If you find yourself anxiously twiddling your thumbs on a stormy day, itching to be with your horse, fear not - here are 5 things you can do to keep rainy days productive at the barn.
After a cold, long winter, most horses look like fuzzy, woolly mammoths. Usually within the first hint of warmer weather, the hair starts flying. Rainy days are the perfect time to break out the curry and give your horse a massage, while getting rid of all that unwanted winter hair. Just be sure you are wearing clothes that can easily be thrown in the wash. By the end of the grooming session, it's likely that you'll be covered in more horse hair that your trusty steed!
Grooming your horse has several other benefits. It gives you the opportunity to check for any lumps, bumps, bruises or injuries, as well as providing extra bonding time between horse and rider.
While you're at it, you might as well break out the clippers and trim up your horse's bridle path. No more fighting the mohawk when bridling your horse!
Winter can be hard on tack. One way to make your leather bridles and saddles last longer is to keep them clean. We keep our show equipment stored in the horse trailer away from dust and humidity.
Our work tack, on the other hand, is stored in our tack room of the barn, which collects dirt, dust and everything else you would find in a typical horse barn. Periodically cleaning work tack with leather cleaner (or a good bar of saddle soap) helps keep bridles & reins supple and in good working condition.
Getting ready to hit the show circuit? Better make sure you're prepared! Spring is a great time to check your show supplies and equipment inventory. Are you fully stocked with grooming supplies and shampoos? Have you replaced those reins your horse stepped on and broke last fall? What about that lightweight sheet that your gelding kindly ripped to shreds? Time to make a list!
Several horse supply companies, such as Big Dee's Supply, have spring blowout sales and offer pretty nice deals on horse supplies and tack. Have your list of supplies ready and keep a close eye on tack stores for special sales. We've also had good luck with equine expo's and trade fairs, such as Equine Affaire, and recently came home restocked with buckets, leadropes and horse washing supplies.
Most organizations begin posting showbills for horse shows early in the year at tack shops, on club websites and via Facebook. Start a calendar specifically for horse shows and trail rides you plan to attend. We put all of our horse show dates in a shared Google calendar so it's easily accessible, and it can be synced to our smartphones.
If you have a covered arena, or a little work space in your barn, rainy days can be the perfect time to work on ground work and showmanship. I have grown to realize the more I work with horses, that if you don't have a horse's respect on the ground, you won't have their respect in the saddle.
Showmanship drills and groundwork can be done in smaller spaces and can help you become more in tune with your horse. When working on showmanship with my horse, I like to do several different components, including walking and trotting serpentines and practicing pivots. This helps keep her sharp for the show ring.
How do you spend your rainy days at the barn?