Whether you are traveling, sick, injured, or quarantined due to a global pandemic, being separated from horses can be a challenge. If you are starting to feel the barn sick blues, have no fear! From chores you’ve been putting off to settling in to watch a family friendly horse movie, there are things you can do to stay involved and help you not miss a beat when you and the barn are reunited.
1. Be productive! Clean your tack and boots and do your horse laundry.
We can all get a little lazy when it comes to routinely cleaning our tack and doing our horse laundry. But if you can’t ride or maybe even get to the barn, there’s no better time to do some spring cleaning for your equestrian gear!
- Research your tack! Certain cleaners, particularly glycerin based soaps, can actually have a detrimental effect on leathers like high quality calfskin. Most saddle and tack companies will have leather care directions on their websites if you are unsure.
- Vacuum your saddle pads and other horse laundry before you throw it in the washer. That way, even if you have a designated barn washer and dryer, you can save your machines from unnecessary dirt and hair.
2. Watch something horse related.
From documentaries to kid friendly stories, there is likely at least one horse-centric movie or tv show out there for everyone. If you are missing the barn, sometimes settling down to watch a heartfelt or informative story can make us feel a little more connected to the horse world.
- For the Blue Ribbon Binge Watcher – Heartland and Wildfire
- Fun for the Whole Family – The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit
- Feel Good Documentary – Harry and Snowman
- For the Thrill Seeker – Hidalgo
- Natural Horsemanship Double Feature – The Horse Whisperer and Buck
3. Get exploring! Scout new trails on foot.
Now would be a great time to get out of the house and scout trails you and your horses can explore later. Find a new horse friendly trail and go for a walk, keeping an eye on the footing and making sure it’s maintained enough to not get you into any trouble in the future. If you are looking to get your horse back in shape after a break, think about looking into a place that has hills suitable for walking and trotting to help you build those hindquarters up!
- Try TrailLink when you’re researching new spots. You can specifically search for horse-friendly trails by state. They also include the footing in the descriptions for each park on the map!
- Scout for trailer parking and access and imagine it on a busy day. Nothing worse than getting yourself trailered up and not being able to park safely with room to unload.
4. Stay Connected! Reach out to a barn friend.
While the non-equestrians in your life may respect your passion, there’s really no substitute for the friends we make through horses. If—for whatever reason—you’re not able to connect with friends in person, try reaching out and scratching that itch even if you can’t saddle up together.
Similarly, if you can’t see your horses—like when you are traveling—work something out with someone who can care for them directly and try to set up some kind of check in schedule. Just make sure you keep your crazy horse mom or dad tendencies in check. Chances are they are busy and could be fielding requests from multiple boarders.
- Put together a group text and find and share some great horse memes.
- Put together a video call. Free software that allows you to conference with up to 10 people include both Skype and Google Hangout.
- Netflix Party allows you to watch shows and movies on Netflix as a group and includes a chat section so you and your friends can comment on whether or not that horse really would have had enough impulsion to clear that fence.
5. Keep fit! Work on your equestrian fitness.
Horseback riding is such a unique sport that it can be hard to keep your body in shape if you can’t get on a horse. However, once you are able to get back in the saddle you aren’t going to want to miss a beat. Keeping up with your fitness and researching targeted equestrian workouts can help you to maintain your equestrian muscles and make returning to riding a lot more enjoyable!
- Hip flexibility and strength: If you are sick or injured, chances are you will be sitting a lot which isn’t great for anyone’s body, but can especially cause our hips to become inflexible. Search for workouts that target hip flexibility and strength.
- Core, core, and more core!: Try and find a core-centric workout to keep your main riding muscles strong and saddle ready!
- Simply stand on a stair to stretch out your back body and keep those heels down.
- Try: Yoga For Equestrians by Yoga with Adriene or Saddle Strong, a 6 week online fitness program.
Whatever the reason keeping you from riding or the barn, that time away can be difficult. You can choose to take that time and make lemonade out of lemons. What kinds of activities do you do that keep you connected with horses and friends? Let us know in the comments below!