While many of us are more than likely experiencing some version of cabin fever during this period of social distancing, separation, and limited access to our usual everyday activities and routines, there are ways to remain positive and have a bright outlook on this bizarre time in our world’s history.
Even though many local, rated, and international shows have been either postponed or cancelled, we are able to take this time to perhaps find other productive ways to spend our now-abundant free time.
If you’re like me, I consider the barn to be my “home away from home” and a safe space for me to disconnect with the stressors of the outside world like scheduling doctor’s appointments, deadlines, voicemails, grocery shopping (even before the TP shortage), and general everyday life stress. However, while I’m still fortunate enough to be able to go to the barn to take care of my gelding, some individuals may be struggling with recent changes that may not allow regular boarders to come and see their horse, much less even ride or have more than an hour with them. While this may be frustrating, it’s important to understand and appreciate that those who are taking care of our beloved animals are on the frontlines and need to ensure their health and safety in order to ensure that for our horses.
Curious to discover ways to connect with your equestrian community while still getting your “fix?” Continue reading to find out more!
1. Spring Cleaning
During this time, take this opportunity to sort through all your tack, saddle pads, schooling/show clothes, and more. Are there any items that are worn through, rotted, or overall unsafe/unusable? If so, throw it away to create room for the good stuff – plus it makes more room in your tack trunk for new gear! Take the remaining bridles, halters, saddle pads, and more to inspect the quality of each and break out the elbow grease to give everything a good scrubbing/cleaning/conditioning (check out Cassie’s blog for some tips and tricks to make your leather sparkle)!
2. Get Fit
Just because your mighty and noble steed may have transformed into a temporary Pasture Puff, that doesn’t mean you can’t get ahead of the curve and build your fitness level to be ready to hit the ground running with your horse by the time you’re back at the barn. Take the time to enjoy some fresh air and build your cardio by walking your dog, having a dance party by yourself to some of your favorite tunes, or go hiking at your local park with equestrian friends – while keeping with proper social distancing guidelines. Think about engaging your core throughout the day and promoting proper posture while sitting at home, making sure to keep up with healthy eating habits. By giving yourself a goal to strive for, it’ll help keep you on track and stay excited about building a positive routine.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on some of the best exercises specifically for equestrians!
3. Time Capsule
In between your Netflix binging of The Office and Tiger King, go through old videos and photos from previous shows and lessons. While this may not necessarily be an exciting or enjoyable thing to do – reliving chipped distances or “ugly” riding – It’s amazing what taking the time to appreciate the growth between you and your horse can do to give inspiration for new exercises and patterns to try. I discovered that the reason Rotti would sometimes buck after fences wasn’t because he was being naughty, but because I would lay on his neck in the landing and didn’t allow him to stretch after the landing stride, so he had to work extra hard to try and regain his balance and rhythm! With the knowledge and experienced you’ve likely gained since those videos were taken, you probably didn’t realize how much you’ve learned or some of the bad habits you’ve worked through (or picked up).
4. No Such Thing as Too Much Learning
Utilize your trainer and schedule a “virtual” lesson with them or try online resources like The Equivault, Total Horse Channel, or The Equestrian Coach in the meantime to gain a fresh perspective on your discipline or learn something new! Youtube also provides a TON of information for training tips and more (even Olympic champion Beezie Madden is giving a free lesson on her Channel)!
You can also check out governing body websites like FEI, USEF, USHJA, USDF, and other resources like The Chronicle of the Horse to watch old show videos for you to “ride along” with to help envision your success plan for the future. Doing all these things shows your support to your coach or various small businesses during these stressful times, and keep you engaged with what’s going on in the equestrian community.
Also, take this time to catch up on going through your various magazines like Horse Illustrated, Practical Horseman, or organizations like AQHA Magazine, In Stride, and more to read up on the latest updates for show updates and what’s going on in your breed or discipline-specific community. You can also dust off some of the various books stacked in your tack room to brush up on your riding, horsemanship, grooming, or horse care knowledge – I know I’ll be diving into my copy of World-Class Grooming and looking forward to warmer weather coming upon us for him to get his first bath of the season and shedding underway for him to be show-ring ready!
Myself included, it can be really easy to worry about “what’s next?” We are wondering when our beloved barns and shops will reopen, the next time we can ride, when our next show will be, or when life as we know it will get back to “normal.” The biggest thing to rely on is trust. Your horse will (likely) not become some feral animal or forget everything you’ve learned together, and his fitness will not have completely fallen apart. You will not “forget” how to ride. Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel – this will not last forever. Before you know it, we will be back in our barns so take the time to reflect and discover a new-found appreciation for this world we love so much.
Hang in there, guys. We are all in this together.
Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate