Won’t Ride, Will Horse

Back in 2018, when I was recovering from my hip replacement, I wrote a guide called “Can’t Ride, Can Horse” with some suggestions for things you can do relating to horses when you can’t ride.  Nearly 2 years later, we are ALL in a fairly similar situation.  The BHS have said

“We advise that it is not appropriate to put unnecessary pressure on the emergency services and everyone should make their own individual decision as whether riding is necessary at this time.”

Personally, as you’ll see from my March Madness post, I decided to stop riding a few weeks ago but I have found plenty of things to do instead and have lots of ideas that I haven’t got to yet.

Most of these assume you can still see your horse/go to the yard. Under current UK rules, you are still allowed to tend to your horses -as that is essential to their welfare – unless your yard owner says otherwise or you are ill/shielding/self isolating as long as you follow social distancing rules.  I am in no way encouraging anyone to travel unnecessarily.  Please use your own judgement as to which of these are suitable for you.

Exercise

With the health of your horse in mind, if you are not riding anymore and intend on roughing them off, you need to decrease their exercise slowly.  If you are hoping to continue to exercise your horse – while the government still permits it – these ideas work too.

  • Walking in hand – I am aware that this isn’t an option for everyone but if it is safe to do so, walking your horse in hand is exercise for both of you!  Make sure you use a bridle rather than a headcollar if you are actually going somewhere!
  • Lunging – Lunging is generally considered to be a pretty safe way of exercising your horse (as long as you wear gloves and a hat).  Just be careful not to do too much as going around in circles does put strain on your horse’s joints.
  • Groundwork/Liberty/Trick training – There are so many activities you can do with your horse on the ground to improve your bond and have fun!
  • Stretches – If you don’t already do this with your horse, now would certainly be the time to start!

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Help

  • Buddy up – With key workers working more than ever, parents having their children at home and travel being restricted it might be worth buddying up to help others with their yard jobs. At my yard we are spreading our visits through the day and sharing some of the jobs while there is no staff
  • Adopt/sponsor – Some equestrian businesses have lost nearly their entire income probably for the rest of the year but still need to feed and care for their animals.  Many – my yard included – have set up adoption or sponsorship schemes so if you have a few pounds to spare, this might be something you can get involved with.

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Spring clean

  • Grooming – Now is the time to help your horse to lose their winter coat and to get rid of that winter grime.  I’ve tried out a lot of shedding tools but my favourite is the SleekEZ.
  • Bathing – The weather has improved and now seems like a good time to be giving them a spring bath.  Even though we won’t be going out to any lessons or competitions, I can’t wait to get my Carr & Day & Martin Stain Removing Shampoo out to turn Pea’s brown legs white again and set her up for a cool summer rather than a sweaty, hairy one.
  • Brushes – If you’re going to get your horse clean, now would also be a great time to clean your brushes.  I have some much loved Eqclusive Haas brushes and I just hand-wash them in a bucket of warm, soapy water then hand them on the washing line to dry!
  • Leather – Give your tack and your boots a “birthday”.  If you’re not going to be using them for a while, it makes sense to give them a thorough clean and think about how to store them without the risk of them getting mouldy.  Carr & Day & Martin do a product called Ko-Cho-Line which has been produced for this very purpose.
  • Rugs – If you have got the skills and equipment, now would be a great time to mend and wash your rugs but at the very least you can sort them and store any that you won’t need for a while.
  • Washing – It is not just rugs that need washing.  If you are not riding, you’ll be free to wash all your numnahs so that they are squeaky clean for use on the other wise.
  • Trailer/Lorry – We won’t be using our horse lorries and trailers for a while so it is a good opportunity to tidy, clean and sort them out (if you are able to access them without breaking government rules).  It is also worth considering the security of your vehicles as, while there are less people out and about, there seems to be a rise in thefts.

