Christmas is a chance for many of us to get time off from school or work. It's time for family, time for a rest, and maybe most importantly, time to spend at the barn!
In case you do end up making extra visits to your horse, here are some festive ideas to get the most out of your holiday. My best wishes to you during the holiday season.
Decorate the stalls and barn.
Many barns encourage boarders and students to decorate the aisles and stalls. Keep in mind that the horses are often eager to explore all the shiny objects and tinsel. Carefully hang decorations away from snoopy noses and mouths.
Make stocking stuffers for the horses.
This is a favorite at our barn. All the horses get stockings hung on their stalls (even the horses who live outside get stocking space in the barn), and Santa stops in to drop off horse-approved gifts on Christmas Eve. It's always a happy surprise to find treats for the horses on Christmas morning.
Use that extra time to give your tack some tender loving care. If you're in areas with colder climates (like us), you'll appreciate the not quite freeze-yer-fingers off temperatures that still allow you to do things without gloves. Soon enough, the cold weather will really hit and then you'll be limited to doing things with the gloves on.
Organize your things.
Go through your boxes and cabinets. Clear out anything that's getting too old and store away the things you won't need for the next few months. You might want to remove anything that will freeze over the winter and take those home. The idea is to have everything you need now available and easy to find.
Give your horse a thorough grooming.
This is the chance for you to pay unhurried, special attention to your horse. I could easily spend an hour grooming my horse if I had time, but that doesn't occur too often. You can focus one of your holiday visits on the extra care that you've always wanted to do. Trim your horse's mane, brush out the mane and tail, remove the chestnuts on the horse's legs and run a soft cloth over his face.
Have a "barn family" visit.
Getting together over the holidays is a special treat. Our busy lives often dictate when we can be at the barn, reducing the chance that we can visit with friends as much as we'd like. Even if we're there at the same time, we often focus most of our attention on our horses and rides, so once again, socialization has to fall to the wayside. Whether at someone's house or at a nice local restaurant, the holidays are the perfect time to gather together and chat about our horses!
Go for a trail ride.
The days are shortest during this season, so you might be able to take advantage of a beautiful ride during the day. Enjoy the crisp air and the clear footing, or get out into that freshly fallen snow! Even your horse will appreciate the outdoor time and the open air.
Ride with your friends.
Since your time is more under your control, you can organize a day or two of riding time with the friends you don't often get to ride with. Riding together can be a source of inspiration and motivation, and there is nothing more enjoyable than bouncing ideas off (not literally!) each other while you're together in the ring at the same time.
Watch or ride in a clinic or lesson.
Many barns take set up a clinic or extra lessons over the holidays. Always take advantage of special learning opportunities.
Organize a musical ride.
Or a riding game. Do anything that gets people out to spend the day with their horses and fellow riders. Riding together and working toward a common goal can be so much fun!
Watch those videos you've bookmarked.
There are so many quality training and lesson videos available now on the Internet that there must be something you've been meaning to watch but haven't had the time for. This is your chance!
Snuggle up with a good book.
Ask Santa for a great horse book and snuggle up on the colder days with visions of horses dancing in your head!
What do you do to make your horsey holidays special? Comment below.
Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!
Ready for something completely different? If you liked what you read here, you might be interested in the new Horse Listening Practice Sessions.
This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.
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More fun articles to read:
42 Ways to Learn, Play and Grow With Your Horse: Horses give to us in countless ways. We play, learn and grow with them, making horseback riding not merely a sport (which it truly is, like no other), but so much more.
Good Day For A Little Horseplay: Snort, snort, snort, SNORT! My gelding couldn’t tell me in any clearer terms how much he was enjoying the moment.
Horse Treats For Christmas: Bake these horse-approved treats for every equine in your barn!
20 Ways Horse Riding Becomes Life Itself: You could say that horses are our teachers. Not only do we grow in terms of physical ability, but perhaps even more so, we grow in character.