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
Owner/Publisher Karen’s lifelong love of horses began at a very early age when she wore out a couple of rocking horses before convincing her parents to get her the real thing. That ill-tempered bay gelding, Brandy, was a challenge for the young horsewoman, but it drove her ambition to become a horse trainer. After attending Canyonview Equestrian College’s Horsemanship Program, Karen realized she needed work that was a little more lucrative than training, so she took a job with Customs Brokerage to pay the bills. There, she discovered an affinity for computers and a talent for creating informative, entertaining newsletters. The Northwest Horse Source began as such a letter in December 1995, with a distribution of 1000 copies for its 12 black and white pages. Since then, it has grown into beautiful, all-gloss magazine with the largest coverage of any free equine publication in the Northwest – a distribution of over 14,000 copies and over 500 locations monthly. Not bad for the results of one woman’s dream to work with horses!
Today, Karen remains involved with every aspect of the magazine and treasures the community of thousands who share a common passion. Somewhere in the wee hours of the early mornings and late evenings, she still finds time to care for April, her gorgeous and sweet-tempered Quarter Horse.