How to avoid accidents from happening when bringing horses back into work
Last weekend, me and my UK polocrosse team mates paid a two-day visit to Zambia to play the number-two world-ranked team, as a warm up to the Adina Polocrosse World Cup, which is being held in Australia in a month. Having only been to played “arena” polocrosse during the winter, we were eager to get some competitive chukkas, but getting off the plane, straight onto an unknown horse, and lining up against a world-class team was a bit of a shock to the system! We got sharper and more competitive over the the games we played so far, and were able to put some tactics and ideas. I definitely want to come back for a more relaed visit to this beautiful country and experience a fishing trip on the Zambezi River because the Zambians were extravagent hosts.
The countdown to the Adina Polocrosse World Cup has literally started, and these matches have got me fired up for the event, where we play the current World Champions South Africa, New Zealand and Ireland, in the group stages. In 2015, I took a role as player-coach and we finished as a highly creditable fourth, so it would be fantastic to finish in the top three in the last phases of my international career.
These final arrangements are all coming at a time when we are the busiest on the yard with call-outs, as spring brings riders out of the woodwork and can also flare up a personality transformation to some horses!
My March webinar for Your Horsemanship members, was based upon how to get your horse back “up and running” after the winter time, especially when ou take them to their first event of the year.
I always advise people to take their horse in to work, which should be progressive; start with what they are the most comfortable at, before going on. For example, two of my horses are more reliable, and less likely to have an “explosion” compared to the other ones, if they are taken straight out hacking round the roads after a break. But for many riders, they would feel more comfortable if they had their first few rides in a fenced arena. Horses love routine, so repeating exercises in the arena, or a certain hacking circuit, for the first few rides can work wonders for calming them down.
When it comes to taking them out for their first outing of the year, the most simple advice I can give is “LEAVE MORE TIME THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED!” Taking the time burden away gives you one less thing concern, and you can control it. If your horse does come off the box excited and on his toes, which means you have time to spread out the circumstance and get him in a better mind structure before you compete.
Following on from the same theme, we have just ended our first hacking camp of the year, where 10 participants dealt with issues with their horses’ behaviour, and their own confidence when out hacking. The development led to a hack down the local lanes to have a picnic at a neighbouring farm. Although some approached the outing with dismay, the sun behind us, the amazing countryside and the spring lambs tumbling playfully in the fields couldn’t fail to calm down the riders and they all came back with a real sense of attainment. Practice makes perfect, so hopefully, this is the beginning of the riders being able to take pleasure in analizing their local environments on horseback.