Horse owners – Spring is here. The nights are getting lighter, the mornings brighter and our horses… well, they’re either considering retirement as their next discipline, or they’re bounding around from the slightest taste of new grass.
Of course, the clocks have now changed, the eventing season is starting and (hopefully!) warmer weather is coming. It’s also the time for a lot of us dust off our boots and start to get our horses fitter following a steady winter.
Before we start dreaming of halcyon days spent grooming and riding our horses, we firstly need to get ourselves and our horses ready. Here are our top tips!
Tack Check – now is a great time to get your tack out, give it a deep clean and inspect every detail. Mud and grease can cover a multitude of sins, so be sure to give your tack a thorough wipe down and check for weak buckles, loose stitching and cracks in the leather. If you do happen to find any faults with your tack, individual bridle pieces can be sourced from your local tack shop, or from websites like Henry James Saddlery. Your local saddler may also be able to repair your leather work.
Give it a Clean – If your saddlepad stash is anything like ours, you’ll be spoilt for choice as to which saddlepad your horse wears next. Whilst it’s great to be able to pull out a fresh one each time it’s required, the used ones will need a clean too! If you’re unable to wash your saddlepads at home, your local rug washing service will often wash saddlepads too.
Make a Plan – Tempting as it is to go for a long ride at the slightest glimmer of sunshine, make sure you take your horse’s fitness into account. If your horse has been taking it steady over the winter, increase the intensity and frequency of their workload slowly. Remember to also take into account different surfaces, as many horses will need to strengthen before tackling different surfaces.
Set Your Goals – Whilst Summer is on the horizon, we’re not quite there yet! If you struggle for motivation on wet and miserable days, why not plan to attend some events? Booking a local dressage competition, a pleasure ride or even just a ride with friends can give you the boost you need to focus your training.
Get it Checked – Sometimes it feels like our horses are more pampered than us – but it’s important to keep vaccinations, farriery, dentistry, worming, physiotherapy, saddle fitting and bridle fitting up to date. If you need to make any appointments, take the time to schedule these in in advance – it’ll save you the stress or organising things last-minute.
Spring Clean – We’ve already mentioned about getting our tack and saddlepads clean, but having a clear out can be incredibly cathartic! Why not organise a ‘tidy-up’ day with friends – its’ a great opportunity to sort your rugs, brushes, headcollars, tack, boots, sheets, stirrups and more. Creating different sections for items to ‘keep’, ‘clean’, donate’ and ‘recycle’ makes the process much easier. Many horse rescue centres will appreciate donations – just check their requirements before you travel.
Have Fun! – Ultimately, we’re all here for the joy of horses. If the wet weather is putting you off and you’d rather wait until later in the year before you get back on, don’t push yourself too hard. If you’re struggling for motivation but want to get riding again, why not organise a gentle hack with friends? Summer weather will be here before we know it – until then, sit tight and appreciate the small things – like the lack of flies!