We all know how hard it is in winter owning horses, you end up spending more of your life mucking out, doing hay nets and in between floods, frozen ground and snow we seem to have less and less time to ride. It can be completely demotivating. Here are a few tips I have …
1.Plan your week
I can’t emphasise how important consistency is with horses therefore being as planned as possible with your week is vital. Check the weather forecast for the week and cross it over with your diary. So if it's raining or frozen Monday/Tuesday then try and ride in the later part of the week. Predicting when you can/ can't ride rather than turning up expecting to ride then stood there whilst it's torrential rain is far better!
2.Plan your weekend
I always plan my competition diary at least a month in advance, scheduling in shows (along with grooms!) If you’re not competing have a look what else there is… pleasure rides… clinics…. flatwork lessons & get them in your diary. If you try and book something to do in every weekend, or every other weekend it gives you something to focus on & helps to keep you motivated! Even if the whole week has been horrible weather and you’ve only been able to ride once or not at all, having something to look forward to just makes it all seem marginally worth the slog!
3.School & hack
For me that works all week, weekends are the only time I get to hack. So, if I’m competing or going to see my coach that means my horses are just seeing the school all week which is boring for them. Even if you are schooling, having a lesson or competing at the weekend then I would always try and encourage a bit of road work/ hacking as a cool down session in the winter to make sure your horse’s tendons are getting a mix of hard & soft ground and plenty of “downtime.”
4.Try something new
It’s so hard to keep your horses as fit as possible, so try mix it up with days out to horse spa’s etc. You can go to most places for the day and a session the treadmill is approx. £25 but the benefits are huge and a good way to keep your horses fit and strong. The water treadmill is great as it doesn't matter whether the weather is awful as it's all indoors. I'd highly recommend Fallows Farm Rehab, Manchester and Rookery Hall Equine Spa in Cheshire.
5.Focus on your fitness
Anyone that knows me knows I am a massive gym freak, and as we go into winter a lot of riders will find they are riding less due to weather, dark nights etc. Therefore, give yourself a shot of happy endorphins and try schedule in some gym time yourself to help keep you fit… I always more than happy for anyone to tag on to my gym sessions!
6.Give yourself a break
At the end of the day if you can’t ride your horse, it is not the end of the world. A bit of rest will never hurt your horse, just like us being on a holiday, if anything it gives your horse some down time and time to be a bit more horse like. I know so many riders beat themselves up, but there really is no need. Unless you’ve got a chocka competition diary, just use this time to put less pressure on yourself and enjoy your horse without being as busy!
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