By Samantha King
With winter on our doorstep and horse show season drawing to a close we all look for ideas to keep our riding skills up to date, our horses well trained and combat the boredom of riding in an indoor arena for the next 6 to 7 months.
Here are further ideas to consider:
SCHOOL OFF-SITE: If you are with a large stable, your coach or barn manager may arrange for your riding group to travel to a different location to school. This helps to keep the minds of the rider and horse keen and adds some variety to the indoor riding experience. If you are at a smaller stable get together with another smaller barn to host a gymkhana or games day/evening at each other’s stables. This brings some fun to the indoor riding for both the horses and riders. Bring your own horses or share with the host stable, as this will give you the opportunity to ride different horses.
Winter is a great time to work on new skills and what better way to learn new skills than to ride new horses.
RIDE EACH OTHER'S HORSES: Winter is a great time to work on new skills and what better way to learn new skills than to ride new horses. Whether it is a school horse or a privately owned horse look for opportunities to share riding, swap horses in a lesson, or offer to exercise someone’s horse when they are on holiday or off sick. Check with owners, managers and coaches to ensure you are paired with the right horse for your skill level.
TRY A NEW DISCIPLINE: Are you a hunter or a dressage rider that has never ridden Western? Perhaps look up someone near you that teaches western and ask for a lesson on their horses. Go with a friend so that you can have fun together. Offer that western coach a chance for their riders to have a lesson on your horses. This offers great insight into what you have in common within disciplines and an appreciation of what different skills are needed. Try polo or driving as well!
CONSIDER BOOKING A RIDING HOLIDAY...PICK YOUR DESTINATION AND ENJOY!
CONSIDER BOOKING A RIDING HOLIDAY: This can be a little on the pricy side, but what better way to see a country than by horse back? Riding holidays are available all over the world, for all riding levels, so pick your destination, and enjoy!
FIND NEW FILL FOR JUMPS: How many times do you go to your first show of the season and your horse spooks at the jump they jumped last year, but this time the flowers are yellow instead of red? Silly ponies! I used to ask people to donate their Christmas trees (real or artificial, no lights please) and other decorations to use a jump fill or to decorate standards or the arena. The horses get used to new and unusual sights and the riders learn how to ride through the questionable moments.
GO TO OR HOST A CLINIC: We know your coach is great, but part of learning is to observe and/or ride with another coach. Fresh eyes, new terminology and exercises will give you new things to work on with your riding and your horse. If you can’t afford to take your horse to a clinic consider attending as an auditor/spectator. Discuss what you have learned with your coach to see what you can incorporate into your development plan.
Those are just a few ideas so chat with your friends, coach and barn manager to see what you can do to make your indoor riding experience fun, fresh, safe and one of continued learning.
Happy and safe winter riding, everyone!
WHO IS SAMANTHA KING?
At the height of her business, she had many horses and students competing in eventing and hunter/jumper on the schooling, Trillium and A Circuits. Aside from her own stables in Oakville and then Georgetown, Samantha has taught riding at Sunnybrook Stables (Toronto), The Riding Academy at the Horse Palace (Toronto), Southlands (in Vancouver), and Stonewood Riding Academy (Pickering). She continues to be involved with horses as the Mum of an 11-year-old rider who competes on the Trillium Circuit, judging a few schooling shows and loves to teach whenever she can!