6 Ways to try something new with your horse!
Human beings are creatures of routine. It is undoubtedly easy to find ourselves in a loop fearful to venture out and try something new.
You might find that mixing it up will not only give your horse a mental exercise but you as well. Here are some simple tips for how you can add some variety for you and your equine companion.
1. Bring it Back to the Ground
Under saddle training or pleasure riding have always been the bread and butter for most horse people.
We look to make strides in the show ring or simply enjoy a relaxing trail ride. Bringing it back down to the ground work, however, could reveal some sticky spots with your horse. These sticky spots could be being tricky about getting caught or being polite with the farrier.
Discovering these sticky spots with the ground work could provide a new mental exercise for your horse.
2. Add Obstacles
Your horse might have it all, but testing his ability to overcome obstacles can provide vital mental stimulation for your horse. Riding laps around in the arena can get old, but adding ground poles or trail obstacles can spruce up your ride and provide extra, critical thinking. What if you’re a jumper and poles are no big deal? Try weaving through foam pool noodles or crossing a tarp or blanket. More sticky spots could be revealed.
3. New Surroundings
Traveling somewhere outside the barn can bring out the best in your horse. New surroundings can literally be a breath of fresh air. A refreshing trail ride with friends can be the perfect detox you and your horse are looking for, especially during these tumultuous times. Not interested in hitting the trail? Find a public equestrian park or nearby arena. Let’s be honest, trailering isn’t the easiest and travel may not be an option at this time but, keep the idea in your back pocket to freshen up your experiences with you horse.
4. Try a New Discipline
Horses are extremely adaptable, which is easy to forget. Trying a new discipline can be easy if you start from the ground up. Now you don’t have to re-invent the wheel here but these days there are more and more classes within each riding style. While your horse might be a master at one, a new discipline could really liven up your next ride. You could introduce your reining horse to a cow or try dressage exercises with your jumper. A very new class we are seeing these days is Western Dressage. Who knows, you may find your horse loving the new rhythm you strike in a new discipline.
5. New Rider
Having someone else ride your horse can reveal a lot about your riding strengths and weaknesses, and the potential areas of improvement for your horse. You may see that your horse becomes a little anxious when handled by someone other than yourself. It could reveal another project for your horse to accomplish. Make sure whomever you invite to ride is a clearly capable rider, skill level equivalent to your horse and is someone you trust. If this is their first time riding your horse, be there to observe and offer assistance. No horse is the same. No rider is the same. Watching your horse move the ground can give you a fresh perspective on your horse’s movement, soundness, behavior and training. Change in perspective can shed new light on your horse and yourself as a rider.
6. Extra TLC
No hour spent in the saddle is wasted, but taking a breather from the training can be a relief. As we horse people know, nothing beats good, ole-fashioned tender-loving-care. Treat your horse to a deep, cleansing bath from mane to tail. Maybe throw in some braids, standing wraps, soothing belly rubs, hoof oil and an extra treat for good measure. Horses are athletes and like all athletes, a little TLC goes a long way. Give extra turnout time! We all know we also have some tack in need of some care as well.
Another great thing to consider is equine chiropractor, massage or acupuncture. These services can get a little pricey but could mean a world of difference for your horse, especially if he is struggling with soreness.
As routines change, horses look to their riders for more communication and guidance. This is the opportunity to strengthen the connection between each other. Good riders take care of their horses, but great riders communicate and lead their horses through new challenges and experiences. Breaking up monotonous routines with your horses keeps them mentally bright while building their confidence. Notice your habits and take chances because new perspective is a wonderful thing.
One thing that should always be of habit is excellent joint care. As we change up our riding routine and try new things, our horse’s joints undergo stress, inflammation and risk of injury. Be especially diligent in the care of your horse’s joints, and be sure that you are providing adequate supplementation to support healthy connective tissues (tendons and ligaments), synovial fluid, and a healthy inflammatory response.
Talk to your vet about the importance of supplementing MSM, glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen, methionine and Green Lipped Mussel. These ingredients can help address joint inflammation and maintain the integrity of your horse’s joints, tendons and ligaments.
Formula 707 Joint 6-in-1 is packed full of these active ingredients and is designed to keep your horse moving and comfortable.