We all know what January is like. Wet, muddy, cold, dark in the evenings and mornings. Christmas is over and spring feels an age away. You might even have been heard to mutter darkly, “Why do I have horses?” as you put your hands in another icy water trough or tramp through another gateway with a knee-high bog.
To help you through it, here are seven ways of getting your horsey mojo back…
1. Book a trip
What’s your favourite event of the year? The one you’ve always promised yourself you’d go to but never quite got round to visiting? Whether it’s Badminton, Royal International or Olympia, sort a visit out now — tickets, travel, hotel. If you feel like you’ve done all the big British shows and your budget can stand it, how about looking further afield? Luhmühlen, Aachen or Spruce Meadows, anyone?
2. Try a new exercise
If you always do the same old things when you school or jump, you’ll be bored and so will your horse. Take a look back through the Masterclass exercises in old copies of H&H for inspiration.
3. Find a clinic
Your regular trainer may be wonderful, but provided you and your mount are established enough not to get confused, a new pair of eyes can work wonders and freshen up your ideas. If you don’t have a horse or you’re lacking transport, why not ask if you can go along and watch? Visit Equo to get booking.
4. Learn a new skill
Terrible at plaiting or pulling tails? Find that friend who can do it to perfection and take a lesson. Always wanted to know how to make a wisp? Dig out that old Pony Club manual.
5. Think about what you need out of the saddle
Performance when riding isn’t just down to what you do on the horse. If you’ve got a niggling injury, now’s the time to visit the doctor or physio. If you’re always a bit puffed by the end of your round, perhaps you could start a light running or gym programme. And if you struggle mentally when competing, a few sessions with a sports psychologist could revolutionise your experience.
6. Challenge your friends to a horsey quiz evening
You could each take a topic and write the questions for that section, so you each sit out one round. The tie-breaker? Fastest person to put together a double bridle.
7. Have a sale
You know you don’t need all those rugs… Or the boots that fitted the pony you sold three years ago… Or the breeches you received for Christmas which are six inches too long but Auntie Marge didn’t have the receipt. Find a way to get some money back on them, whether it’s selling to friends at the yard, through eBay or a car boot sale. And then use the cash for the horsey items you really need. Or waterproof trousers.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday