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6 Things Riders Can Do During Lockdown...

Nobody could have forecast the situation riders find themselves in right now – not just here in South Africa, but around the world. It seems that our government stance is unyielding, and that even being able to go and ride your horse is a no-no.

Even worse for many is that the prospect of a show is in the even more distant future. Will we have Derby this year? Its not looking good. The World Cup shows are doubtful, and you can’t even hack to the yard down the road for a training show. For those whose riding revolves around a bit of competition, it is devastating, and for those who own horses and are seeing their own incomes depleted by the destructive restrictions on business, it all seems a bit desperate.

The future is uncertain, but you cannot live in limbo, so what can you do for the next few months as lockdown slowly eases and the prospect of shows becomes a little more tangible.

1 .BUY A HORSE Yes, you heard me. For many money is tight and getting tighter. But horses are still for sale and there will be bargains out there. Some people would usually be spending money going to away shows, eating out a few times a week, having multiple lessons and taking a holiday. Some would even be on an annual buying trip to Europe. So that cash you’ve been saving, or that money earmarked for the next auction – put it to good use and go and buy something. There is still a future after this, so why wait.

2. JOIN AN ONLINE COMMUNITY Horsey people are only happy in the presence of other horsey people. You might be feeling emotionally drained without your horsey fix. Find other horsey people, both locally and internationally and interact. Broaden your horizons and share in each other’s experiences. You might make new friends, and come through this ordeal with a new purpose.

3. GET TO THE NEXT GRADE There might be no shows, but that doesn’t mean progress must stop. Do everything in your power to get to your horse as soon as possible. If you can’t, use your trainer at the yard to put some work in for you. A couple of months of good schooling is the perfect platform for you to build on. Then prepare as if you have shows coming up. Develop the things you need to develop. You should come out of this with a more schooled horse, ready to compete at the next level.

4. LEARN NEW THINGS Having horses means never stopping learning. Just because you are a little restricted now, doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Get online and watch top competitions. Find out about the top riders and horses. Take the time to learn about breeding, about tack, about shoeing. The volumes of things to learn about when it comes to horses is enough to see you through multiple lockdowns. Many coaches are offering online tutorials and interviews. Track them down. Learn new exercises and apply them. Its also a great time to become more independent. Sometimes having to do things alone is beneficial – it gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you stronger.

5. IMPROVE YOUR FITNESS You may have a lot more time on your hands. If your normal routine was a trip to the shops with coffee or lunch, now it could be some exercise. Strengthen your core, lose that excess weight and do some cardio. A bit of jogging or cycling could be just what the doctor ordered. Riding fitness is specific, but general fitness and strength helps so much when you get back in the saddle. All of a sudden your balance is better, you don’t get tired so easily and your striding improves. Face it – the first week back in the saddle is going to be a killer if you haven’t kept yourself going.

6. HELP A HORSE IN NEED There are going to be horses who are not fortunate. There are going to be casualties of the financial crisis that this scenario is sure to create. Small riding establishments and even owners of a horse or two on a smallholding may be skimping. Winter means grazing quality will diminish, and there are already people who are cutting back on concentrates.
Find the local relevant charities and make a small contribution. Make sure that the innocent horses (and dogs, cats etc) don’t suffer unnecessarily.

Not everybody will be able to help – the fallout will be great, but those that can should.