Dark nights, short days

It’s not the weather that is depressing about the winter, though that can be tedious, it is the short days. The lack of daylight is my biggest problem. There is so little day in which to fit in everything that I want to do outside.

On work days you watch the light slowly fade from the skies and realise that you still have 2 hours left of staring at your computer before you can even go outside. And if you work outside, the day is suddenly incredibly short.

I don’t mind the cold, or even the rain, after all, there is no such thing as bad weather, simply bad clothes! This is true to an extent, buying decent outdoor clothes which are suitable for the location and the activity does make a difference. Walking clothes are designed for walking in, riding clothes are designed for riding. Even though it can seem extravagant to have specific different clothes for different activities it does make a difference.

Especially this year. This year walking is our saving grace, why else has there been such a rise in the price of puppies? The footpaths are once again full of people, carparks by well-known walks are overflowing onto the lanes. This year the money you haven’t spent in the pub, I suggest investing in good outdoor jackets, fleeces, layers. Layers are your friend, trapping in heat, providing you with the ability to alter your clothing depending upon intensity level. On, off, on off all day!

But clothing can’t help the day length, and unless you are lucky enough to have a floodlit arena or an indoor school, its simply too dark to ride. This said, simply hanging out with your horse at the end of the day can be a pleasant change from your office. Relaxing and de-stressing time spent simply being with your horse can be wonderful. If you want something to do with your horse that you can do in your stable, take a look at our books, Activate Your Horse’s Core, or Horse Massage for Horse Owners.

And remember it is less than 4 weeks till the shortest day, and then the days start getting longer again!

Things to do in the rain…

The rain is rolling down my window panes with a seamless backdrop of grey skies. October is heralding in winter in all its gloomy glory. But our horses are still there waiting for us by their gates, or standing in their boxes, sleeping under the patter of rain on sheet roofing. They still need attention and interaction.

Some people are happy to ride in the rain, as are some horses, but some people hate it, or are starting to struggle with the darkening evenings. Sometimes riding isn’t an option, but there are other things you can do with your horse.

Grooming is a great way to spend time bonding with your horse. Old-fashioned grooms used to spend hours strapping their charges, bringing a gleam to their coat and giving their muscles a work out at the same time. In our time pushed world, we tend to go for quick fix, a quick flip round the tack areas before saddling up. But spending time just grooming your horse will be therapeutic and rewarding for both of you.

Massaging is another brilliant bonding exercise, learning some of the basic massage skills is an invaluable tool to have in your knowledge banks. Take a look at our ever popular “Horse Massage for Horse Owners” book, which will teach you how to give your own horse a lovely massage.

Our best-selling “Activate Your Horse’s Core” teaches you how to do stretches with your horse that will increase his flexibility, these exercises are invaluable to help your horse improve his evenness from side to side, and give you another activity to do with your horse.

Using a combination of the three will help you to spend enjoyable time with your horse, on those rain drenched, miserable days when you don’t want to ride, or even take him for an in-hand walk. Having a collection of different things to do, will prevent you both getting bored and will give hours of enjoyment and pleasure in each others company.

January is rubbish!

Nobody likes January, so at least you don’t have to feel alone in your dislike of the worst of the winter months. Everyone is fed-up, tired, skint. The days are short and gray. The fields muddy and windswept. Horses are skittish and spooky. Everything seems like hard work. The summer seems like a distant memory or an unimaginable future.

But all is not lost! There are ways to cope! Remember, is really isn’t that long until the weather gets better, the days get longer. February can be lovely. In no time at all you will be complaining about flies!

Take the time to sort out your tackroom, you don’t want to waste a precious sunny day on doing it. Pick a cold (not raining!) day and drag everything out, sort out rugs to be repaired, or binned! Sweep out all those little corners, make sure you have everything in the most convenient place. Think about what you use the most, what would be better on that high shelf?

If the weather is too miserable to ride, why not spend time with your horse on the ground? You can spend some time grooming, or massaging him. You can teach him tricks. You could sit in your stable (safely!) and draw him. There are endless ways you can build on your relationship with your horse without having to actually ride. Take a look at our book and DVD Horse Massage for Horse Owners for help in learning to massage.

