9 ways to survive being horseless this spring

  • There are plenty of ways to get your horsey kicks (pun absolutely intended) while enduring a horseless patch, says Jane Hutchison

    Spring has finally arrived, the daylight hours have increased and the competition season is kicking into gear.

    It’s a great time of year for horsey people after the drudgery of a long winter. But for those of us who are firmly in the horsey camp but for any number of reasons currently find ourselves without a horse, it’s a strange challenging and frustrating time of year.

    Here are nine ways to get you through a horseless patch:

    1. Offer to help friends. If they are the kind of friends who have more horses in the family than riders, so much the better. Riders who are students might be busy with exams at this time of year whilst trying to get horses fit for the season. Let them know that you are happy to help with chores as well as riding. Poo picking is much more fun when you haven’t done it for six months. Ditto hacking out on the road in walk at the beginning of a post-winter fitness campaign.

    2. Be creative with your spectating. If dressage is normally your discipline, go to a point-to-point, if you are a showjumper, go to a horse trials. You will still have the pleasure of watching horses perform and compete but won’t be putting yourself through watching the people you were competing against this time last year in the classes you would be in, if you still had your horse.

    3. Or, if you are going to go to an event you would have been competing at, offer to go with a friend as a groom. Pick up numbers, hold the horse while your friend goes for their fourth nervous pee, bring the correct rug to the collecting ring. Bring cake. Oh, and pick up poo in the trailer.

    4. If you have several extra hours in your day that would previously have been spent at the yard, you are likely to have more time to be tempted to have a peek at social media. Peek in moderation. Looking at pictures of what your friends are up to with their horses can be a great way to still feel in the loop and they will appreciate your positive comments and likes but spending whole evenings looking at people doing what you are currently missing out on can be soul-destroying. Unfollow anyone who moans about the early starts or going to two events in one weekend. Seriously?

    5. Go for lessons in a completely new discipline on a hired horse. The Side Saddle Association has lists of approved teachers, some of whom will teach you on their own horses. Or why not try your hand at polo or barrel racing?

    6. Get a subscription to Horse & Hound. For the same price as a couple of bags of feed, a whole week’s worth of horsey news and gossip will be yours every week. With all the money you are saving not having a horse, you can definitely afford a few little comforting treats.

    7. And while we’re on the subject of comfort shopping, get yourself the breeches, boots or body protector you have been eyeing up for years. You will look smarter when you go to ride your friend’s horse and you will be investing in your future riding.

    8. At risk of sounding like non-horsey mothers up and down the land; think about something else. Most of us are not so one track minded that we have no other interests. Go to the theatre, read that book you always meant to read, agree to play tennis or go for a round of golf. (Let your friends and yourself know that your availability for non-equestrian sports on summer evenings is temporary).

    9. Most importantly don’t give up hope. Horses are in our blood and that never changes. Trust that you will find a way to get back into the game as a horse owner again when you have a new job/move house/your children are older. The state of horselessness is temporary. It will pass.

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