After what feels like an eternity, it’s almost time for a horsey summer of sun, sea and so much more. Get planning now so you don’t waste a moment
For most people, summer means longer days, time to tan and holidays. For horse owners it means the eagerly anticipated opportunity to spend more time riding, competing and, ultimately, doing more of what you love – enjoying your horse.
While the prospect of extra hours in the saddle sounds like bliss, in reality, and especially if you’ve become somewhat bored with your routine, it can be hard to muster up the enthusiasm to really maximise those daylight hours.
A change is as good as a rest, so the best advice you can follow is to make a plan of everything you’d love to do with your horse. Luckily, we’ve got the ultimate list on hand to help you make sure you really do have your best horsey summer yet.
1. Show off
Even if your goal isn’t to qualify for Horse of the Year Show or tackle the famous Hickstead Derby Bank, why not get out and about and enjoy the competition atmosphere with your horse? If the call of competing doesn’t cut it for you, many larger shows play host to a village jam-packed with tradestands. Leave your horse at home, undertake some serious shopping and sample the various culinary delights on offer.
2. Try something new
If you’re bored of your current routine, you can bet your horse is, too. Take advantage of the longer days and warmer temperatures to shake it up. It doesn’t have to be a new riding discipline, either. Whether you scour some horsey books for new exercises, revamp your routine with an early-morning ride, or even try your hand at some groundwork, you’ll both be glad of the change.
3. Plan a pub ride
Nothing says summer better than a refreshing pit stop in a pub garden with your friends, so why not invite your horse along, too? Many landlords are happy to allow horses to be tied up outside, so there’s no need to exclude your four-legged friends from your social gatherings – just remember, you still need to be in control of your steed by the end of it, so stick to shandy.
4. Book a photo shoot
Create some lasting memories with your horse by having your bond captured on film. Whether you use your own camera and rope in some horsey friends, or call in a professional, there’s nothing better than a photo as a keepsake of your relationship. Check out p156 for some top tips to get you started.
5. Perfect your show prep
Whether you compete regularly or you’re just starting out, summer provides the perfect opportunity to rehearse your pre-show beautifying routine. Bonus points if you set aside some time to do this before the morning of the show.
6. Indulge in a horsey spa day
There’s no better way to wash away the winter blues than with a full body freshen-up. Raid your local tack shop for supplies and spoil your horse with a top-to-tail pampering session in the sunshine to get him gleaming.
7. Go to the beach
Why not make this the summer you finally tick off a beach ride? Nothing beats a gallop along the seafront as you blow away the cobwebs and take a splash in the sea – just make sure you’ve checked whether horses are permitted, tide times and any restrictions, before you set off.
8. Off the beaten track
Are your usual hacking routes feeling a bit tired? If you know the local area like the back of your hand, it might be time to venture further afield. Recruit a few friends, box up or set off from your yard to rejuvenate your routine and blaze some new trails.
9. Set a goal
It may sound boring, but the summer season gives you three months to work towards something. That’s three whole months of warmer temperatures and extended daylight hours, so if you’re not going to perfect your dressage movements now, ready to step up to the next level over winter, when will you? Flick back to p58 and we’ve got the perfect guide to get you geared up for success.
10. Too cool for camp?
The fun of camp isn’t exclusively reserved for Pony Club-aged children, so take a look at your options now before they fill up. Many riding clubs run residential camps allowing you to take a long weekend away with your horse. It’s a great opportunity to reinvigorate your riding, and you’ll make some new horsey friends along the way, too.
11. Horsey holiday
If you find the thought of a fortnight away from your horse less than relaxing and count down the minutes until you’re reunited, why not rope him into the fun of a summer holiday? Whether you’re dreaming of whiling away the time in the New Forest or exploring the more challenging terrain of the Pennines, there are loads of places in the UK that you can visit, so check out those horse-friendly B&Bs and book in before they’re booked up. If you want to make it more of an educational holiday for you both, many training centres are able to offer holidays, too.