There are times in all of our equestrian lives when we are faced with the Saddle Time Blues – that feeling you get when you want nothing more than to throw your leg over your favorite horse and go for a ride, but for whatever reason, you just can’t do it.
You Can Beat Those Saddle Time Blues
Whether it’s an injury that’s got you laid up, or, as many of us are experiencing right now, bad weather that makes riding impossible, there are still ways to stay connected to your “horse life” without being in the saddle.
For many of us, the entire routine of going out to the barn, grooming, tacking and going for a ride becomes almost a fixture in our lives. We get used to a schedule and we have a plan that includes saddle time. When that schedule or those plans are impacted, it can be emotionally painful.
Horses are therapy for a lot of us; our personal time and relaxation often centers around our four-legged friends. So, what is a horse person to do when they can’t get into the saddle? Here are five tips for beating the saddle time blues.
Give Your Horse a Spa Day
One of the benefits of taking saddle time out of the equation at the barn is that you can actually take the time to focus on things that are normally done somewhat quickly. We all groom our horses regularly, but when we’re riding every day (or at least four or five times a week), deep groomin can fall by the wayside. Usually it’s a hoof pick, curry comb, dandy brush and then you’re off, but when you can’t ride, you suddenly have an opportunity to give your favorite equine friend a “spa day”.
Start at the hooves and work your way up. Tackle that overgrown bridle path, or that un-pulled mane, or take the time to do a really good deep conditioning treatment on your horse’s tail, braid it and then put it in a tail bag. Get your favorite curry comb, or rubber massage comb (there’s a great one that I use called the “Big Touch Rubber Curry Comb” that just makes my mare’s lips quiver) and really spend some extra time scratching those withers or under that belly.
Take this opportunity to really focus on your horse’s comfort and happiness, and you’ll likely find that you get as much out of it as he/she does!
Catch Up on Cleaning
When we get busy and are riding a lot, the tack room (or tack trunk) is often the first thing that takes a hit. We start to get a little lax with keeping things organized, and before long it’s like we’re living out of a suitcase in a hotel room – dirty clothes mixed with the clean ones. This is the perfect opportunity to get a jump on that spring cleaning, and take out the trash, so to speak. Go through all of your tack and figure out what can stay and what can go, organize all of those half empty bottles of product and see what can be thrown away, etc. If you have duplicates of things, maybe it’s time to donate some stuff to your favorite riding club or therapy group. When you can’t be in the saddle, it can feel productive and satisfying to clean your space.
When’s the last time you’ve given your saddle and bridle a good deep cleaning or oiling? Yeah, I don’t know either! It was sometime last year…I think. When you can’t be “in the saddle”, it’s the perfect time to clean your saddle. Pull out your saddle rack and sit in the barn aisle, grab your cleaning supplies and enjoy the scent of the barn and the sounds of the horses. What horse person doesn’t like the smell of clean leather? You’ll be happy that you took the time to clean your tack when you’re finally able to get back into the saddle, and time becomes a little more restrictive.
Go on a Walkabout
Okay, so horses aren’t dogs, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get a lot out of a nice hand walk with our equine friends. When you’re unable to ride, or when the arenas are too muddy to turn out, taking your horse on a nice, long walk can be extremely rewarding…and its great cardio too!
So, grab a pair of gloves, a good halter and lead rope, and take a nice easy stroll around the property, or maybe down the road (if it’s safe), and enjoy some time with your horse. You don’t have to be in the saddle to get exercise, connect and have fun.
Read a Book, Listen to Music, Relax
Most of us carve out time in our daily or weekly schedules for our horses. When we can’t ride we’re left with this chunk of time that we don’t really know what to do with. Sure, we can fill it with chores or other things, but one of the best parts about being a horse owner is the emotional therapy that it can provide. So, even if you can’t ride, there’s no reason that you can’t go out to the barn and bring your favorite book or your IPOD with a list of your favorite music and just…relax. Sometimes just being around the sights, smells and sounds of a place that brings you peace is enough to satisfy the mind.
In the end, if you can’t get into the saddle, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy time with your horse. There are hundreds of little ways that a visit to the barn can lift the spirits, so go out and enjoy your four-legged friend whether it’s raining or you’re laid up from an injury. Beat the Saddle Time Blues and live in the moment!