Christmas holidays? Do something different with your horse
You're on a break, it's the middle of summer so when you live in Australia, chances are that temperatures are souring high above the comfort zone. Sure, you can sneak in an early morning ride, try a trail ride and find shade amongst the trees. Or, if you want to spend some time bonding with your horse, you can try something different and fun! Here are a few ideas to try out:
1. Take your horse for a walk and explore the neighborhood. Let your horse graze, sniff and see new sights. In the wild horses travel vast distances and come across different things every day. Your horse will really enjoy exploring new places with you.
2. Hang out with your horse. Sit in your horse’s pasture. No agenda. You might find that your horse will come over and stand near you and enjoy this ‘do nothing’ time. Take a book if you find it hard to just sit.
3. Find a treat your horse really likes. This can be used for training, as a reward when they do something really well or just as a special treat because you love them. I love tying up an apple, carrot and some bread to a piece of string, hang it up somewhere and let them play around with it.
4. Find your horses ‘Favorite Scratching Spot’. A lot of horses love to be scratched in a certain spot. Find that special spot. It is usually somewhere they can’t reach, like their withers, or the top of their neck. Looks for signs that you have found ‘The Spot’. These include eyes glazing over, a quivering lip or they may return the favor by scratching you. Research has shown that rubbing or scratching a horse on its withers has a calming effect. If you can find a spot your horse really loves then you can use this as a reward during training.
5. Try training your horse without any restraints, at liberty. Your training will need to be fun and engaging to encourage your horse to stay with you. But it is wonderful when they make the choice to be with you.
6. Braid your horse’s mane. Be creative. Be gentle. Most horses like to have their mane stroked or gently brushed.
7. Pick up things you have dropped. Teach your horse to pick things up, for example your hat. This will be helpful if you drop something while you are riding. You won’t have to get off – just ask your horse to pick up the object and pass it to you.
8. Back your horse by just pointing at their chest or nose. This will make it easier to move your horse around.
9. Work on those little annoying problems. Does your horse do something that is a bit annoying but you just put up with it? Spend a few minutes every day just working on fixing this problem. Several short sessions are better than one long one.
10. Build an obstacle horse course. Start simple and then add items as your horse gets more confident. Horses are naturally curious so they will enjoy exploring these new objects. Plus obstacle courses are a great way to get your horse used to scary objects while they are at home and this can make them calmer out on the trail. Add things to your obstacle course that you might find when you are out riding, for example rubbish bins and plastic bags.
If you have any good ideas, feel free to let us know as we love trying out new things too! Enjoy the holiday season, enjoy your horse!