Spring is fast approaching and this means that horse lovers can take their horses for a ride out in the sunshine once again. You need to get your horse prepared for spring by getting them into shape. Get them out of the barn and allow them to run free and tire themselves out. During the winter months not all horse owners have an arena and the opportunity to ride and the harsh winter conditions may have been challenging to ride or exercise your horse.
What some horse owners often find is that their horse has a lot more spirit after not being ridden for a sometime. This becomes evident when leading the horse out of the barn and saddling up for that first spring ride. Your horse’s natural instincts to run free will be unleashed and he could be quite frisky.
What everyone should do is to apply the basics once more. Let your horse relax as you place the halter on him and make him walk beside you as you walk into the woods. You will get better results by first walking your horse rather than saddling him up for a ride. Walking your horse has benefits for both you and your horse. You horse gets to go out in the fresh spring air and you get to exercise. For the first week, go over your basic ground skills which include moving the shoulders, lowering the head of your horse, backing effectively as quietly as possible. If your horse has not been ridden at all throughout winter, it may be better if you take him out for a few walks and make him behave instead of riding your horse immediately come spring.
By going through the basic ground work you will have a better understanding that your horse is prepared and ready to ride again. You may ask “why should you go through the basics without putting on the saddle first?” This is because if your horse has been lying around in winter it is best to re-establish good habits and manners. Naturally, both of you can decide what you want to happen. You are the best judge of what your horse is capable of and you know the conditions that your horse has experienced during the winter months. There are horses that have not been ridden all winter and may still do well when ridden on the first day of spring. On the other hand, there are also others that act agitated when taken out for that first couple of rides.
What’s great about starting from scratch is that you can immediately see the progress and move on to the next step – that is, if you are sure that your horse doesn’t have issues or has not developed any for that matter. Restarting your horse successfully for spring can be achieved in just hours; for some, it could be a matter of days or even weeks. However if you take things too fast and just throw that saddle on and start riding your horse Spring may greet you with casualties.
It is much better if you take things slowly by starting with the basics and slow down the pace when something goes wrong. Once your horse has successfully accepted the bridle and saddle and has been exposed to the outdoors again without showing any signs of stress or agitation you are now ready for your first Spring ride. Another good tip is to take your first spring ride in an enclosed area just to be on the safe side.
On your first Spring ride start off by simply walking your horse and testing the effectiveness of your cues. For instance, does your horse stop immediately on your cue? Does he turn left or right effortlessly? How is he doing when he backs up? If your horse may have forgotten some of those things, you may need to fix them before going out of your arena. By taking the time to assess your horse’s behaviour before taking that welcoming Spring ride you may avoid the possibility of injuries. Unfortunately for some people are too hasty to take that first Spring ride without reviewing the basics and as a result they end up getting hurt.
Getting your horse out of the winter blues and letting him spring into action does not have to be a tedious process. Think of safety when you want to greet the spring season and review those basic ground skills before taking your horse out for a ride. When you think about it, there is such a thing as spring training. Maybe your horse could use some of that too!
Whilst reviewing ground skills is essential before taking your horse for that first ride in Spring. It is also important to have the horse worming program updated by your veterinarian. Before setting out for Spring make sure your horse is mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically prepared!