Having a horsey companion is one of life’s greatest joys and being able to have fun together in the saddle makes it even better. What’s the bet that many of your favourite hours have been spent in the saddle? However, would your horse be able to echo the same sentiment?
If you think the sight of his saddle is more likely to send your horse to the back of his stable rather than chomping eagerly at the bit to hit the tracks, it may be time to take a look at his routine. By cross-referencing your riding routine with these five commandments, you’ll feel confident knowing you’ve considered your horse’s wellbeing. Whether taking to the trails or planning your next fun-filled schooling session, your horse will thank you later!
Being a herd animal, asking your horse to hack out alone goes against his natural instincts. While it’s important that he does learn to go by himself calmly and confidently, you can also help him to enjoy getting off the yard more by going with another horse whenever possible. What’s more, it’s a win-win situation – it gives you the chance to bring a friend to spend time with, while your horse gets some company, too.
If you don’t have a friend who can ride out with you, consider leading out one of your horse’s field companions on your rides from time to time. Build up to this by practising in a safe, enclosed area first before going out and make sure that you’re able to safely ride and lead at all the paces you’ll use when hacking out.
Around the clock care
It’s tempting to focus on riding when you think of ways to make your horse happier. However, this accounts for one, maybe two, hours of his day – and there are other elements of his routine that might need examining, so the remainder of the day shouldn’t be overlooked. Your horse’s stress levels will be inherently lower, therefore allowing him to enjoy your activities together more, if his equine needs are being met during the day, every day.
The quality of your horse’s ridden work will suffer if he isn’t provided with the three Fs – friends, forage and freedom. So, by ensuring that you’re providing him with the most suitable living environment, where he can trickle feed on forage around the clock, has access to companions and the ability to move around freely, you’re already going some way towards improving his enjoyment of the other activities that you do with him
For more steps to a happier, ridden horse, get your copy of August Horse&Rider out now