- Clean your tack!
All the books say you should clean your tack after each time you ride, but really? Who has time for that? I certainly don’t, so my compromise is to do it monthly.
It could be a quick wipe over or a more thorough, full strip of the saddle/bridle. You might also tie this in with going to a competition or a lesson.
- Check the fit of your tack
It’s hugely important to check the fit of your saddle regularly, since most horses will change shape quite dramatically throughout the year. If you’re not sure about whether your saddle fits, have a qualified & experienced saddle fitter to come & take a look.
Don’t forget to check your bridle & any accessories too!
While you’re checking your tack, look closely for any signs of wear & tear, which could cause sores/rubs or even mean a total tack failure!
- Take photos of your horse
Of course our phones are jam packed with comedy photos of our horses and those classic ‘between the ears’ shots, but what I mean here is taking clear photos of your horse from both sides, with him stood square on a hard surface. This is an excellent way of tracking changes in his posture and/or condition. By doing this, you can also track his weight & muscle tone.
- Disinfect your stable
Every month, try to lift all bedding & pile to the sides, and use Jeyes fluid (or similar!) with water to slosh out your stable. This works whether you have rubber mats down or not, but I’m certainly not advocating lifting mats every month (that’s a bit keen for me). Use a firm broom to scrub the stable floor with the disinfectant solution down, then rinse with plain water. Leave the stable door and/or windows open to increase ventilation. This all helps to maintain stable hygiene and limit bad smells.
- Clean out your feed bins
Get rid of all that slightly crusty/old/mouldy feed that tends to lurk at the bottom of feed bins and dustbins
- Poo pick your fields
Yes I know, we’re supposed to do this all the time, but it’s very easy to get behind & it becomes a huge task. Try to set time aside each month to keep on top of it.
Have a rummage through all of that old tack & rugs to see if there is anything you no longer need. Pop it on eBay or onto appropriate FB groups to make a little extra cash to pay for those entry fees or lessons…
- Book a riding lesson
If you don’t have regular lessons, try to get along to a local clinic, or find a good freelance instructor to come out to you. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t have many facilities, i.e. an arena, poles, etc., a good instructor should still be able to help you & your horse
- Try something new with your horse
This could be a new ridden exercise, some ground work, hacking in a new place, trying a difference discipline or trainer – the world is your oyster!
- Look after yourself
We are all guilty of focussing entirely on our horses, with often very little time for ourselves. Remember that you are a partnership & it doesn’t matter how fit/well your horse is; if you’re lame, sore, exhausted, unfit, stressed, then you simply cannot achieve your potential together. Book yourself in for physio/sports massage, check your diet, design your own fitness programme, do some pilates… Stick to it, and you’ll both feel the benefit.