Wellness concerning our horses is becoming a ‘hot’ topic. Unfortunately, the news reports more negative things than positive. Which is a shame since being around horses only has benefits in my opinion. And most of all, real horse people are really good to their horses. We always put them first and make sure they want for nothing. My gelding has new shoes more often than myself, every year his saddles are adjusted to make sure they fit perfectly, nutritional supplements, everything for our animals. A horse is often seen as the same. A horse is a horse. Well, nowadays that is not quite accurate. There are a lot of different types of horses. They all have the same basic needs, but in what degree differs. One horse couldn’t be happier with 24/7 roaming the field no matter the weather conditions, where another horse might hate that. It will always be made to order and keep looking at what your horse needs in particular.
1 of those things is training. Every horse needs to be challenged and needs exercise. No matter what discipline you’re in, also if only recreational. Variation in the training is really important. My advice is to make a trainings schedule. Look at your goals and make a plan. Maybe you want to improve fitness, plan some rides in the woods, beach or any place you can work on that. For agility grab some poles. Groundwork for concentration and obedience. There are so many ways to keep training fun for you and your horse.
In addition, I am for giving a day off in the week. I have the luxury my horse is in a free-range stable (concrete and sand), so he moves around all day. If he would be in a stable, I would add some paddock sessions with toys, like a ball. Or if you have the availability in the arena. Look at what your horse loves to do and what makes him happy. Maybe that is a walk in the woods. I already mentioned customisation, that also means on the off day. Be creative, because exercise, being able to stretch the legs, is one of the most important things for a horse.
Also keep the age of you horse in mind. When you have a young horse training sessions are way less intense than with an older horse which is fully grown and has muscles. If a horse isn’t as fit as normal you adjust the training intensity. Owning and training a horse is not as easy as it sounds. You continuously need to customize your training to your horse’s needs.
What are fun things to do?
Put some poles out with 3 meters in between so you can canter over them. Start with 3 and add more when both of you are doing a good job. You can even replace some of the poles for cavaletti’s. You can train a good pace; agility and your horse will get looser in the body.
With the poles you can also make a square or diamond shape to walk and trot over in different ways. Straight, straight in & out through a corner, diagonally in the corners. Make sure you give your horse room to make the steps and adjust your tempo to what you are doing.
Try some groundwork, long lines, or lunging. Make training fun for you and your horse.
Did you know you can get very creative with dressage as well? Often, we do the standard figures which are also in the tests. But you can vary endlessly while still working on making your horse straight or bending him. Especially when you have a horse that is good in remembering (like practising your test twice and your horse starts to anticipate. Like halt at the X instead of G. It was about here we were going to halt and greet the jury, right? Yes horsey, little bit further…)
You could do a serpentine and halt on the AC line, or add 5-meter circles left and right when reaching the AC line. A figure 8 in canter, back to trot on the X and change to the other canter. When you are working on leg yielding, do a small triangle (K-X-H). Most importantly, make sure you make your horse straight before switching the flexion and bending. Basics are always your most important focus. Another fun thing to do is switching gaits on different point within a figure (standard or variation). This will keep them focussed and responsive. Try turning after a corner (H), when reaching the AC line make a half circle (G-B-D), continue straight and turn left again at the K. Or go from K to X, from X to C while extending the strides for about 2-3 paces, collect and turn left or right at C. You can even add a 5-meter circle at the X before turning towards the C.
Lacking inspiration? Use Google, there is plenty to find on online.
Struggling with something and you need help? Feel free to contact me for any lessons :)