The snow is melting, the sun is starting to peek through what feels like months of clouds, and summer is—dare I say it—on its way. For many equestrians, summer is hands down the best time of year. Long days and sunshine means more time at the barn, and the warmer weather means we can fiiiinnnaally put the blankets and clippers away.
To make the absolute best of summer, here are five ways to enjoy your riding time even more than usual.
- Take Your Horse Swimming
Swimming with your horses is kind of a bucket-list item, if you ask me. So if you’ve got access to a dam, lake, or other area where you can take your horse for a splash around, pick a hot day and go for it. Some horses might be more hesitant than others, but once they’re in there they normally enjoy a proper swim. But tailor the day to your horse, and you’ll both have a ball.
Even if you only walk around and don’t swim, you’ll both enjoy doing something different and cooling down together on a scorching day. Grab a friend and take pics too, if you can.
One crucial thing to remember though. Ditch the saddle and ride in there bareback – or at the very least, in a synthetic saddle. A swim might be bucket-list, but it’s not a ruining-your-fancy-saddle kind of bucket-list. Whatever you do, don’t ditch the helmet though.
- Plan an All-Day Trail
Ever wanted to pretend you were in a horsey movie? Summer is a great opportunity to pick a weekend and plan an all-day ride. You can even go with a small group of friends and plan a picnic along the route.
Make sure your horse is fit enough to handle the work. But if you keep a lot of the trail to a walk, with some faster stints to keep everyone interested, you should be perfectly fine. Your horse will grow in confidence and enjoy doing something new, you’ll enjoy some bonding time with horse and human friends, and what better way to relax and escape your everyday troubles than with a whole day out in the fresh air with your horse?
If it’s a hot day, remember to plan to stop somewhere so that your horse can have a drink and catch his breath for a bit.
- Have a Spa Day
Umm, not you – your horse. There’s nothing like a bit of pampering to get you excited and feeling confident. Why not treat your horse to a day of thorough bathing, grooming, trimming, and oiling?
It’ll get rid of any stubborn winter fuzzies and reveal that lovely, shiny summer coat. Paired with a freshly trimmed tail and neat mane, you’ll be ready to show your horse off to the whole world. Plus it’ll make prep for any show days, photo shoots, or clinics so much easier.
- Go to Horsey Bootcamp
You’re not alone if your progress has been slowed with the pandemic, lockdowns, and then a long and difficult winter. Summer might be the perfect time to get your mojo back and plan some competitions or lessons. Improvement and goals are key to keeping your motivation up, and to growing your riding or horsemanship skills.
You could look at trailering to a different location for a week, organizing a clinic at your barn with a trainer you admire, learning a new discipline, or simply booking a series of lessons with your regular trainer or barn. Sometimes this short, sharp “bootcamp” style of learning can trigger serious improvement.
- Soak Up the Sun
Are you able to get away from home or work once a week to see your horse over lunch time for a ride or a longe? Or even just a carrot-feeding session? Going up to the barn when it’s warm and sunny can make your whole day feel brighter.
If not, try to extend your weekend rides by a little bit so that you make the most of all that sun. I like to bring along a flask of coffee and enjoy it under a tree near the paddock after I’m done riding.
Of course, this requires the luxury of time. But if you have that luxury on some days, there’s no better way to appreciate summer than by simply spending some time in the sunshine surrounded by horses. Even an extra five minutes can make all the difference to your mood!
From warm evening rides to bright mornings with not a blanket in sight, summer is the best time of the year to really appreciate everything that equestrian life offers us.
With the warmer weather heading our way, how are you planning on making the most of this summer with your horse? Let us know in the comments.