Preparing for the end of lock down with your horse...
Exciting times are ahead for us all (in the UK), with the recent government announcements. For many this will finally give the option to get out with their horses and begin lessons again.
So where are we,
8th March - 1-1 Coaching can commence* (get in touch for coaching sessions with me https://www.derryvm.co.uk/contact )
29th March - Arena Hire and transportation of horses for 'non essential purposes' can resume. Riding schools can reopen and group coaching can commence again*
12th April - Residential camps can resume*
17th May - Shows and competitions resume with limited numbers*
*For specific information please check out the BHS web site https://www.bhs.org.uk/advice-and-information/coronavirus-covid-19 note all this information is subject to change and may vary based your location.
I'm so excited at thought of getting back to what we all love - spending time with our horses and getting out and about, whether that be training, clinics, pleasure rides, showing or competing at any level, for me it's about enjoying the time with Alfie (my horse).
Just some thoughts on travelling,
Transport - It is likely your lorry, trailer, and towing vehicle haven't been used for a while. Why not use the next few weeks (within the guidelines of course) to book them in for a service and annual check and give them a spring clean. Ensure that you are fully up to date with the latest guidelines on maintenance and weight limits etc. Practice it may well have been a while since you have driven your lorry or towed your trailer, so why not take them for spin without the horse and check you're completely comfortable with driving them again (don't forget to practice reversing and parking!).
Loading - While you have some time on your hands why not practice loading your horse, even the best horses after a break in travelling may have some 'questions' to ask as they approach a lorry or trailer again; don't forget to only load your horse into a safe lorry or trailer, and your trailer must be hitched to your car before you load a horse on it, or you risk it tipping.
It may be worth taking your first trip out somewhere local, where the travel time is short and the location is calm so you can ensure that the whole experience is as stress free for you and your horse as possible. Travelling, in my opinion should be viewed as something that is built up and 'trained', it is physically and mentally demanding for the horse as well as for us piloting our precious cargo about. Fitter horses, in my experience, travel better and are happier to load on return, if they are not feeling physically or mentally exhausted.
What about horse and rider fitness?
We must consider fitness, during lock down I know many have been less physically active, some may have been more which is brilliant, fitter riders make better riders. I for one have been working on my personal fitness a lot over the last couple of months. Also before, you load up and head out its worth considering, has your horse been in sufficient work to perform the travel, complete the work you are aiming to do while out (that could be a hack, a lesson, a dressage test, ODE, clinic etc) then the return travel home; as an example where I stable my horse there are relatively few hills in hacking distance, but within a 30 min trailer journey we have ample access to bridleways and park and ride locations with lots of hills, so I would consider planning my park and ride route carefully to include a small amount of hill work for the first time out, in nearly 5 months and increase this each time I went out to build his and my fitness to perform this task. Continuing with the hacking example, I hack, Alfie around 2 times per week, when I track these hacks using Equilab App (a great app for keeping track of your hacking), they are generally between 3 and 5 miles long, so in order to progress to 12-mile pleasure ride route, I would need to plan to increase this work progressively. Not only for Alfie but for myself too.
Is your horse ready?
I know many have 'roughed off' their horses over the winter months, now would be a good time for routine checks, from Physios / Osteos/ Body workers, Saddle fit checks along with routine dental. One crucial thing not to forget is that your routine vaccinations are fully up to date. Check the venue you are attending as many require 6 monthly flu vaccinations and will inspect passports on arrival.
Don't neglect yourself,
As soon as is possible I will be booking to see my body worker, for a fascial focused treatment. I 100% support regular rider maintenance, under normal situations I would see Caroline, my body worker, monthly for clinical bespoke treatments. Find out more about Caroline here https://www.bodywork-therapies.co.uk/Massage-Therapies.php
It may be worth considering having your coach, attend your first outing with you or assist in planning your first adventure if this is something you're not too sure about.
Above all enjoy the time you spend with your horses embrace happy experiences and set you and your horse up for success in whatever you do.
If you are interested in arranging a coaching session, or a clinic please don't hesitate to get in touch. https://www.derryvm.co.uk/about
'Njoy your riding