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Can’t Compete?  What will you do…..

With the country (not to mention the world) in a state of uncertainty and horse events being cancelled or postponed people have been getting very upset.  But why do we compete?  For some people it’s their job and they get paid to compete horses and that makes it tough for them!  For others, is it the chase of the elusive rug?  To pitch yourself against others and see how you do?  Is it seeing the progress you are making with your horse?  Or do you just like getting out and about!  We all compete for different reasons, but just because we can’t compete at the moment doesn’t mean we can’t improve ourselves or our horses.  Now, when you have all the time in the world and are not super busy prepping for a particular event, (or broke trying to pay for them all!)  is the best time to get your horse and yourself in tip top shape before the competitions begin again.  Below we have included 10 things that you could do instead of competing!

1.  Go back to basics.  Have you been noticing that your horse might not move off the left leg as well as the right?  Or one canter lead might be better then the other?  But you usually spend more time working on getting those flying changes clean?  With no competitions looming it is the perfect time to sort out the small things that will help improve the bigger issues.  a lot of the time we lose focus on the basics of the training scale in order to meet some of the criteria for competition.  Now is a great opportunity to improve your walk, or work on rhythm or balance etc.

2.  Don’t stop the bodywork!  Just because there are no competitions doesn’t mean stop protecting your horses muscular health.  Usually we train a lot harder then we compete, so it is just as important in this down time, to keep your horses muscles as healthy as possible.  Maybe you could take this opportunity to learn some basic bodywork you can do on your own horse!

3. Get a stretching regime in place.  Stretching is one of the most important things that you can do for your horse (and yourself).  A lot of the time people are too busy riding that they may not thing about a stretching day instead.  Or just not have the time to stretch before or after a ride.  Stretching does not just mean physically picking up your horses leg and stretching it, stretches can also be dynamic when you’re in the saddle.  If you’re unsure what stretches you should do with your horse there are plenty of resources available both on this website and elsewhere.

4.  Try something new.  Cross training is so beneficial for horses, in terms of physical and emotional health, but usually we get so caught up in the discipline that we compete in that we forget to do a wider variety of things with our horses.  Trying a different discipline will not only test your horses body and the communication you have between you, but it will also enhance brain stimulation both for you and the horse!  You never know, you might find something else you’re really good at!!

5.  Learn Online.  What will you do with all those evenings free when you don’t have to plait up, or those weekends without competitions?  There is going to be more available online then we have ever seen before in order to provide access to people who are in lock down or self isolation etc.  What an opportunity to learn something new that you may not have been able to before due to either time or location constraints!  I’ve just signed up for an online course in how to use pinterest for education!!

6.  Don’t let your horses go to pasture….  In Australia at least, the competition season has only just begun and most of us are only just getting our horses up to the physical condition that we need them to be in to compete. Yes we can take the pressure off a bit now, but don’t let your hard work go to waste.  This is a real time of uncertainty for us as a nation and no one really knows when large gatherings will be able to take place again, so don’t let this time go to waste.  Keep your horse in good physical fitness, and keep up with their training.

7. Work on your own fitness and physical issues!  Often we feel like we don’t have time to focus on ourselves.  Why not use this opportunity to sort out any physical issues you might have.  You might have needed to have surgery that was going to set you back for a few months….. now might be the opportune time (well perhaps surgery wasn’t my best example as hospitals are probably not the place you want to be electing to go at the moment!!).  But maybe see the chiro or get those massages you promised yourself!!

8. Join a club.  Face it, we compete a little bit for the social interactions as well as all the other reasons we might have!  A lot of us who spend most weekends competing don’t have the time to join a local riding club (wether it be Adult Riders, Pony Club, Dressage Club, Team Penning etc).  But so long as whatever the current recommended rules for social distancing are followed why not join your local club?  It could be a great way of meeting some new people, or even picking up a new skill.  And it might stop a bit of the boredom as well!

9.  Try an online competition…..  I know, I’m confused too, and I’m not a particularly competitive person so this concept is a bit alien for me…  But if you are one of those people that just lives for the adrenalin of competition, why not try an online one!  Did you even know this was a thing?  I must admit that I was only just introduced to the concept myself but hey, why not give it a go!!  All you might need is a phone/camera and a tripod or person happy to film you!!  I mean it’s not going to work for every discipline, but I know of at least one online horse event company who offers dressage, western dressage and trail so why not hit google up and see what’s out there?  Or get your thinking cap on and start something local to you!!  Who knows where this could go 🙂

10.   Stay Positive.  This may be a very stressful and scary time for you, especially with the mass panic that is happening around the globe, but please try and stay positive.  We as horse owners and riders are very lucky, as we have something more in our lives, our horses.  Now is a good time with so much negativity and fear,  to appreciate how lucky you actually are to be able to own and/or ride such a creature.  Horses are also extremely therapeutic and healing so take the time to hug your horse.  And if you know someone who might be especially worried or stressed, then so long as you both feel comfortable (about social distancing, hygiene etc)  then why not invite them to come and visit your horse.  So long as they’re not petrified of horses or you don’t have a horse who’s more likely to bite your face off then nuzzle you, you cannot imagine how uplifting it can be for a non horse owner to be in the presence of a horse.

Stay safe and hopefully this will all be over sooner then we think 🙂