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Other

  • Photos – As well as sorting out your own photos (getting some printed and backing them up) why not check out official competition photos from previous events and order yourself some.  I’m sure the photographers would appreciate it in these tough times.
  • Evaluate – There is little point in planning a competition schedule at the moment because we have no idea when we might be out and about again but it is a good time to look back at the last year/season and reflect on what went well and what you intend on doing differently next time around.

Tried and Tested: Derby House Medium Rug

I’m a big fan of letting horses be horses but I’m also very much a believer that if we expect our four legged friends to be athletes and perform for us then we have to treat them accordingly. As you will know from In Too Deep, I clipped Pea in preparation for the Area Qualifiers and when a layer of natural rug comes off, a layer needs replacing. Luckily, my favourite rug brand Derby House had very kindly lined us up with a medium weight rug to replace Pea’s lightweight when the time came.

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I chose the Pro Frenchie Print Medium Combo Turnout Rug – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you can’t have cute patterned rugs when you’ve got a cute little pony, when can you?  They even have accessories to match!  If you’re not a dog fan, they also have Christmas designs, unicorn print, plain colours as well as black and frequently add new prints to their collection (you might have seen last year’s cow print that Pea had!)

Derby House say this rug is “crafted from a tough 250gr diamond weave print that is durable, waterproof and breathable and 200 gram of warm polyfill you can be sure that your horse will be warm, protected and dry no matter what the weather has in store” and Pea would certainly agree.  She has been wearing hers for over a month now; we have had periods of torrential rain, a night of snow and a whole heap of mud and she has stayed warm, dry and clean throughout.

Leaning over wire fences and being a generally mischievous little scamp has challenged the ripstop outer of the rug.  It is scratched but the waterproofness hasn’t been compromised yet though it will need mending at the end of the season.  The classic Derby House design has robust neck buckles and chest clips.  In all the Derby House rugs I have had, I’ve never had an issue with the hardware and this rug is no different.

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If you are in the market for a cosy, well-designed rug for your four-legged friend this winter I highly recommend you give Derby House’s website a visit.

Trailer Tales

I’ve had my trailer (an Ifor Williams 505) for just over a year now which has had me thinking about the many many uses it has..

Freedom

Being able to chose where and when I want to go for a lesson, only having to rely on my partner to come with me is fantastic. Pea and I are lucky to have found a good instructor who we travel to regularly.

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Competing

Before I had the trailer I had only competed at home or (once) when paying for transport.  Having the trailer has made the ordeal of going out to compete so much more realistic – yes I’ve only managed it once so far but watch this space!  I know in the modern world you can compete from the comfort of your own yard over the internet but I just don’t feel like that has the same achievement factor for me.

Obviously these reasons are the whole purpose of a trailer, but then we have the more bizarre uses..

Moving

A year ago we moved all my belongings (and my precious pony) across counties and two weeks ago we moved house again! We had no need to hire a van or removal people, the trailer had things sussed. We did get a few funny looks and remarks from our new neighbours though, particularly when it was sat, unhitched in front of our drive!

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Shopping

As well as moving the belongings we already had, since we moved house this time, the trailer has been with us to B & Q to buy building supplies for the new wall under our stairs!  We watched a few people strapping plaster board to the top of their cars and felt quite smug we just had to slide it into the trailer.

Changing Room

More often than not I use my trailer as a changing room when I get to the yard after work.  When the yard is busy with kids, clients and the boss’s husband, an enclosed space with limited windows is perfect for a quick change!

Housing

My guinea pigs have temporarily moved into a trailer (in their hutch) before when I stayed at the yard for pony camp (they wouldn’t have been safe if they were exposed to the yard pets!) and our goats have a beat up old trailer as their field shelter so trailers can come in use as temporary housing too.

Camping

Following on from the idea of using a trailer to house animals, I’m adamant that it would make a good alternative to a tent if more plush accommodation wasn’t available.. my other half isn’t so keen!

I would love to hear if you have any other good uses for a horse trailer!

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