It’s that time of the year again… a single breeze can send your thousand-pound animal 10 feet into the air – spooky season doesn’t JUST mean Halloween after all. In this post, I’ll be talking about what to do when your horse is fresh.
At my old barn in the Appalachian mountains, the silo by the arena had pigeons living it… who would tend to scratch the metal roof or flap their wings. Anyway, I work at a summer camp every year, so Theo had been left out in his field for about 3 weeks untouched.
The sun was going down as I ran to meet Theo for the first time in a while. He was feeling quite chipper, so I decided to take him down to the arena. Once we arrived, no sooner than me turning around to lock the gate, did a pigeon start sliding down the metal roof, making an ear-piercing noise… resulting in Theo launching himself – and me, who was on the other end of the rope – into the air. A bucking frenzy occurred as soon as his hooves hit the ground.
Let’s just say my broken nail was the least of my concerns; the rope burns on my hand, however… painful haha.
Despite horses being big, muscly creatures, I’m pretty sure a butterfly could stand its ground against them. And since we have to deal with these delicate creatures on the daily… here’s what to do when your horse is fresh!
On the ground:
It’s important to remember safety first. If you feel like a situation is far beyond your experience, don’t be afraid to speak up! If you’re worried about people judging you or feeling like an imposter, just remember that an accident can push back your confidence and we definitely don’t want that. Hey, every equestrian feels nervous at one point or another!
Use a lunge line instead of a lead rope when you know you’re going to be dealing with a spooky horse on a windy day. That way, you can keep a safe distance – if necessary – while still keeping hold. Make sure you’re also wearing the correct footwear (getting clipped on the ankle by a metal shoe isn’t ideal).
When getting your horse out of his field, greet them and walk them confidently back to the gate like everything is normal – even if you’re flying a kite behind you.
What to do when your horse is fresh? Always be on alert, keeping an eye out for things that might spook them, while staying calm and collected. It’s true that horses pick up on our emotions, so don’t give your horse something to worry about!
Try not to ponder on the situation at hand; instead, take deep breaths and hum a song or tell a story to your horse – keeping you both relaxed.
In the saddle
Once again: safety first. If you know your horse is terribly spooky/reactive on crisp days, stick to the groundwork – it doesn’t make you a bad rider, just a responsible one.
If you have to get on, make sure that you’re wearing a helmet and body armor.
Start with lunging. Do lots of trot/canter transitions and change in directions to get your horse to focus on you. When you finally have a relatively sane horse again, go ahead and hop on. Stick to circles for warm-up, still focusing on transitions.
While your horse might be listening to you, it would be wise to skip the grids for today. You run the risk of plowing through the jumps instead of, well… jumping them. Alternately, you can work on a curved grid which requires your horse to actually use its brain haha.
Remember to never push your sessions on a day like this otherwise you’ll both end up frustrated, leaving the arena on a negative note. If your horse gives you a fantastic canter transition, that’d be a good place to call it a day.
Your horse should be worn out now and relaxed; however, on the contrary, they could be extra excited to get back to their friends.
For the last time: safety first. If someone else is also putting their horse away, it might be best for you to go first so you’re not wrestling your horse while they’re trying to catch up with their friends.
Turn your horse towards the gate so they don’t take off. Then make sure that they’re standing nice for you while you take off their halter. Give them a pat, then make a swift exit before they take off.
Call it a day
Don’t ponder on today’s events, even if they went ideal. Instead, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done of staying cool and collected.
Horse ownership can be tricky but I promise it’s worth it (probably doesn’t seem like it after temperature drops haha). And that concludes our what to do when your horse is fresh!
Tell me, what are some activities that you do on a crisp, autumn day when you’re guaranteed some spooks?
All the best,
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