so may gadgets you can buy now to help you with this. For example;
Treat balls (doesn't have to contain treats, it may be you just give their normal hard feed in the ball instead of a bucket)
Munch nets - that can hold 1kg blocks of fibre of varying flavors
Feeling a bit strapped for cash after Christmas? Try some of these ideas;
A forage box - grab a leftover cardboard box from Christmas, fill it with straw or paper packaging plus a handful of your horses normal food. Watch them use their super senses to dig out the good stuff.
Hide or hang unusual fruit of vegetables around their stable, good examples or bananas (including the skin) watermelon, beetroot, cucumber and celery - enjoy watching them try now flavours. - remember some of these can be high in sugar so this is more likely an occasional treat and beware of horses prone to laminitis or who have special dietary requirements.
Go foraging for herbs such as nettles, rose hips and mint (maybe from your gardens or your parents!)
2. During the day leave the radio or music o for your horse. Classical music can be relaxing for them or even putting on an audio book - perhaps some positive affirmations for them for the season ahead 🙈 If that doesn't float their boat maybe you could take a book and a blanket and snuggle up in the stable with them to read them a book and just spend some quality time together.
3. Use this time where you are not able to ride to work on your ground work. If you can't get out the stable start with simple exercises such as;
Baited stretches; Using a treat, likit or target (see above), ask your horse to reach first to their shoulder, them to their stifle, then down to their hind limb fetlock. Do this in both directions then see if they are able to reach own between their knees.
Rein back; Bring your horse to the front of their stable, ask for a couple of steps back to the back of their stable. You are looking for them to be able to move their legs in diagonal pairs, tilt their pelvis back and tilt through their shoulders. If they struggle have a go at the following two exercises;
Pelvic tilts; Firmly press your fingers don the back of your horses pelvis, you should find he is able to tilt his bottom downwards stretches through his back.
Thoracic lift; Gently press your fingers up onto the area where the girth would go, you should find your horse is able to lift through their shoulder.
Leg lifts; practice lifting each leg in turn, notice if they find one leg harder than the others. If they find this easier, make it harder by gently nudging them off balance.
Tail pulls; so long as your horse is happy to you can use their tail to help them engage their hind limb muscles. Ensure the hind limbs are placed in a good position, then using their tail gently pull their weight over onto one leg. Repeat 5 times them swap over to the other side.
4. Tired of your horse attacking you for treats when you are trying to do your physio exercises (or when you are trying the exercises above). How about trying to target train them using a clicker. There are lots of videos online on how you can do this, but also more places are offering lessons on trick training your horse, which often includes clicker training.
5. If you do have a flat dry(ish) field or a school you can use there are so many ideas for pole exercises, or use your imagination. It doesn't need to be anything fancy, and completing exercises in walk if often the best anyway. So mix it up and have fun!
I hope that has given you some inspiration on what you can do with your horse through these dark wet months.
Now is also a good time to get your physio appointment booked, that way you know you can be ready for the season ahead.
Give me a call today on 07779003359