When I found out I was pregnant I made the decision to stop riding Spike. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would start right back up with riding after the baby is born, but I didn’t want to completely abandon Spike in the mean time so I came up with a few was to ensure I continued to get my “horsey fix”. If you are unable to ride, for whatever reason, then these 8 things to do with your horse (other than riding) are sure to help you too…
Grooming Spike is one of my all time favourite things to do because it’s all about quality time. There isn’t any pressure, no strict schedule, no rules… it’s all about just being in the moment and spending time with him.
Grooming is also a great way to get to know your horse better, figure out their little quirks (like their favourite scratching spot) and keep a close check on their overall health.
I am a HUGE believer in groundwork and think it forms the basis of everything you will ever do with your horse, so every chance I get I like to brush up on some groundwork skills.
If you’ve not tried doing groundwork with your horse before I’d recommend starting out small by working on something like lateral flexion and building up to more advanced skills.
A great tool to help you with your groundwork (and one of my favourite books) is 101 Horsemanship Exercises by Rio Barrett.
3. Liberty/Trick Training
Another great way to spend some time with your horse is teaching them tricks or doing some liberty work.
As above, I’d recommend starting small – with basic groundwork skills – and working up to more advanced tricks and manoeuvres.
4. Simply spending time…
Sometimes I like to just sit out in Spike’s paddock and watch him being a horse – grazing, rolling, scratching… doing all the things he generally just enjoys doing. Sometimes he will come over and say hello and other times he will keep to himself.
Watching horses in the paddock is also a great way to learn about the body language horses use to communicate.
5. Learn something new
If you can’t ride then you can use the downtime you have to teach yourself something new. Been wondering about a particular condition that effects horses, want to know what the normal body temp range is, or how colour is determined when breeding?
Use this time to teach yourself something about your equine pal!
6. Set up an agility course
I once made a whole bunch of agility course props – like a bridge, small cavalettis, tarp tunnels etc. Using them with Spike was SO much fun and gave us an opportunity to learn to work together better on the ground.
It also helped boost both of our confidence!
7. Go swimming or take a bath
When I first got Spike he was TERRIFIED of water. You could barely get near him with a wet sponge let alone a running hose and so we spent a tonne of time working on that. It’s now one of our favourite summer activities!
8. Go to some local horse events or clinics
Watching others ride may not be your ideal way of spending your time when you’re unable to ride, but watching others (or going to clinics) can be super beneficial to your riding… it’ll allow you to pick up tips and tricks to better your riding or groundwork skills and still gives you a little of your horsey fix!