Ways to Spend Time with your Horse
Time spent with your horse doesn’t have to be riding, there are a lot of opportunities for bonding in and out of the ring. Today, I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite out of the saddle activities that I love to do with all horses.
Long Groom – Though you groom your horse every day, take a little extra time to give your horse even more love. Find specific spots on your horse’s body where they enjoy being curried and spend a little extra time there. JT loves a good scratch on his neck and behind his ear. Another key tip is to find the brushes that your horse loves. For example, there are so many different types of curries in the world; try a massage curry or a grooming mitt for a change.
Bathing – If it’s warm enough, I love to scrub all the extra/old dirt and dead skin off of my horse’s body with a good shampoo. JT’s butt and tail can get so dirty, so I love to focus on shampooing them the most. Most of the time we are bathing our horses in prep for a show so we are rushing to do a million different things. Slow it down, learn what your horse likes (or doesn’t like) about a bath, and make it soothing and enjoyable instead of just functional.
Stretching session – Try some nice stretches with your horse. Specifically, carrot stretches. Take the carrot and bring it back to their stomach (on both sides) and then take the carrot in between their front legs. Stretching is so good for their bodies; it can help prevent injuries and you may notice they are more comfortable and limber in the rings. Here’s a more informational guide: here
Learn – When I have extra time at the barn, I love to learn and practice new things. About 6 months ago, I learned how to wrap, and have loved the 20 minutes I get to spend with JT while I poultice and wrap him. This is time well spent. Getting to know his body is crucial to possibly catching an injury or soreness before it becomes a big deal. My next goal is to learn how to braid!
Photo-sesh – It’s pretty self-explanatory, but I love a good photo session with just my iPhone. I just adore JT’s face and love to have so many photos of him on my camera roll. And it’s an extra opportunity to just be touching and talking to your horse!
Natural Horsemanship – I tried this with my old horse, Rory, and it worked wonders. Rory was a difficult horse to handle at times and using Pat Parelli’s methods truly helped me. One to start with is the “joining up” exercise; you can check it out in Pat Parelli’s YouTube: here. I did this with Rory and almost immediately felt more in-sync with him.
Hand-walk – Hand-walking is possibly one of my favorite things to do with JT whether at home or at a horse show. I find it really relaxing and relieving to walk around the property with JT and talk his ear off (lol!). I spend around 15-30 minutes walking him around and seeing different sights of the grounds we may have never noticed or seen before (or check out some of the scary things). When we first arrived at HITS, I walked JT around the property for three times a day and it was nice to not only spend time with him, but to acclimate him at HITS.
Graze – While out for your walk or post-ride, take your horse for a nice graze! Play some quiet music, talk to them, or just be quiet and think. So much of our time with our horses is spent in the chaos of lessons or competing, it’s nice to allow them to just relax in our presence and just be.
School/HW – This might sound silly, but read to your horse. Schools use reading dogs to get elementary school kids to practice reading, why not do it with your horse?!? If you have the time, go out to the paddock or hang out near their stall and read a book, your own personal choice or a boring old history textbook, aloud to them! Enjoying it with your horse might actually motivate you to do more.