How COVID-19 Affects Your Horsemanship

Hey, y'all! Sam here with a post about how all this Coronavirus junk affects YOUR horsemanship experience. I know, I'm late to this. Honestly, I was wondering whether I should add to the pile of COVID-19 blog posts out there, but I've made up my mind.

So, what does COVID-19 have to do with horsemanship? Well, the answer's pretty darn simple, y'all: nothing. This global pandemic has nothing to do with horsemanship. Actually, it has nothing to do with a lot of things... and yet it still affects almost everything.

Though the well-known virus has nothing to do with horsemanship, it still affects it. Many of you already know this. Some of y'all haven't been able to see your horse in months because it's stabled/boarded somewhere else. Some of you have had all of this year's shows and competitions canceled (this one's me!). While some of you have had no changes whatsoever in your horsemanship.

I have a solution to all of those problems (and anything in-between 😉). Yes, even the last one. You might not know it, but if COVID-19 hasn't changed anything for you, that's a problem. Read on to learn how to fix it.

If your horse is stabled/boarded somewhere else, well, I'm sorry for you. BUT! Even if you can't see your equine, you can still do things to improve your horsemanship skills. There are actually many, many things you can do. Here are just a few of them:

  • Exercise muscles that are useful when on horseback. This makes it so you don't get weak while you're binge-watching Netflix. You can find multiple different exercises online, just look it up!

  • Fill your mind with useful information. Watch YouTube videos on horsemanship techniques. They can range from healthy diets for your equine to liberty training. If you're more of a reader than a watcher, then you should do exactly what you're doing right now! Read blog posts, articles, old horsemanship journals you might have lying around in your closet drawers, etc.

  • Clean your tack and horsemanship tools. While your horse may be someplace else, you can still clean your tools, polish up your saddle and riding boots, wash out your grooming tools, throw your saddle pad in the washing machine, etc. That way, when the time comes to get back on our horse, you're ready.

I'd recommend doing all three of these things and everything in-between. You'll be surprised just how helpful the three of these combined can be.

Now, if you still have access to your horse, but all of your competitions and events have been canceled (seriously, I know how you feel!), then there are also many things you can do instead. I suggest doing the three things mentioned above, too, while also doing multiple things with your horse. For example:

  • Training for the competitions you would have been a part of. This can keep you and your equine from slowly falling out of your game and losing all the traction you've worked so hard to gain. If training requires an arena, but you don't have one, then try to go to your local cowboy church or public arena as often as possible. If they're closed, try to set up a kind of obstacle course at home the best you can. For example, I'm a barrel racer. I would buy a set of barrels and set them up out in the yard.

  • Liberty training. Many of you might think it CrAZy to lead and lunge your horse around without any ropes, but trust me, it's worth it. You're bonding with your equine on an entirely different level. Instead of you tugging on a rope, making them move forward, they're coming forward out of will. This is an entirely different level of horsemanship.

  • Grooming and health care. Now that you have extra time on your hands, you can spend more of it making sure your horse is in good shape. Clean out their water trough more often. Start measuring their feed more precisely. Change their pasture more often. Wash them more often. Etc! Paying more attention to your horse's health is vital. If you work on it more now, it'll become a habit in the future. A very, very good habit.

Okay, last but certainly not least, COVID-19 has done nothing to you and your horse. This one, dare I say, is the most terrible. Change, whether you like it or not, is vital. Horses are creatures of habit--, that's a fact you probably know well. But humans are also creatures of habit. We get so caught up in doing the same thing over and over again that we forget how good change is for our mental and physical health.

You might be thinking that your life has changed quite enough from all of this global pandemic stuff. You have more/less time on your hands than before, your hand sanitizer bottle keeps getting refilled because you use it so much, you have to wear a face mask and stay six feet away from other people, etc. Sure, this is change, but it's not the change I'm talking about. I'm saying you should take advantage of the extra time you have at home, and if you have less time, use the free time you do have better.

For example, instead of playing Candy Crush on your phone, go hang out with your horse. Just go to their pasture and talk to them. Any second you spend with your horse is a second of quality time. If you want to do something even more productive, I recommend you do some, if not all, of the six things I listed above. The solutions to the two situations can be applied just as well to your situation.

Basically, get working, get out, and mount. Most of the time, change is not something that just happens. It's something we must make happen. So, are you ready to make change?

That about covers what I had to say. I hope y'all found this post helpful. Comment below on how COVID-19 has changed your horsemanship! Sam out!

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