There is a great opportunity during this pandemic for the horse owners and riders to truly bond with their horses. Apart from riding them, it would be good to spend some quality time with your favorite animals. Bonding with your horse is a key factor of success in the equestrian sport.
Horses are remarkable animals that are willing to do anything for their owners. Horse riders should be sharing a similar belief system and do the best they can for their companions.
As a specialist equine therapist, I have witnessed how horses demonstrate their feelings. The current Convid-19 epidemic situation, has affected their psychology almost as much as ours. In most of the countries that have imposed a lock down system, horse owners cannot visit their horses as they used too.
Therefore, horses may be experiencing a feeling of abandonment, which could also result in depression. Especially in some countries that are no fields or paddocks available to go in. This should be taken under consideration and horse owners/riders need to take steps and actively support their companions.
By arranging to spend quality time with your horse, you will have the opportunity to learn more about his/her character, the way he/she thinks and acts. Find out what he/she likes and don’t likes. You might see a smile in your horse’s lips when experiensing happiness and your affection. This will impact positively on your own state of mind too!
There are so many, simple things that you can do for them: For example, giving a hug to your horse, talking to them, grooming, hand walking, finding his/her favorite itching spot, making him/her homemade treats or a nice salad with vegetables and fruits, and/or crafting a toy for your horse.
You can also get involved in tasks that will help your horse maintain a good physical condition and require you to spend more time together. Here’s one of my favorite ones:
Carrot stretches (Passive neck stretches)
These are called “carrot stretches” because you will use a carrot (or other treat) to guide your horse’s nose to go for the stretch. Most horses adapt to these stretches very readily, but your horse must have good manners about taking food from your hands. They are probably the easiest and least dangerous stretches, and also the most widely known.
a) Lateral neck stretches. Stand on your horse’s left side, just at his withers, facing the front of the horse. Allow him/her to sniff the carrot or treat that you’re holding in your left hand. Then using your left hand, guide his nose back toward the withers. When he reaches the “point of intent”- in other words, the point at which he’s lengthened his muscles to the desired degree-you may give him the carrot. Do this several times, moving the treat a little farther back toward the point of the hip each time. Then switch to the right side and repeat the steps. A couple of cautions: You may have to place the hand that is closest to the horse on his neck or back to help him turn just his neck, not his entire body. If the horse steps forward during this exercise, the stretch will be non-productive, so keep his feet in place.
b) Vertical neck stretches. On the horse’s left side, stand facing forward just behind the horse’s front leg. Holding the carrot in your left hand, guide the horse’s nose straight down, squatting in a stable position as you go down. End with the carrot in your right hand held between his front legs at ground level. Repeat this several times. You also can hold a carrot up and out in front of the horse to help with neck extension. One caution: For these stretches to be beneficial, the horse’s legs must be straight throughout.
Stretching your horse’s muscles will improve performance and decrease the occurrence of injuries.
A regular stretching routine is the best preventive advantage you can give your horse. By increasing his suppleness and elasticity, you can greatly reduce the risk of pulled muscles or tendons. You’ll improve circulation and relieve pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms.
Do the stretches when your horse is warm
Avoid Over-Stretching Your Horse
As you introduce your horse to a stretching routine, be patient.
The goal is your horse to learn to trust you and go with the flow.
Over-stretching can result in soreness or even muscle/tendon damage.
I hope that you will enjoy these activities with your horse, grabbing the opportunity to enhance the special bond between you two.