by Marilyn Munzert
Maybe you prefer to savor your horse time as alone time, or maybe you keep your horse at home with no horsey neighbors. Perhaps you’re not the socializing type at the barn where you board, or you arrive at the barn at a time nobody else is there. Maybe you have been drilling your horse in preparation for a show and need some fun time together. Maybe your horse is spooky, and you need a calm situation, where you can build trust. If any of these describes you, here are some entertaining, inexpensive things to do with your horse alone.
If you seek to improve your horse’s responsiveness, suppleness, and muscle tone as well as freshen his outlook and cure arena boredom, try using traffic cones or other markers in the arena or field. Place the cones so you ride figure eights, serpentines, spirals, and various size circles. An option to purchasing cones is to make your own painted blocks of wood. You can decorate or stencil anything on the wood, such as letters or designs. Clean gallon milk jugs filled with dirt or rocks, make excellent, sturdy markers.
To improve your riding by becoming more fluent and less self-conscious, play games of skill, such as broom polo. You’ll need a broom, a soccer ball or a basketball and a horse, who has been familiarized with a swinging broom and a flying ball. Dropping and an object into a bucket, placed on top of a barrel, will help with coordination and cooperation between you and your horse. Spearing a ring hung from a pole with improve your steering and control.
Reducing spookiness in your horse is a great goal. A homemade trail obstacle course in the field or around your property will help fine-tune the communication between you and your horse as well as enhance the problem-solving skills of both of you. By varying the location of the obstacles and changing the way they look, you are exposing your horse to new situations, which will help with his spookiness. Incorporating natural obstacles like puddles, ditches, gates and different textured surfaces will keep the course interesting for both of you. Attempt to complete the course accurately in a shorter and shorter amount of time.
Riding to music brings to mind a musical freestyle routine. Create your own freestyle and concentrate on perfecting the maneuvers. All you need for equipment is a good imagination and a portable mp3 player or CD player.
Prepare your horse for a candid photo shoot by grooming, bathing, and clipping him. You’ll have a clean horse and the pictures to prove it. Vary the location of the shots so the backgrounds are interesting. Spending quality time grooming serves as a good double check for cuts, bumps, hot spots, and other minor conditions you might otherwise miss. Don’t forget that grooming cements the good relationship between you and your horse.
Teach your horse some tricks such as bowing, dropping his head or chasing a large ball. Practice horsemanship by putting on a halter, then encouraging the horse to stick his nose into the halter by himself. Teach the horse to follow you, without a lead-rope, everywhere you walk, trot or canter. All interaction is a good thing, as long as it is safe for you and the horse.
Time alone with your horse
by Marilyn Munzert