Temperatures are finally starting to drop, meaning we are officially starting to get a taste of Fall. As the seasons begin to change, so does the way you spend time with your horse. Take this time to take care of you and your horse. Doing these ten activities will not only be enjoyable but will help you get closer to your horse and get them ready for the next competition season.
Address any physical restaurants or problems with horses. If procedures are needed now is the time. Schedule routine vet checkups to make sure everything is in order such as diagnostic work, dietary supplements, dental work, alternative therapies, or surgeries. This is very beneficial to do during this time. It is not beneficial to do during competition season because it is not always practical or affordable, and might involve a lay-off. It’s a good time to address those on-again, off-again issues once and for all.
Change can be beneficial in rest. Develop other skills that are not essential to equestrian.
Supplementing training with other activities during off-seasons helps athletes stay in the game longer. For example, if you want to work on stamina, try an aerobic activity. For better coordination take a dance class. If you’re struggling with balance, try yoga. Take music lessons to acquire a better rhythm. Even playing video games can help you with decision making and team building. These are just a few examples of ways to broaden your skills. Get creative and enthusiastic for the next riding season.
Rest and Relaxation
Give your horse a complete rest. This will be mentally and physically beneficial. Horses that are ridden only once or twice a week in the cold weather take too much lunging before he is settled enough to learn anything. This is probably physically harder on them than regular work. Make sure you continue to train your horse, sometimes horses take longer to get back in the swing of things.
Get to the root of an issue
This is a great time to address any training issues. Pick a skill that has lost precision to start improving. Address any odd show ring habits, if any formed. Are you facing issues on the ground with clipping, tying up, trailer loading, or standing at the mounting block, or problems such as tension or aggression when riding in a crowded environment? Are there any issues which, if addressed, would make the next season more enjoyable for both you and your horse? Consider sending your horse to a professional trainer. A reputable trainer can help improve any weak spots and introduce new training skills and moves. The first step is getting to the root of the behavior. This is important to do if you notice your horse is resisting, showing tension, lacking the previous sparkle. Take a new perspective, experiment with different techniques, and rebuild the foundation.
This is a new challenge for horses. Riders don't want to part with horses during summer months, but sending your horse to a school where a professional trainer can identify weak spots is beneficial because they can then systematically re-school the horse to eliminate areas of confusion. It will allow your horse to open up to be introduced to a new skill: flying changes, work over fences, or sliding stops.
Focus on your riding skills as well. Have someone video you or have someone lunge you on your horse with the goal of focusing on your position. Spend time on the saddle without stirrups or look for opportunities to try riding horses more or less finished than your own. For a fresh perspective, take lessons with those you admire or attend a clinic.
Spend Time with each other: Bonding
Enjoy one-on-one time with your horse. Think about moving your horse closer to home. Have your horse spend more time with you than your trainer. Do you enjoy show ring success or spending time with your horse? Now is the time to enjoy taking care of your horse: grooming, barn chores, trail rides with friends.
Try New Tricks
You can always learn something from trying a new discipline. Start jumping or try cantering poles. This develops the rider's timing and strength by perfecting two point positions. You may discover your horse has a new talent. Introduce your horse to cattle events during winter team penning.
Learn More About your Horses
Read about new techniques, visit trade shows, or attend a seminar. Winter clinics, online courses, magazine articles, and published research are good places to start.
Plan your Future Lessons
Before the season starts again and the weather gets warmer and schooling sessions focus more on summer goals, create a lesson plan before each ride. A rider should be able to confidently articulate what skills they want to work on before climbing aboard the horse.
Use this time to really enjoy the changing of the season with your horse. Work on yourself to be the best rider and companion you can be for your horse. Work on forming a relationship with your horse. Look at this time as a time for self-care. It will be a nice break for both you and your horse.