After the excitement of Christmas is over, most of us are ready for a little fresh air and exercise by Boxing Day. Why not put one of these on your Christmas ‘to do’ list this year.
1. Attend your local Boxing Day meet. If you aren’t going mounted, then do show your support by attending on foot — there’s sure to be a great atmosphere and a good turnout. If you want to work off some festive calories, why not follow on foot for a bit, as well?
2. Organise a ‘horse and hound’ competition. Keep the festive fun flowing with a fun ‘dog and dobbin’ event. Riders have to complete a low round of jumps with their horses, then dismount and do the course on foot with their dogs, all while the clock’s still running. Offer fun prizes such as ‘best human jumping style’, ‘best fancy dress costume’ and ‘most enthusiastic canine competitor’.
3. Get out the map, and plan a long ride. On Boxing Day, the sun rises at roughly 8am and sets just before 4pm. Horses walk at an average of 3mph, so you should be able to fit in a good long ride comfortably, even if you walk the whole way. Remember to take mince pies and turkey sandwiches!
4. Get a group of friends together, and hire an indoor school. A lot of riding schools and yards are quiet over Christmas, and there’s a good chance their facilities will be available. Taking a small group helps keep the cost down and keeps you motivated.
5. Hit the sales! Your best chance of getting a bargain is to visit the retailer in person rather than shopping online, as some end-of-lines or single items never make it to the website. Make it a social event by taking friends or family with you and going for afternoon tea afterwards to compare purchases.
6. If you can’t ride because of the weather, then make the most of Boxing Day by… having a clear out! This is a great opportunity to sort out all those little jobs you struggle to get round to — digging out deep litter really thoroughly and drying the floor, sorting out your tack room and cleaning and mending as appropriate or washing and organising your grooming kit. Sort out your own wardrobe as well — anything that doesn’t fit or that doesn’t get used needs weeding out. Have a ‘swap shop’ party with friends and trade what you don’t want.
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7. Give your horse a mini-makeover. The weather could mean that your horse is spending a lot of time rugged up, and the lack of daylight means it’s more difficult to carry out thorough checks. Spend an hour or so on Boxing Day giving him a really thorough groom to get him gleaming — more satisfying than a James Bond film!
8. Organise a charity event. Another name for Boxing Day is St. Stephen’s Day, and as St. Stephen is one of the patron saints of horses, using his day to raise money for an equestrian charity seems appropriate. Try a table top tack sale, fun ride or offer to muck out friends’ stables for a donation.
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