12 GOOD habits that every rider should develop
When equestrians think of ‘habits’ they usually think of bad ones such as looking down at the ground while riding. But there are many good habits that you should work on getting into as a rider. Making a conscious effort in your daily life to develop some simple good habits can transform you into a better rider and horseman. It will take a bit of time and commitment on your part to form these habits but you owe it to yourself and your horse(s) to form these habits…
1) Clean your tack. Daily. Not only will you look like a more polished rider if your tack is always spotless but it will save you heaps of money because your tack will last way longer. Plus you will notice any stitching that is wearing down or cracking leather, which could prevent a serious tack malfunction.
2) Curry your horse’s coat every time you groom it. Consistent currying will give your horse a shiny and healthy coat that everyone at the barn will envy. Just do it.
3) Walk your horse for at least ten minutes to warm it up and cool it down. Professional athletes always warm-up and cool down their bodies properly. Your horse is an athlete and deserves to be treated as such. A proper warm-up and cool down will help keep your horse sound.
4) Wash your saddle pads before they get filthy. If you wouldn’t want to wear the saddle pad, then it’s too dirty for your horse to wear also. Cleaning your saddle pads regularly will keep them sparkling clean and your horse will appreciate the feeling of a nice clean pad.
5) Regularly spend time reading about your sport. Reading is the most effective and affordable way to grow as a rider and horseman. Setting aside a few hours a week to read about your sport should be an absolute must.
6) Always keep your horse’s legs clean and dry. The best way to fight fungus, mud fever, etc. is by preventing it. Washing your horse’s legs off with a gentle shampoo and then towel drying them will keep fungal infections at bay.
7) Sweep the barn. It doesn’t matter if it was not your horse that made the entire mess, quit being lazy and sweep. You will have a lot more friends at the barn if you take some initiative and sweep regularly, plus it should inspire others to do the same.
8) Put the time in working out off of your horse. Exercising out of the saddle will transform you into a much stronger rider. Even if you only spend 20 minutes a day working out, it will make a difference in your riding.
9) Pick your horse’s hooves like it is your job in life. Pick your horse’s feet before you lead it out of its stall or paddock and after you are done riding. Keeping your horse’s hooves clean will prevent stone bruises and thrush. Plus it will also keep the barn aisle cleaner.
10) Frequently inspect your horses’ paddocks for any hazards. Spend the time walking around your horses’ paddocks at least once a week. Look for poisonous plants, damaged fencing and any other things that your horse could use to inflict self-harm. You never want to be in a position where you wish you‘d noticed something.
11) Know your horse’s legs better than the back of your hand. This way you will notice the slightest change that could mean something significant. Many tendon injuries do not present with any lameness, just a slight swelling, and some heat. Recognizing a soft tissue injury in its early stages will give your horse the best chance of making a full recovery.
12) Keep a written schedule of everything. Dedicate a calendar to your horsey life. Keep records of your horse’s training schedule, vaccinations, shoeing, etc. You can also keep track of event opening and closing dates, so you never miss out. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to simply write things down but it will keep you so much more organized.