We all have those days where we don’t feel like riding. I must admit, I’ve had quite a few recently. I’ve been super busy at work, so sometimes by the time I get to the yard after work, it’s all too easy to muck out and do the essential chores and think “I’ll ride tomorrow instead”. Only to feel a tonne of guilt on the way home that I haven’t spent enough time with Cee or that I’ve done a half-hearted job.
Or sometimes, it’s not a case of “don’t want to ride” but a case of “I can’t ride” if you’re injured, poorly, or even that the school is booked with lessons for the rest of the day. So whatever the reasons, here are some ideas that I’ve put together for those times when you just don’t feel like riding:
- Tack Cleaning Mission
Sometimes when I am physically tired, but want to spend time at the yard in the peace and quiet, I will take a cup of tea in to the tack room and clean my saddle, bridle and boots. It can be quite therapeutic and methodical and is one of those chores that always seems to take back-seat to the more important duties like mucking out and riding. So next time you don’t feel like getting in the saddle, why not clean it instead?
I’m lucky enough to have my horse in a gorgeous countryside location, so sometimes when I don’t want to ride, but need some exercise or fresh air, I will take a walk. My favourite is a short hack around the fields and cross country course, which is surprisingly longer when on foot! Take it to the next level and take your dogs, or even take your horse in-hand so you both benefit from the exercise. Who knows, hacking-in-hand could be the next new craze!
- In-Hand Work
Winter weekday evenings can be a nightmare as there is no hacking and the school can get super boring after a few sessions on the trot. Sometimes I like to take Cee in to the indoor school and do some in hand exercises with him in his head collar. We practise him following me around and stopping when I do, and if we are feeling really brave, we sometimes take off the headcollar and do it completely free. Even just ten or fifteen minutes of this can be really rewarding for the both of you and provides precious bonding time and a break for his muscles. It’s also really mentally stimulating for your horse, and if done regularly, you can start to incorporate tricks or natural horsemanship in to the routine.
- Intense Grooming Session
When was the last time you spent a good hour grooming your horse? It can be so therapeutic and beneficial to spend a whole hour grooming your horse with no pressure that you have to be quick so you can ride. Instead of the usual routine, you could add in some extra touches like using a dusting cloth or a massage pad and painting his feet. Baby-wipe his eyes, nose and muzzle and clean under his tail. Everyone likes a pampering session sometimes and your horse is not an exception.
- Have a good root around
We have an upstairs storage room at my yard, the kind of place where you’d put out of season rugs, show stuff, spare saddles and all sorts of other paraphernalia that you don’t use on a daily basis. Sometimes I like to go up and have a good rummage around. I’ll find things that I forgot I had, or gadgets that I haven’t used for a while that will come in useful. Or I’ll pair up boots and roll bandages that were haphazardly discarded when I had less time. You might be surprised at what you find, or re-inspired. At the very least, you’ll go home feeling virtuous because you know your storage area is nice and tidy and organised.
- Walk your Dressage Test
I get that age-old feeling before a competition where I know that I should be practising hard, but I just cannot muster the energy. Procrastination at its finest. Anyway, if you suffer from this too, why not go in to the school and walk through your dressage test? It will help you to learn it and mentally visualising yourself riding it perfectly will prepare you for success. Competition practise without having to put your breeches on!
Like riding, but without so much effort from you! 20 minutes of decent lunging can be as beneficial to your horse as an hour in the saddle. Try and get him to work long and low to stretch out his back muscles and strengthen himself. You could always spice things up by adding in some poles or cavaletti. Or if you are feeling really lazy and are lucky enough to have a horse walker, some time on there will give him a leg-stretch and you a rest.
Do you have any activities that you like to do instead of riding? Share them below, I’d love to know.