Thanks to Hurricane Florence, many of us on the east coast have found ourselves in a torrential downpour of late. It’s a fitting grand finale to one of the wettest summer in recent memory, which has manifested in cancelled events, flooding and bad footing that has made eventing a challenge in 2018. It’s time to turn lemons into lemonade. Here are some great ideas to keep yourself (and your horse) busy on a torrential downpour day!
1. Rain gear & puddles. Obviously you want to wait until the actual storm has cleared because there’s no need in risking getting struck by lightning. However, up and coming event horses, or even established ones, will benefit from practicing riding in the rain and through slop. This is the perfect exercise if you do not have an indoor arena!
For the young ones I will ride down our gravel driveway and introduce them to water for the first time by having them walk through the puddles all the way to our mailbox. For really green horses you can introduce them to a puddle on lunge line on a rainy day. Put on your rubber boots and hop in with them! It’s a nice easy day but gets their brain thinking about water crossings.
For the established horses find a spot that you don’t mind tearing up a little bit and practice riding in the mud. If you are feeling particularly saucy, put on your rain gear and ride in the pouring rain. All too often we skip this in training and are surprised when our horses are upset when it’s windy and rainy at a show … or they spook at the sound of rain hitting our rain jackets!
2. Grids, grids, grids. If you are fortunate enough to have an indoor arena, or an outdoor that drains quite well, grid work is the perfect exercise on a rainy day. You can practice your dressage with raised poles, set up jump grids, cavalletti, etc!
3. Ride bareback. If you don’t have an indoor arena, and the footing does not allow you to do more than walk, do a bareback ride. Again, this can be done down the gravel driveway, or dry path. Keep in mind if the footing is slick, you might want the security of a saddle! Challenge yourself to see how long you can ride in an actual good jumping position or dressage position without your saddle in the arena. You could even do this in the indoor over poles or cavaletti, or even jump depending on your experience level.
4. Clean and organize tack. It’s something we all like to avoid, but our trailers tend to look like an episode of “Hoarders” when we come back from a three-day event. Maybe take a rainy day to get everything organized in tubs and bins ,and clean what needs it, and sort out items you don’t actually need.
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From a soggy day of dressage in slop to a hot muggy xc day Fox River Valley was an adventure! Freddie was a rockstar finishing in 1st on his dressage score of 22.9! My students also put in some amazing riding making a very proud and tired coach @mckaylamattison.eventing @mckenna_moran1 @jumpthethings @ebk.eventing #eventersrideineverything #mudageddon #whywhitebreeches #foxrivervalleyhorsetrials #adastraeventing
5. READ!! If you are unable to do any of the other exercises due to excessive storms or flooding, take the opportunity to stay inside and read your favorite Eventing Nation articles. Most equestrians have a stack of magazines with great articles full of exercises, tips and excellent education that we always promise ourselves someday we will sit down and read. Now is the time!
6. Clean the house. Hahahahahaha just kidding. We all know that isn’t going to happen.
7. Go for a long hack. Walking is great for a horse’s body and brain. If you have a place where you can safely hack down the road, or on a trail that hasn’t washed away in the flood, let your horse have a brain break. It’s good for you, too. As competitors we tend to be so focused on skills and showing that we forget the bond we have with our horse.
8. Wash saddle pads. Take all your dirty saddle pads, horse blankets (winter will be here before you know it!) and wash them at your local laundromat … or at home when no one is looking. Drop off show coats at the dry cleaner — when was the last time you actually had that thing cleaned??
9. Suppling exercises. Stretching and softening are great exercises for your horse on a bad weather day. Practice a turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand, free walk to medium walk, or stretchy trot if the footing will allow. Again, these can be done outside at the walk if you don’t have an indoor and the footing isn’t the best.
CHIME IN! Has your local event, schooling day or show been cancelled? What did you do on the downpour day to stay busy?