1. Devote more time to your horseTry to organize yourself so that you arrive earlier at the stables and leave later. Staying longer at the barn before and after your session or lesson will allow you to have appropriate time to get your horse ready, and then to untack him without rushing.
Not only will your horse benefit from this as you will have more time to care for him, but your relationship will also improve. Listening to your horse is also very important. Getting to know him better also means being able to quickly detect the slightest problem, physical discomfort, or behavior change.
2. Diversify your activitiesAs for training, try to diversify your activities in order to break the routine and not bore your horse. Think about doing very simple things such as going for a light cardio workout outside, doing a simple warm-up, or a liberty/groundwork session. You can for instance try riding bitless, or bridle-less just using a cord.
For more extreme activities; why not take your horse to the beach, or go on a several days trail ride together. The need for performance should not be systematic, you sometimes have to ask little of your horse, and simply enjoy the moment in order for your horse to be happy and not tired from work.
3. Set objectives to reachOn a similar note, you should set objectives to reach with your horse this year. They can be achieving certain show results, mastering a new dressage, jumping a higher fence height, or simply doing more hacks, and improving your complicity by doing groundwork.
These objectives must of course be realistic (you should discuss them with your coach), and they should be gradual and fixed in time. They will allow you to stay motivated throughout the year, as you will always keep in mind the goals you want to reach, and to measure your performance. A small piece of advice: dividing each objective into sub-objectives is a good way to really see an evolution, which is more important than the result itself in our opinion.
4. Clean your tack regularlyI think it is fair to say that cleaning tack is far from being the favorite task of riding enthusiasts. Unfortunately, if you want to have and maintain quality equipment that will last, it is a necessary step. In addition to cleaning and preserving your tack, it will allow you to check that everything is functioning fine (and thus to avoid having a stirrup break, injuring the horse, etc.).
Storing your equipment in a clean and dry place, daily cleaning it with a sponge and glycerin soap, and thoroughly cleaning it (disassembling it, using soap and then leather grease) once to twice a week is recommended. Taking the time to take care of your riding equipment is a small change to make that will have a big impact on their life span (and incidentally on your bank account as well).
5. Always ride with a helmetSecurity is a key aspect of horseback riding. This year’s resolution (although we do hope most of you already do this): always riding with a helmet, since accidents can happen very quickly. Similarly, you should always warn someone when you go on a hack alone. These simple everyday gestures can prove to b very helpful…
6. Eliminate any potential dangerBut security does not end there, and as riders we must make sure to eliminate any potential danger in the environment of our horses. Taking a look in the barn to ensure there is no fork or other object lying around, and walking around the field/paddock of your horse to check fences and for any object that might injure the horse (a lost shoe for example) among others, are simple changes to implement that might help you avoid a big vet bill.
7. Take care of yourselfA little health tip: we often hear that horseback riding is not a sport, but as all riders know it obviously is a sport. Therefore, as any sport, it is important to 1) properly stretch before a training session to warm-up your muscles and avoid soreness and stiffness, and 2) drink enough water. Riders also need to think about themselves sometimes.
8. Appreciate each momentTo conclude, here is one of the most important resolutions in our opinion, and probably one of the easiest to have: appreciate each moment spent in the saddle, enjoy your horse and make the most of your relationship with him and time spent together. See you soon,
The Seaver team
8th February 2018