Remember the days are getting longer, Spring will come, the grass will grow, the mud will recede, the days will get longer, your horse will settle down, your toes will stop hurting with the cold, and quite soon you will be wandering along a track on your horse in the sunshine and you will have quite forgotten about the misery of the winter.

5 things we love to do in the Autumn

Summer has slipped away and left behind a trail of golden leaves as we move into Autumn. As with all seasons, there are both good and bad points to this part of the year. Here are our top five things to do with your horse in the autumn.

1 – Look back at this year and look forward to the next one. We are so busy doing and being, and paying bills, and working, and riding and, and, and that we forget to take a moment to pause and reflect. Autumn is a great time to just take a moment and think about your achievements throughout the year, and maybe to consider some goals that you have for the forthcoming year.

2 – Learning. As the evening begin to draw in, and daylight hours start to slip away, it becomes harder and harder to spend hours in the saddle. However, it does become much easier to sit inside and read a book or watch a DVD! Take some time to improve your knowledge, not even necessarily about horses, expanding your knowledge is fantastic for your brain and yourself in general. “Understanding Horse Performance Brain, Pain, or Training?” is our highly recommended book and DVD.

3 – Massaging your horse. One of our favourite things to do with our horses when we cannot ride them. Massage is enjoyable for both horse and owner, and can really help improve your bond with your horse. Horse Massage for Horse Owners is a great place to start.

4 – Enjoy the Autumn colours. We love Autumn, the changing leaves and landscape can be startlingly beautiful. Make some time to get out in it and enjoy it. If you can’t ride, take your horse for a walk with you.

5 – Carrot or baited stretches. Another lovely way to spend time with your horse, both improving your bond, and helping him to stay flexible and mobile. Check out the brilliant book and DVD “Activate your horse’s core.” Remember carrot stretches are not appropriate for all horses, and stay safe.

Enjoy Autumn with your horses!

Here comes Autumn!

I’m just starting to feel the first chill of Autumn in the air. I love Autumn, and here are our top five things to do with your horse in the autumn.

1 – Look back at this year and look forward to the next one. We are so busy doing and being, and paying bills, and working, and riding and, and, and that we forget to take a moment to pause and reflect. Autumn is a great time to just take a moment and think about your achievements throughout the year, and maybe to consider some goals that you have for the forthcoming year.

2 – Learning. As the evening begin to draw in, and daylight hours start to slip away, it becomes harder and harder to spend hours in the saddle. However, it does become much easier to sit inside and read a book or watch a DVD! Take some time to improve your knowledge, not even necessarily about horses, expanding your knowledge is fantastic for your brain and yourself in general. “Understanding Horse Performance Brain, Pain, or Training?” is our highly recommended book and DVD.

3 – Massaging your horse. One of our favourite things to do with our horses when we cannot ride them. Massage is enjoyable for both horse and owner, and can really help improve your bond with your horse. Horse Massage for Horse Owners is a great place to start.

4 – Enjoy the Autumn colours. We love Autumn, the changing leaves and landscape can be startlingly beautiful. Make some time to get out in it and enjoy it. If you can’t ride, take your horse for a walk with you.

5 – Carrot or baited stretches. Another lovely way to spend time with your horse, both improving your bond, and helping him to stay flexible and mobile. Check out the brilliant book and DVD “Activate your horse’s core.” Remember carrot stretches are not appropriate for all horses, and stay safe.

Enjoy Autumn with your horses!

Keeping your horse on box rest

Box rest can be a very stressful time for both you and your horse. Often the box rest has been created by an accident or injury. So, you have the worry over that, and how the injury will heal, as well as the worry about how your horse will cope with being on box rest as well. Remember box rest is a turn of phrase, it does not necessarily mean that your horse can never leave his stable – make sure that you discuss with your vet what the limitations are. Horses, just like us, are individuals and you know your horse better than anyone. If you are concerned about how your horse will cope with being on box rest, please talk to your vet.

One of the main concerns about box rest is that your horse will be inclined to put on weight, which won’t help if he is trying to recover from injury. Balancing out restricting feed with preventing gastric ulcers can be a tricky balance. Make sure that his bedding is comfortable and is not causing him to stand at a strange angle thereby placing more strain through his joints.

