I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest things that impacts the quantity of time I can spend with my horses is weather! This year across many parts of the country we have had lots of “news-making weather” reports. On the West Coast there are still reports daily of horrible raging wildfires devastating large areas across several western states. And then you have the record breaking cold and snowfall in the Northeast. All across the country record weather of one form or another was being reported (and still is!). Here in Texas we had record rainfall for most of the first part of the year, with massive flooding going in in large portions of the state. Nothing says “stay inside with a warm cup of cocoa” than nasty water-logged black gumbo mud like what we’ve got here 🙂 So needless to say, my horses have had quite a siesta in their training/workouts this year!
However bad the weather gets though, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to horse training. If there’s one thing that I’ve figured out with working with horses, it’s “quality time” not “quantity of time” that matters most to your horse and developing a strong relationship of mutual trust and respect. Sometimes we are actually doing TOO much with them and they start to resent their time with us. We have a limited amount of time and we want to get in as much “training” as we can in the short time we have. Our horses start to run the other way when they see us coming. I know, I’m guilty of it and have experienced it on more than one occasion 🙂 It’s important to also make sure we are spending time just hanging out enough to balance out the time we spend with training and competition.
I’ve had numerous friends/clients tell me that they were forced to lay off training for a period of time and they thought they would lose ground with their horse. Turns out, it was the best thing that could have happened for their relationship with their horse. They would spend their days just hanging out with the horse, doing pretty much nothing. When they were able to go back to training, their horses were more responsive than before and they were actually offering more on their own. All because they were shifted focus to quality time.
So when bad weather or injuries prevent us or our horses from doing the kind of activities we “think” they/we should be doing, step back for a bit and think of some ways that you can convert that time into quality time.
- Bring along a favorite book, sit down with your horse in the stall or quiet place and read
- Make it a spa day for your horse – groom them, give them a good massage, do some stretches
- If you’re the artsy type, bring out your drawing pad and paints/pencils to the barn and draw your horse
- If your horse is stall-bound because of an injury or weather, gently push against their side to cause them to shift their weight from one side to the other to help promote lymphatic flow through the limbs – helps with stocking up
Use your imagination! The point is change things up for your horse so that when they see you, they never quite know what to expect from you and that your time together is more often enjoyable rather than always just work for them. And turn a negative (bad weather) into a positive (quality time). Remember, it’s a relationship, not a dictatorship 🙂
The information in this article is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any condition or illness. Nor is it meant replace proper veterinary care. It is meant for educational purposes only. Always consult your chosen veterinary professional before starting your horse or other animal on any therapy.
Lisa Carter is a Certified Equine Massage Therapist (CEMT), with multiple certifications from several different equine bodywork schools. She incorporates her knowledge and experience with Parelli Natural Horsemanship, equine bodywork, using essential oils for animals and as a veterinary technician to provide her clients with the resources they need to make informed decisions for their horses. She encourages and facilitates network building between equine health care professionals, working together to find the best combination of therapies to meet the needs of the “whole horse”.
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