Happy New Year!
A new year can bring a fresh perspective on life, many of us will make resolutions and hope to stick to them! A new year's resolution that many people make is to be healthier... That could mean doing more exercise, eating healthier, losing weight or just drinking more green tea! But what does it mean for our horses?
Could we be doing more to get our horses at peak health? Of course! Here are a few ideas that might help make 2016 great for you and your horse!
Use January to start planning your season/year.
If you are a show jumper, have a look at competitions run at local yards, get in contact with other show jumping friends so that you can compete or train together, you could even lift pool!
If you enjoy eventing, whether affiliated or unaffiliated, you could have a look at cross country schooling and get in contact with your favourite places to train to ask when they open for the year. You need to be more willing to travel for eventing as it's more of a national discipline than a local one! Get out and have lessons/school before the season has begun, cross country isn't the only area you need to work on for eventing, dressage and show jumping play just as big parts in your overall success!
Dressage is much the same as show jumping, look for local competitions or clinics and try to improve yourself and your horse as much as possible!
Just like hacking? You can still plan your year! Have a look at maps or your area, are there new routes you could try out? Could you box over to a bridle path to get a change of scenery? You could also have a look at fun rides near you as they can be a great way to meet new people and a nice way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon!
Ride as much as possible, the fitter your horse is, the healthier he will be! Fitness is key in helping to prevent anything from lumps and bumps on your horse's legs to twisted or sore backs!
If your horse has been out of work for a while, assuming your horse is turned out for a few hours a day, you should be riding in walk only for a few weeks, then move up to trot work (hill work is fantastic for building fitness and muscle). Next, work on your canter; the best canter work comes from good trot work so strive to work your horse in a good contact in all three paces! Collected canter improves the muscle across the top of your horse’s neck and back, this is vital in preparing for strenuous work!
Remember: Schooling isn’t the only thing you can do with your time, hacking is great for your horse, especially when getting him fit! Schooling sessions need to be much shorter than your hacks as the sessions in an arena are much more challenging. If you hack for an hour, your time in the school should only be about twenty minutes long!
You should also try to vary your work. If you work your horse three times a week, try to make one of those sessions a hack and one a jumping/grid
work session, if you only like to do dressage, get a friend to jump your horse because jumping is a great way of loosening up and keeping your horse's stress levels down. A good, forward canter is also something your horse needs, sometimes the only way to get an open canter is while out hacking but horses need to run, it's in their DNA!
When schooling on the flat, try using different exercises and movements, such as serpentines and grid work, to save your horse from boredom and keep concentration.
What you feed can make a massive difference to your horse's health so research what the best feeds and supplements for him could be (or ask us/check out our 'Feeding' blog post, we're happy to help)!
Aromatherapy and Bach flower Remedies
Natural remedies deserve much more credit than they get! Would you prefer to pump chemicals into your body or your horse's body or would you rather use natural herbs and plants that have been available to mammals for hundreds of thousands of years? We know what we would prefer! The best investment you could make all year would be to buy some Bach Flower Remedies and some essential oils, look at our blog post Natural Remedies for more information or comment below for help!