Keep Your Outdoor Adventures Safe and Enjoyable!
Tips for Spring Riding
Spring is upon us and cabin fever is pushing us out the door and onto the trail. If it has been awhile since youíve last ridden your horse, now is a good time to review a few of the essentials to help keep you and your horse safe, comfortable, and ready for many more rides throughout the year.
The old saying ďNo feet, no horseĒ is just as true now as it was back in the day. If youíve kept up your hoof trimming or shoeing regimen you should be fine. If you havenít; now is the time to get your farrier or hoof care professional out to get those feet into shape before you swing into the saddle.
Another hoof related item is founder. Lush spring growth can cause problems if itís consumed in quantity. Be careful to regulate your equine friends' feed intake and restrict access to lush grass until they can adapt to it.
Wet spring weather can also be a contributing factor for thrush and/or whiteline disease. Fungus and bacteria love moist wet, and muddy conditions so be sure to keep hoofs clean.
Time for a Physical
Spring is a great time for your horseís annual check-up as well as vaccinations. A thorough check up now can identify and treat potential problems that could sideline your horse later. While the vet is out, a good check of teeth can help to identify any sharp points that can cause your horse to start the year in a grumpy manner.
De-worming now will help your horse start the riding season off right and build condition faster. Hopefully you have a scheduled de-worming program to keep your stock at their peak health. If not now's a good time to start one.
Our horses often look like yaks towards the end of winter. A shedding blade can help rid them of excess hair and accumulated mud and dirt from the winter. I like to use a rubber curry to gently loosen filth as well as deliver a massage.
Check Fit of Tack
Many horses drop or add weight over the winter so donít assume that the saddle that fit last fall when your horse was in peak condition will fit now after 3 months of lounging about the paddock. You may have to use different cinches or blankets to adjust the fit until your horse builds its condition again. This is also a great time to clean and oil your gear. I know that I have a tendency to put off cleaning my saddle and associated tack; our spring tack check gives me a good excuse to get my gear into top condition to start the year.
Refresh the Basics
When you first start riding in the spring, both you and the horse may be a bit rusty on the basics such as starting, stopping, and turning. Most often itís the whoa part that gives us trouble as the fresh spring air tends to bring out any feisty tendencies. I like to use my early spring rides to reinforce the concept of the one rein stop. After that Iíll work on refining any other rusty areas before we hit the trails in earnest.
This short list should help get you and your horse back onto the trails in a safe and enjoyable manner. By taking time to think, plan, and then take action now for the upcoming prime riding season, you'll have a head start for great riding.
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