7 things riders who don’t have fancy facilities can relate to

  • We’ve all imagined what life with our horses would be like if we had fancy facilities, such as an Olympic-sized arena, an on-site cross-country course and a horsewalker for those days when we just don’t have time to ride. But for the majority of us, these are just a dream.

    Most equestrians have to make do with what they have access to. They live within their means, getting the best from their horses without the benefit of a school, a luxurious lorry, or those added extras that many of the top pros can enjoy.

    Here are a few things that riders without fancy equestrian facilities can relate to.

    1. Your schooling exercises are done out hacking

    If you don’t have an arena or a field to ride in, then you’ll use hacking as a chance to teach and train your horse essential basics that form the foundations of quality schooling. Ensuring your horse goes forward while working in a correct outline does not have to be confined to a session in the sand school. Without an arena, you’re challenged to get creative; leg yielding and shoulder-in exercises can be ridden on disused lanes, while on-point walk to canter transitions can be trained on safe areas of grass.

    2. You know the schedule of every local equestrian centre

    Similarly, if you don’t have the luxury of an arena at home, you’ll likely opt to get some outings in ahead of the competitive season so that you have ridden in some sort of rectangle-shaped space ahead of your debut. This means you can recite the price lists, timings and facilities on offer at all of the equestrian centres in your local area.

    3. You’ve become a DIY pro

    With just yourself and/or a few long-suffering family members to help out, you’ve become very handy at fixing anything and everything on the yard, usually on a minimal budget. General maintenance or doing odd jobs doesn’t faze these riders in the slightest. If the fencing is down or a new tie ring needs fitting, you know how to navigate a drill, and if the hedge needs trimming, you can handle a strimmer like a professional gardener.

    4. You can’t sleep the week before your lorry’s MOT

    Sending the old faithful into the garage always provokes anxiety as you worry if she’ll be deemed roadworthy to make it through another MOT. While you regard the stiff door handles, mouldy seats and it’s reluctance to start when the weather is cold as “quirks”, you wonder if the mechanic will think the same…

    5. Or, you don’t have transport so rely on the generosity of friends

    Not every equestrian has the luxury of a lorry or trailer to use at their leisure. In many instances, sharing a load with a yard friend or grabbing a lift en route to a show is the only way to get out and about. Of course, you come prepared with fuel money, baked goods and great banter for the road.

    6. You dread competition prep days

    Without the benefit of a wash bay, a solarium or a hot water shower, you can see why many opt to only go out to play during the warmer seasons. However, if you don’t consider yourself a fair weather competitor, you’ll be all too familiar with the struggle of lugging hot water barrels from your car to the yard, or plaiting under torchlight with frozen fingers. Winter competitions are not for the faint-hearted, and if you have a grey, we really do salute you.

    7. You never let it deter you

    But even without the benefit of fancy facilities, you never let it prevent you and your horse from doing your best and enjoying yourselves along the way.

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