Find Activities for Every Horse (Even if They Can’t be Ridden)
By Karen Pickering
Browsing through some photographs from nearly ten years ago, I found one of my horse April learning how to walk on a balance beam. In the photo, we’re at a clinic at Bolender Horse Park where I discovered April’s ability to navigate obstacles. The picture was taken a couple of years after she was diagnosed with navicular.
It about broke my heart to think this horse I’d put so much time and money into was not going to be rideable in a few years. Believe it or not, at 20 years old, I’m still riding her. She can’t do long or hard rides anymore, but we still meander up to the park near where we live and venture out to ride with friends once in a while.
This photo got me thinking about what April and I can do in-hand if she gets to the point where she can’t be ridden. If you’re rehabilitating an injured horse or keeping an older horse somewhat fit, it’s good for both horse and owner to keep the activity going, no matter how light duty it is. For me, just spending time, feeding, grooming, cleaning, and hanging out with my horses is therapeutic.
April is one of those once-in-a-lifetime horses. She and I are so bonded I can’t imagine life without her. I’m on a journey to spend time with her that’s meaningful for both of us. We both need exercise to move past injury and boredom.
I have a hip injury that has taken away my motivation to go anywhere. I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to figure out what to do to ease the pain but, so far, nothing seems to be helping much. So, my form of pain management is horse time. It takes my mind off the discomfort.
For me wellness is about staying motivated, positive and looking for the good in all situations. Being self-employed can make “me time” challenging. The more I study ways to get away from stress the more I realize how important downtime is. My horses provide a perfect outlet for stress relief. I think I’m going to develop a meditation with sounds of horses munching hay, hoof beats on the road, and the quiet nicker when I come out to feed. I’ll visualize horses running through grassy fields frolicking and playing.
My hope for you is that you find that wellness sweet spot for yourself and your horse. We horse owners need to remember that our health is important too! Enjoy the beautiful fall weather and spend a little more time with your horse!
Quote: “In calmness of mind is greatness.” ~ Innocent Mwatsikesimbe – Self-help Author and Poet