How to Make the Most of Lockdown
It’s not been the year anyone had planned. First EHV-1 put our winter season on hold, then we had 5 of what felt like the wettest months in history, and equestrian centres all over the country have now closed. It’s safe to say that many equestrians will be feeling a little demoralised.
The jury is out when it comes to whether we should be riding in these difficult times – with some equestrians choosing to ride, while others avoid anything potentially dangerous. While we recommend doing what you can for yours and your horse’s mental and physical wellbeing, try to steer clear of risky activities and don’t make any huge changes to your horse’s feed or tack.
Feeling a little lost now there’s nothing on? Here’s how to make the most of lockdown.
Give your Horse a Break
While the start of spring is far from the usual time to give your horse a holiday, a lot of owners no longer have a choice. But just because your horse is having a few weeks or even months off doesn’t mean all your hard work has been for nothing.
Most horses respond very well to a little time off. Provided your horse doesn’t need exercise (for example if he is overweight), some time off in the field will do his mental and physical health the world of good. Just keep an eye on his weight once the spring grass comes through.
Work on your Flatwork
If you’re someone who has chosen to continue riding and are lucky enough to be able to ride while also following the Government’s advice, a flatwork bootcamp is exactly what’s in order. Just because the summer season is all but cancelled doesn’t mean there’s nothing to work towards – and finally nailing that half pass, flying change or leg yield will make lockdown a whole lot sweeter.
Work on your Groundwork
If you’ve chosen not to ride for safety reasons, there’s still a huge amount you can do on the ground. While we recommend taking all safety precautions including wearing a hat and gloves; long reining and lunging are great ways to keep your horse fit and healthy while minimising your own risk.
Long reining over raised trot poles will do wonders for your horse’s topline, while also helping to develop your bond. Take the time to work on your horse’s condition and fitness without a rider on his back, and you should see a big improvement once you’re back in the saddle.
Finish Odd Jobs
Any equestrian will know that there are always odd jobs that need doing. Whether it’s fixing a fence, sorting out your tack room or finally cleaning your boots, now is the perfect time to get those jobs done. Not only will this mean when you finally get back on the horse you can relax and enjoy yourself, it also gives you something productive to do while isolating!
Riding is great exercise, but just because you’re not spending time in the saddle doesn’t mean you should let your physical fitness take a hit. Core strength, leg strength and even mental strength are all vital when it comes to riding, and if you’re somebody who regularly parts company with your horse, now is the perfect time to work on your balance and core strength.
Pilates, yoga and general strength training will get you fitter and stronger, while also improving your balance. Online yoga and pilates classes will help you recognise your strengths and weaknesses – helping to redress imbalances in your body. You’ll come back to the saddle fitter, stronger and better able to sit your horse’s antics!
While goal setting may seem a little pointless to some, this is a fantastic time to reflect on what you’ve achieved and set out what you want to achieve. Whether you’re able to ride or not, having a plan in place for when everything is back up and running will help keep you motivated during these stressful times.
Set both short term and long term goals, and don’t forget to acknowledge what you’ve already achieved this year – even if your only achievement was getting through 5 months of mud!
Advice changes everyday, and what’s allowed one minute is off limits the next. For now, we are allowed to ride but this could change in the next few weeks as health services become more stretched.
Staying informed will help you put the best plan in place for your horses, whether that’s organising help if you get sick, or building up your fitness for that first show of the year.