Keeping him mobile is a massive part of his recovery. There are various ways that you can do this. Simple mobilisation stretches are a great way to encourage gentle movement, as are baited stretches, provided that they are appropriate for your horse. Walking in hand can be an excellent way to help keep your horse healthy during box rest. Though discuss this with your vet and consider the nature of your horse. If he is going to be rearing and spinning while being led out then it probably won’t help his recovery!

Massage or grooming will be of great benefit to your horse. In the old days all grooms would strap their horses every day, essentially giving them a massage and giving the grooms the opportunity to know their horses inside out. In our fast-paced modern world, we consider grooming simply flicking the mud off so the tack doesn’t rub. If your horse is injured and you can’t ride, you can spend that time massaging and grooming him. This will improve your relationship with your horse, as well as helping him to heal.

Box rest can be difficult. Spending some time working out things to keep your horse entertained and building in mobilisation and massage time into your day, will help you to keep him happy and healthy during his recuperation period. Just remember that when you start riding again he won’t be as fit as he was and to start slowly and build up the work in small increments.

 

Don’t underestimate the value of massage

I am a client at the Nicky Snazell’s Pain Relief Clinic (http://www.painreliefclinic.co.uk), and without Chartered Physiotherapist David Paling, I I’m not sure how I’d keep doing the physical job I do as an ACPAT and RAMP registered Chartered Physiotherapist.

 

The Pain Relief Clinic sends out a regular newsletter, and I wanted to share with you one of their recent articles, titled “Don’t underestimate the value of massage”.

 

“In the UK we tend to dismiss massage as nothing other than an indulgent treat, with little therapeutic value. This, however, is completely wrong and there are a lot of studies from all over the world which prove otherwise. The truth is that appropriate massage for your condition can greatly benefit to you.

 

You might find it interesting, for example, that in Germany, GPs will regularly prescribe a course of massage rather than prescribe drugs. Why would they do that, if not for good reason?

 

Here are some of the known benefits of massage:

 

  • It eases muscle pain and improves circulation
  • It reduces stress
  • It counteracts the postural stress resulting from sitting at a desk all day
  • It relieves headaches and migraines
  • It helps prevent future injury
  • It improves sleep
  • It reduces blood pressure
  • It strengthens the immune system
  • It helps anxiety and depression

 

Given enough space there are plenty more benefits to list. But the evidence is very clear: regular massage has many benefits it’s time to readjust your view on massage and recognise just how much it you could help you.”

 

If you’re in Staffordshire, you can find out more about the Pain Relief Clinic here: http://www.painreliefclinic.co.uk.

 

If you’d like to apply these theories to your horse, consider our 5* book and DVD ‘Horse Massage for Horse Owners’  and contact your local Equine Massage Therapist through the Equine Sports Massage Association 

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Why massage is so good?

By Lizzie Hopkinson

We all know that massage is good for us, and for our horses too. We enjoy it, we feel looser, more relaxed, more supple afterwards. In a perfect world many of us would love to have a massage every day. But while we probably can’t manage to achieve that, we can try and give our horses a basic, simple and quick massage everyday. It is possible to build a period of massage into your horse time without too much effort.

In the olden days, grooms used to spend hours strapping their horses. This time they spent was amazingly beneficial for the horses. The grooms would know every inch of their horses and be attuned to any changes long before that change might have translated into a problem. In our fast paced modern life that is simply outside the realms of most peoples’ lives, however using a few simple massage techniques can give us, and our horses, some of the benefits of hours of strapping without the time expenditure.

Regular massage prevents the build-up of tension in the muscles, encouraging the muscles to relax. This means that over time the horse has less chance of becoming tighter on one side than the other, which can lead to asymmetry and in the long term can lead to further problems.

Just as massage has a beneficial effect on our mental state, so to do our horses find massage relaxing. Watch a horse being massaged and you will see in the movement of the muzzle and the ears that horses find massage deeply relaxing. Just like us, horses will find themselves more resilient in the face of stress if they are starting from a point of relaxation not stress.

Massage is surprisingly easy to learn to do, why not take a look at our “Horse Massage for Horse Owners” bundle deal to get you started?

And finally, massage is a lovely way to spend time bonding with your horse.

Enjoy!