While winter might be picturesque, it’s often a stifling time for riders.
Photo: Alayne Blickle, Horses for Clean Water, 2015
Your outdoor pen is frozen. Roads are too icy for hauling horses to nearby indoor arenas. Temps are single digits. Forecast is for snow and more snow…. Sound familiar? As an equestrian, there is little more that makes us crazy than not being able to ride for days on end.
Would you like some mental strategies for you, the rider, to help you through the winter blahs? Here are some of my tips:
Research and sign up for clinics or lessons coming this spring. No clinics in your chosen field? There might be clinics out there in other disciplines that might be of interest to you. For example, I audited a Pilates for dressage riders clinic in early February. I am a reiner but I believe good riding is good riding and there’s usually something in any discipline that I can learn from.
Research a new discipline. There may be other disciplines that you and your horse might benefit from, such as Western dressage. I now have two retired reiners that I am considering doing Western Dressage with. Western dressage will be less stress for the joints but still a challenging, learning opportunity for both my horse and me. I have located an instructor in this field and have signed up for an introductory lesson with her later this month.
Research and plan new trail rides. There are always new trails to travel. Talk with friends, look over maps and make notes on when and where you might go for new adventures. I have been doing this also. Whenever I ran into horse owners, at holiday parties or elsewhere, I always poll them on where they are riding and what their favorite summer rides are. My trails to travel list is growing!
Horsey books and movies can be a also good diversion, especially for those long dark, winter nights. In upcoming blogs I’ll be reviewing a lovely new book for youth with a horse theme, Chasing Ravens, by Jessica E Paige. Someone recently recommended The Tao Of Horses: Exploring How Horses Guide Us on Our Spiritual Path, by Elizabeth Kay McCall. I’m looking forward to an inspiration winter read there.
If you compete with your horse, now would be the time to think about your goals for 2015 competition. Maybe review videos of this year’s tests or shows. I have my youth riders list out three achievable goals for the year and the steps for attaining each goal. At the end of the year it’s always fun to look back and see how you did and whay you learned.
And finally, winter is a great time to think about next summer’s horsey vacation. Start now to make notes on ideas and possibilities. Also, keep an eye out for another blog I am doing on how to put together a successful horsey vacation.
Got other boredom buster ideas for riders? Let us in on your tips! Happy trails!