You are currently viewing Enjoying the holidays

Enjoying the holidays

Riding is not the only way to have fun with your horse, and there are lots of benefits to spending time on the ground with your equine companion. Here we give you some ‘out-of-the-saddle’ ideas to help you enjoy your time together this December.

1. Scratchy spot


Horses are sociable creatures and love mutual grooming sessions. You, too, can be your horse’s mutual grooming partner, so find those spots where he loves to be scratched the most! Favourite spots tend to be on the withers, the top of the neck or around his tail. You’ll know when you’ve hit the right spot as he’ll start to give you some signs he’s enjoying it, like quivering his lip or softening his eye. Just beware – he may even try to return the favour, and ‘scratch’ you back, and his teeth can give you a pretty vigorous groom!

2. Explore together

Exploring new places with your horse in hand is an excellent opportunity to bond, help your horse get braver and allow him to take in new sights and sounds. If your horse is the nervous-type, take along a buddy horse or just go slow and explore new areas of the yard before venturing further afield.

Did you know?

Horsemanship trainer Steve Halfpenny runs a ‘100 miles a month challenge’, where he challenges you and your horse to walk 100 miles together on foot. He believes this challenge helps your horse to become more confident, focused, brave and calm. It’s worth checking out, particularly if you’d like some support getting going with your horse on the ground. [end box]

3. Pamper him

If it’s been a while since your horse had an at-home ‘spa day’, then embrace the warm weather and indulge your horse with some pamper time. Give him a bath followed by a thorough groom, and maybe even trim his mane and tail!

4. Make some treats

Get creative and make or bake some treats for your horse. For example, you could thread a piece of string through some root vegetables like carrots and turnips and hang them from the rafters in his stable, place apples in his water bucket, or hide bits of carrot in his haynet or around his paddock.

NOTE: Although it’s nice to be able to treat our horses, overfeeding them will lead to weight gain and the health dangers that go along with this. Never feed too many treats in one go, and always use treats that are high in fibre but low in sugar.

5. Swimming time

If your horse is a water baby, find a nearby dam or river and take him for a paddle (provided it is safe to do so!) Alternatively, if you are lucky enough to live near the coast, take your horse to the sea where he can benefit from the many healing benefits of seawater and splash around to his heart’s content.

Did you know?

Salt water can reduce inflammation, accelerate healing, draw out infection and increase circulation! [end box]

6. Spook busting

The more your horse is exposed to, the less spooky he’s likely to be under saddle. A great activity for the holiday can therefore be exposing your horse to as many weird and wonderful objects as you can find – umbrellas, flags, inflatable balls and tarpaulins all fit the bill! Just make sure you don’t over-face your horse. You want to allow him time to accept new sights and sounds and reward him for his bravery – you don’t want to be ‘forcing’ him to be okay with these new objects, and you certainly don’t want him to shut down to cope with the sensory overload!

7. The power of observation

Watching your horse interact in the paddock or even in the stable can be such a valuable exercise in learning about your horse, his preferences and his personality. Notice how he interacts with his friends, how he plays, and what does and doesn’t bother him! Finding the time to do this throughout the year can be a challenge, so make the most of having the chance to sit back and just watch your horse be a horse!