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5 ideas to keep your horses happy in lockdown from ReadySupp Rider Coral Keen

 I hope everyone is keeping healthy during these difficult times. 

For the moment 2020 looks to sadly be on hold, whilst we all do our bit to stay at home and stay safe. However, our horses still need care and attention, albeit, with the focus being away from competitions and intense training. 

So, with this in mind, I wanted to share 5 ideas with you, about how you can use your downtime effectively with your horse. 

1. Get to know them 

Take notice when you are grooming your horse, to see whether they have any tightness in any particular areas. Take some time to run your hands over their bodies whilst grooming, to see if there are any areas that feel firm or soft through their muscles. Really look at them and see where you could work to build those muscles up in the future. 

2. Carrot Stretches 

Doing different carrot stretches is a really interesting way to see how supple your horse is and also see where their weaknesses may lie – for example being stiffer one way than the other. Make sure you have a good supply of carrots and then use the carrot as an incentive to: 

  • Bend your horse around to either shoulder 
  • See how far your horse can reach around to the stifle area each side, then towards the hip and then right down to the back foot. Never push them, but just slowly and gradually build up their flexibility and reach. 
  • Stretch them down between their front legs to get them up through their backs. 

3. Long Reining 

I am such a believer in long reining, but quite often find I don’t have time once they have been broken in to re-visit it as much as I would like. Now might be a good time to pick it back up if you are confident and know how to. As it is an additional activity for the horses and so good to get them thinking forward and working from behind. 

4. Establishing a solid relationship on the ground 

Again, this could be a good time to make sure you horse is polite and respectful on the ground. Make sure they have discipline by being firm but fair and repeating things until they understand and there is mutual respect. From standing and waiting quietly, to not barging in and out of the stable. The submission on the ground is just as important and makes everyone’s lives easier for when we do go back out and compete. 

5. Reflecting on past videos 

Now could be a really good time to have a look through your riding videos to evaluate the positives and negatives from past performances and identify some areas you would like to improve. For example, if you are watching a dressage test, are you halting square and riding accurately to your markers as a rider? Are you nailing your transitions? When it comes to jumping, again you can evaluate your ring craft, are you using the turns and jumping in the middle of your fences? You can also look to see if you feel you have the right jumping canter and adjustability. All things, that you can quietly be thinking about and making plans for how you can improve them, ready for when we are back out competing. 

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