The Best Season is Ahead!

But first, Hair. Lots of hair. 

It's that time of year, and it is everyone's favorite- winter woolies season. Also known as shedding season, "I have horse hair all over me" season and "there is no sticky roller big enough" season. And that means it is spring! I think we can all agree that as much as we say we hate it, it makes us a little excited inside. After the long, wet winter we have had here in Northern California, the display of winter coats in clumps on the ground and the satisfaction of pulling handfuls of loose hair off of our horses makes our big hearts pitter patter a little faster. Naturally the tenacity of a horse person is worn away after months of slogging through mud, muck and knee deep water. Feeding, daily checks, fixing fences and water lines are exhausting, and retrieving your horse to ride seems like something that will just have to wait another day.

How do we bounce back into summer showing after several months with little or no under saddle work? 
First, we must remember that both rider and horse need conditioning and a chance to come back into work at a comfortable pace. Don't jump right in and ride two hours a day six days a week- start a progressive program that works for your horse. Don't underestimate the power of lungeing, ground driving, in-hand work, and just walking under saddle. There is so much good that comes out of an hour of walking on a loose rein- for both horse and rider. 

Second, don't forget that you need to loosen up and relax. The second you get tight and stuff, you lose your effectiveness as a rider. Practice a stretching routine before and during your ride to maintain range of motion and looseness of your muscles and joints. It helps both horse and rider tremendously, and it is something I am determined to practice daily.

Last, keep in mind that when your muscles are tired, you can't be effective. This works the same for your horse! When you find the quality of work or a particular movement slipping, find a good positive quitting note and end your ride with a long relaxing cool down. Happy spring, fellow equestrians! Get excited, get motivated, and get planning for this wonderful upcoming warm weather. It is the little things that make this life so amazing.


Katherine Shelton