It's that time of year again, the hustle and bustle of Christmas and it's the beginning of a new year. Most of us begin the year with many good intentions or new year resolutions of how we'll lose those extra pounds, join the gym and give up chocolate! If you're anything like me those intentions never last, I'm lucky if I make it to mid January. But this year I decided I would make some resolutions around my horses, my hope is that I will have more willpower because I'll be doing it for them not me. I've put together five suggestions of things I think every horse owner should consider for their four legged best friends, read through the list and maybe select three that you can commit to (any more than that may be too much and harder to stick to).
Spend more time with your horse. This is top of my list! But I've been more specific than that which means I'm more likely to stick to my plan. I've detailed which days I will spend more time with them and for how long. I've not been too ambitious either and made my goal easy to achieve so I don't get disheartened if one week I can't manage it. For example: Lunge Charlie for 20min on a Tuesday evening followed by 30 minutes schooling on Thursday and an hours hack on the weekend. I know I can fit this around my on call duties and if I get time to do more it's an added bonus!
Review your horses worming program. Over the past ten to twenty years the science and research around worming horses has changed dramatically. January is a good time to stop and plan the year ahead. Whether you're on a yard plan or you can do your own thing I would encourage you to double check you're protecting your horse in the best way possible. Don't forget Ridings Equine Vets give free worming advice to all our clients and our advice is tailored to your individual circumstances. We're also happy to help with a yard program too so don't hesitate to get in touch.
Think about your core. Riders with good core strength offer a much kinder ride to their horses as they are more balanced and can carry themselves better in the saddle. You don't need to join a gym either! My lower back has been bothering me lately so I've started doing a mini morning routine at home and I'm amazed with the results! I practice planking for as long as possible and try to increase the time by 10 seconds daily, do a couple of minutes of sit ups and a few minutes bridging. There are loads of great videos on YouTube to help you get started, or if you can afford it why not get a personal trainer or join an exercise class.
Get your saddle checked. Horses change shape constantly and it is advisable to have your saddle checked every six months by a qualified saddle fitter. I would recommend mid winter (I.e now!) and mid summer; often horses are very lean coming out of winter and fat at the end of summer so try to check them in between to get a better average.
Diet time! Not for you, for your horse and I don't mean restricting calories but rather thinking about what you feed. It's surprising how often we just feed things without actually reviewing what you give and why. It's beyond the scope of this discussion but if you do one thing I would urge you to check the starch and sugar levels of the concentrate feed you are feeding. They should be very low (less than 10% or less that 5% if your horse is prone to laminitis, ulcers, cushings disease or tying up). Don't trust the feed companies- do your homework and read the label. Throw out your high starch/ sugar feeds and replace them with feeds high in fibre.
Hopefully this list will give you some inspiration and you have your own ideas unique to you! Please share them with me either in the comments below or on the Ridings Equine Vets Facebook Page, I always love to hear what you're getting up to! Don't forget you can contact us for advice on any of the above suggestions by calling 07747771182 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year – lets make it the best horsey one yet!