Winter is well and truly with us after the weather this weekend. Being a horse owner we all know that this time of year can be very testing indeed. With reduced daylight hours and less favourable weather to ride, a lot of us wonder why we do it and look forward to the warmer and longer days.
So what can you do to make the most of the winter.
- Plan for the future. Are there any projects you would like to start developing such as building a track, having a herb/ self selection garden for the horses or any competitions you would like to take part in. Now is a great time to plan for those. It’s a positive move that can help you through these dark cold days.
- Set some goals. These can be competition goals or small things like learn to do a half pass, jumping over 80cm or getting your horse to stand at a mounting block. Give yourself a time frame to achieve them (make sure this is realistic and achievable). Think of the steps you need to do to achieve the goal and start working on achieving them.
- Build core strength. While the weather is not always great to ride we can use the time to build good core strength in yourself and your horse. This can be done through carrot stretches, belly lifts and other in hand activities. In regards to yourself there are plenty of classes in person and online that you can do especially when the weather is not so good. The exercise will help build strength but also help with your wellbeing.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t fit a ride in or feel you are not doing enough with your horse. So long your horse has space, food and friends they probably quite like the downtime. Horses are like athletes they need their training to have less intense moments and the winter is a prime time to do this otherwise they can become stale and injury prone. They need a break and this can be a couple of weeks to a month or more. Don’t feel guilty taking time out for them and you especially when the weather is rubbish.
- Get some bodywork done. Bodywork can help your horse move better and reduce injuries. This time of year horses can be a little silly in their fields and slip. So make sure they are checked regularly even if they are not being worked. Also get yourself looked at. It is a really great time to get any asymmetries corrected in yourself as these will affect your horse. If you both come out of the winter more symmetrical and with a stronger core it sets you up really well to achieve your goals and enjoy your riding in better weather.
- Above all think positively. Winter can be hard but don’t set the bar to high and pat yourself on the back as much as possible. Use your support network for help or if you don’t have one build one as everyone needs people around. Don’t be scared to ask for help but remember to return the favour when someone else needs it. At some point we all need help whether that is physical or emotional. Be there for each other.