New Year Resolutions
Here are some ideas that can help us to "reconnect" and "re-ignite" the joy of our passion for horses.
When was the last time you went to the barn to just groom and show affection to your loyal equine friend?
This kind of time not only offers you a chance to thoroughly check over your horse, but also creates peaceful thinking time, free from all of the day-to-day pressures. If you have let that bridle path, mane, and tail go, now is a good time to trim up, pull mane, and thoroughly brush out that tail. For those that do groom and trim on a regular basis, show affection to your horse. A warm bran mash with a few apple pieces can be a welcome treat on a cold January evening. A change of routine is good for him and you!
Used any good hoof oils lately?
There are many to choose from. Hoof conditioners can help cracking that occurs from weather changes, dryness and wet ground. Spending a bit of time on hoof care will help ensure your horse's feet are in tiptop shape. Be sure to have your horses feet trimmed and/or shod on a regular six to eight week basis. If you're not totally satisfied with the farrier service you have been getting, it may be time for a change. Many farriers take ongoing classes and seminars to "keep up" with current hoof care techniques and issues. Some specialize in corrective shoeing and can help a lame horse to become sound enough to ride again. Ask questions directly to the farrier and also talk to others that have used his/her services. When you pay for a service, you have the right to know and ask questions.
Make it your goal to clean and oil all of your tack.
Organize tack trunks, and tack areas. Wash bits and clean your saddles and other leather equipment. Leather conditioning is important for the life of your tack. Additionally, unconditioned leather can be a hazard if your tack breaks on a trail, or on a ride anywhere. Evaluate any tack that has sat unused for a year or longer. If it's in good condition, you may want to gather what you no longer use and attend a tack sale. Or if your tack is too old, discarding it may be your best choice. It will give your more space for needed items and keep you more organized.
Wash your brushes and grooming combs.
Clean them in warm water and gentle soap with a small bit of bleach. Take inventory of what is in poor shape or broken so you can replace needed grooming products. You may even want to really get a jump-start on spring and purchase your fly masks and sprays in quantity, potentially at a better price.
What condition is your barn cleaning equipment in these days?
If your wheelbarrow wheel is low, add air or replace it. Low air in wheels makes any hauling more difficult, costing you time and energy. If pickers have broken, or you see more "air" than "teeth," think about a replacement. A good picker can make cleaning your stall much faster and less strenuous. Personally, I like the pickers with built up edges. You can scoop more and save more bedding when using this style.
If your hay can be hard to get, or if it gets harder to find hay in the spring, inventory what you currently have.
Count your hay bales by approximating the stacked rows. Contact your hay sources to let them know how much hay you will need. They may store it for you or you may find out that now is a good time to purchase before you run short before the spring cutting.
Are you at a place in your life where you're just riding for pleasure?
Set some goals for yourself and your horse. There are several good books filled with "solid centered" riding tips. Or you may want to try taking a few lessons to get a trainer's point of view on "brushing up" on your riding skills. Videos are also a good source for schooling ideas. But if you purchase a training tool, be sure to use it and set your goals for improvement and self-fulfillment.
Have you ever dared to try a new discipline?
It's a wonderful learning experience for you and your horse to try your hand (and leg) at a new style of riding. As we all know, balance is everything and only helps you to be a better, more well rounded rider.
How do your boots and gloves look these days?
A good boot cleaner and wax will not only have you looking good, but also preserve your boots. Gloves, be they leather or cloth, can be washed gently and air-dried. Gloves can get a build up that will make them sticky or too slick. Have a "marathon" laundry day including blanket pads and rugs.
Lastly, but most importantly, have fun with your horse!
If you wish you could ride more, schedule it and follow through. If you are burned out from lessons and discipline, take a quiet and enjoyable trail ride. The places you ride are every bit as important as the ride itself; be it a woods, open meadow, along water, or a hill, enjoy the view. Your horse will also enjoy your relaxed state and he will relax too.
With our horses, we have been given a gift that some never get to experience. Make time in your busy life to pre-plan and set your schedule to organize, clean, inventory and ride! Make your New Year resolutions and write them down. Set your goals, and check back in a few months to see what you’ve accomplished. Your achievements will definitely inspire you to do more, and you will have a new sense of self-satisfaction.
Have a safe and Happy New Year!
Debbie has over 45 years experience with horses and equine-related businesses. She has owned, trained, boarded horses and run stables at various times in her career. She is a certified fence installer, has given balanced riding lessons, and has shown horses in Western, Western Pleasure, Trail, English, Hunter/Jumper, Fox Hunting, Hunter Trials, Dressage and driving classes. Debbie has been involved in foaling, and just about every aspect of horse ownership possible, and she welcomes your questions and comments. If you are interested in using any articles by Debbie, please send her an email.
RAMM Fence Systems, Inc. makes every effort to provide reliable and useful information on horse health, care and products. The statements made on this website are based on years of experience with horses, however, they are based on generalized situations and should not replace diagnosis or treatment by a veterinarian or consultation by a professional. RAMM Fence Systems, Inc. does not assume any legal responsibility. Readers should always consult qualified health care providers for specific diagnosis and treatment.