Staying Productive During The Winter Months
In much of the country, consistent winter riding is not a possibility unless you have an indoor riding arena or are a very hearty sort.
For many of us who are used to spending time outdoors on a daily basis with our horses, this season can feel quite un-productive…but does not need to be.
Here are a few suggestions to staying productive during the winter months.
This is a great time to thoroughly clean all equipment, feeding the clean leather with a coat of conditioner or oil to prevent cracking and/or mold that is very difficult to eradicate. If you have synthetic equipment, it too benefits from a thorough cleaning. As you clean, check for any stitching breakdown, cracks, or metal fatique. Billets & girths need a careful inspection of all buckles, elastic, stitching for signs of wear. Most saddle repair shops have quicker turn around in the winter which will save you downtime during the peak riding seasons. Don’t forget to clean & condition your gloves & chaps too!!
Take your saddle pads home for a complete vacuuming before throwing into the wash. Wash- in conditioners for cotton & wool pads are available through most tack catalogues & shops. Saddle pads that have been neglected during the winter leaving hair, dirt & sweat to clog the fibers, break down the materials, shortening the life of the pad. A stiff, dirty pad will also negatively affect saddle fit. Give all pads the once over for worn/stressed spots, stitching breakdown or binding fatique.
Take a few minutes when you visit your horse to groom with a “Grooma” mitt or rubber curry to stimulate the skin which often suffers in the winter months under blankets or a heavy coat. Also makes for quality bonding time. Mine love to be vacummed daily during this time.
Even if you can’t ride consistently, you can still keep your horse supple & mentally engaged by using some of the TTEAM, Connect Riding, or “Horse Yoga” exercises for 10-15 minutes a few times a week. My horses’ love the “carrot stretchs” that many of these methods employ. This can go along way to enhance the bond you have with your equine friends as well as keeping them (& yourself) mentally & pyhsically stimulated during the down times.
For yourself, explore some of the many yoga or Pilates DVD’s available for riders so you stay in shape through the winter months as well.
Also see my “sister” site:www:healingessences.com for nutritional tips that will keep you slim & healthy through to Spring.