Once upon a time the weather was lovely. By this, I mean last weekend, when I was massaging people and horses outdoors (well the people were in a tent) and we all had t-shirts on. This weekend we have had to cancel a clinic due to the hideousness of the wind and rain. Winter is coming, and for those of us who live on the side of a Tor, 1300 feet above sea level, this can be a bit of a challenge horse wise.
However, even if you don’t live in such an extreme landscape with it’s accompanying climate, the onset of bad weather can fill all horse owners with dread. Here we go again; plastic bags in wellies to keep out the wet (oh hang, Small ate my wellies, so I don’t own any); foot abscesses (already got duct tape and pads on one set of feet); wet tack; no daylight; huge haylage bills; and usually, less riding. Blurggh. So, how are we going to keep our spirits up? Here are some ideas...
Spend time with your horse doing nothing! We tend to be so busy and always ‘doing’ (even grooming is usually done in the spirit of a job) that we forget how mellow horses actually are and how much they like to just do nothing together. You could listen to a radio play together or literally just hang the f*** out.
Do some reading about horses! When you can’t ride then you have more time to pour over those books you bought and haven’t opened. I’ve been commissioned to write a book (advance already spent on ponies, no writing done so far...) so am doing a tonne of research, and there is a world of wonderfulness out there to be had. I’ll do another blog about some books you might enjoy at a later date.
Learn about how your horses body works. Spend some time with a book in one hand and your other hand on your horse to get to grips with where those muscles actually are, and what they feel like. Feel up other people’s horses if they’ll let you, a very fit horse will feel very different from a retired horse, a draught horse will have a different tone to his muscles than a TB.
Get your basic handling to the level of art form. Make your leading something people would pay to watch. Make picking up your horse’s feet a thing of wonder. Get totally in tune with your horse’s diagonal pairs in a back up of silk. I’ll be running an on-line course about some of this stuff over the winter so look out for that.
Do something off your horse which will help you and your horse when you get back in the saddle. Join a yoga or Pilates class. Practice some meditation. Get a massage. Go out with your friends and laugh until you cry/wet yourself (depending on age).
Do an online course! I never thought I would get much from virtual learning, but I joined Karen Rolfe’s on-line classroom for a few months and got tonnes from it. There are lots of people sharing incredible information at a not huge prices. We’re in an incredible age of information sharing, lap it up! Go to some demonstrations or watch some masterclasses. Even if it’s not someone you would usually be drawn to, you’ll almost always learn something.
*Sleep. Lie down. Drink wine. Sleep. If you have any other ideas about what we can all do to keep our morale up when the weather is grim and the horses are soggy, please share. I should add, this may be a temporary blip and we’ll have a beautiful autumn and a crisp winter and then slide into a sunny spring. Maybe.
Here are two of my marvellous clients a few weeks ago enjoying a lesson on the moor