Lockdown has been a great opportunity for our animals to have some well-earned rest and relaxation, but the competition season is (hopefully) very nearly upon us. If your horse has been playing the role of resident grass louse or semi-retired pensioner for the past year, it might be time to ease him back into some kind of routine.
As summer creeps closer and shows start to fill the diary, here are eight thoughts that may pop into your head while you’re both getting back into work…
1. “Can we get away with one more week off?”
This is a bit like when you say you’re going to start a new diet and promise yourself every Sunday night that tomorrow really is the day. You’ve put riding again off for a while. Even when you’re tacking up you’ll consider if one more week of taking it easy will really do any harm. Sometimes you know you need to kick yourself up the backside and just start.
2. “Am I going to be in danger?”
Obviously you know your own horse and his tendencies when he’s been on holiday, but spring is definitely in the air and a horse who hasn’t been in work for a while is likely to be feeling a little fresh. So have someone on hand to help if you need it and take sensible precautions before you launch yourself on board. Safety first now may avoid you having to take the rest of the season off. Now where is that neck strap?
3. “He’s so unfit”
Once you’re on, you ride one lap of the arena and your horse is already holding up the white flag. A good fitness level takes a long time to achieve, so don’t overdo it and build your horse’s workload up gradually. If you’re looking for advice on how to get your horse fit, we are here to help (click on the link).
4. “I’m even less fit than my horse!”
Whoever said riders just sit there, doesn’t have a clue! They always say your lungs give out before your legs during exercise, but you swear your thighs were burning after you’d stepped up on to the mounting block. Yikes.
5. “I need a lesson”
Everything feels a little rusty and rough around the edges. Don’t sweat it if it’s your first time on board in a while, just remember what your Pony Club instructor would tell you back in the day — head up, heels down and be positive. Fool proof.
6. “How long do I have before my first outing?”
So, if we start practicing now, I have exactly 63 days, 4 hours and 7 minutes until I’m in the arena.
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Are any of these going through your mind?
7. “I’ve really missed this”
Sometimes you wonder why you ever had a break from riding. Oh yeah, dark nights, constant rainfall and no competitions/training/hunting/fun rides. Now I remember…
8. “I really need to clean my tack”
One of those lockdown jobs that just never got done, are we right?
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