6 Beneficial Things You Can Do With Your Horse Out Of The Saddle
By Tahlia Carter
After having both of my horses out of work due to paddock injuries I had to find things to do with them besides riding. While competitions are on hold now is a great time to give these a go. Here are a couple of things I use to stimulate my horse’s brains without physically being in the saddle!
1. Take them for a walk
No really… Just take them for a walk. Walking beside your horse is extremely beneficial for both you and your horse. Horses are fight or flight creatures, a great way to help them gain confidence outside their paddock is to simply take them for a walk. Whether it be on a trail, to the local park, along the beach, around the property – wherever! Putting these miles on your horse and exposing them to new things is a great way to build their confidence with the comfort of you by their side.
2. Bring them out of the paddock and groom them
How often do you actually just bring your horse out of the paddock to be groomed? Probably not as often as you should! Yes, we groom our horses before we ride them – but rarely just for the sake of it. Grooming your horse and treating them allows them to relax and understand that being pulled from the paddock isn’t just for work, but also for some extra TLC. It is also a great way to bond with your horse!
3. Sit in the paddock with them
Now this might sound strange, sitting in your horse’s paddock? Trust me this is a good one! Horses have what I like to call a “mirror effect”. Horses mirror their owners’ emotions and behaviour! By simply sitting in their space and minding your own business this allows your horse to build a larger trust in you. This helps build relationships out of the saddle, and similar to tip number 2 -it is another great bonding tool.
4. Carrot stretches
This one is quite obvious but still super beneficial. Carrot stretching is a great way to relieve tension in the muscles and help maintain suppleness after a workout. Not to mention when doesn’t your horse like carrots? Treats AND stretches? Winning! Remember to never stretch your horse when they’re cold! Make sure their muscles are nice and warm beforehand.
Again, another obviously beneficial thing to do with your horse but one that probably isn’t done enough. I don’t just mean waving a flag in front of their face or laying a tarp on their backs, I mean walk them over tarps, take them through water, but most importantly desensitize them against YOU. Get them really familiar with your energy. Be loud, jump around (within safe distance of course) but truly allow your horse to accept all different types of energy.
6. Ground work
I think ground work is a little underrated. It is one of the best ways to work alongside your horse and really build a partnership. Not to mention is also a fantastic way to maintain condition and strength. A lot of exercises I really enjoy doing on the ground include teaching your horse to move off your energy and get out of your space. Making them side pass, rein back and turning in are some of my favourites. Having mutual respect on the ground is great and transfers when you’re in the saddle as well.
I hope you all enjoyed some of these beneficial ways to work with your horse out of the saddle. Stay happy and healthy!