By Chelsey Burris
As equestrians across the US are adjusting to our “new normal”, many are skipping this year’s show season entirely. While this may be because of restrictions in place in your area, or a personal decision for your safety, collecting scores and reviewing judges’ comments are on the backburner for now. If you are planning to forego show season, here are 5 fun things you can do with your horse in the meantime.
Go Back to the Basics
How long has your horse had an annoying little habit that some groundwork would help him get over, but you’ve been too busy to really focus on? Now is a great time to go back to your basics and work on groundwork with your horse. This isn’t only helpful for problem solving, but also a time to reconnect with your horse and get “on their level,” so to speak. Improving your communication on the ground means better communication in the saddle.
Try a Lesson with a Different Instructor
We all love getting in a rhythm, whether in life or in the saddle. However, this isn’t always a good thing – as getting stuck in a rut may sometimes disguise itself as being in rhythm for a long time. If you’ve been taking all your lessons with one instructor for as long as you can remember, try something new and branch out. You can find a USDF Certified Instructor near you here. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a lesson from a different discipline. Have you always wanted to try vaulting? Western riding? If you aren’t filling your weekends with busy shows this year, it’s the perfect time to try something new.
Work on a Movement That You’ve Been Struggling With
Do you and your horse have an Achilles heel at your current level? One thing that if you could nail, you’d get amazing scores every time? Tackle it now! When you’re ready to start showing again, knowing that you and your equine partner now have that movement perfected will give you the confidence to make a triumphant return.
Teach Them a Trick
Being with your horse shouldn’t be all work all the time. Doing a fun activity, like teaching them a trick, can be good mental stimulation for them. Using carrots or other healthy treats is usually an awesome motivator. Plus, if you’re having a stressful day, a horse that will “smile” for a treat is sure to make you grin too.
Spend Bonding Time Together
In a typical year, you may find your schedule so packed with lessons, barn chores, clinics, and shows that sometimes you forget to spend time doing what probably made you fall in love with horses in the first place; just being with them. Whether you take some time to hand graze your horse, or just hang with them in their paddock or stall, 2020 is a great time to spend time bonding with your 1,200 pound dance partner.