Our sponsored rider, International dressage rider Amy Stovold has some great tips and advice for riders unable to ride or even visit their horses during lockdown to ensure that you stay fit and healthy and return to the saddle even better!
Acknowledge The Situation
It sounds strange, but often, to acknowledge something is the first step towards changing your approach. Given the situation, a lot of my clients are really struggling with not being able to see their horses. It is a harsh reality for many, but we all need to do our part in this crisis to keep everyone safe and well. Shifting your focus towards what you can do while not riding or seeing your horse is the next best step forward in the current crisis.
Work On Your Fitness
Many of you will be looking to return to riding after possibly weeks of sofa surfing. If you don't keep up your fitness and undertake some form of physical exercise, you will find riding again tough on your muscles! Going for a daily run and watching some YouTube Rider Fitness Videos will help keep you focused.
As equestrians, we aren't generally the best athletes when it comes to being mindful of our diets! (Our horses' diets are another matter!) but more than ever, keep an eye on your diet and try and eat as healthily as possible. Eating regular meals instead of snacking, eating fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables and avoiding fatty or sugary ladened foods will not only make you feel better but give you more energy for your daily exercise. Keep your focus on the long-term picture and try to develop new healthy eating habits that you will continue once the lockdown is over and life returns to normal.
Set Yourself A Fitness Goal
Set yourself small challenges. When I had time off tohave my baby, I had to start again with my fitness and building my core strength up from nothing! It was hard, but I was motivated because I couldn't wait to get back onboard my horses after my little girl was born. I also set myself small achievable fitness goals, e.g., an extra squat each day. Build up slowly to avoid injury and choose exercises that are focused on strengthening those key rider areas. Keep a diary and see the improvement on paper and then in time, in the saddle!
Knowledge Is Everything
NOW is the time to read up on a horsey subject that you never seemed to have time to do before. Take your equestrian expertise to a new level - whether its signing up for an equestrian E-course or reading content by an authority in that subject, you can use this time to expand on your knowledge.
As a young rider, I went through a real confidence crisis with my riding, and for many of my more nervous clients, they are worried about returning to riding after a long gap. From personal experience, I would suggest spending extra time on the ground around your horse before you get on board and use the time at home now to do some positive affirmations. Maybe you have a photograph or video of you riding your horse and enjoying that moment. If there is a particular photo that brings back a happy moment, where you felt confident and comfortable, reference that picture regularly. Close your eyes and remember that feeling at that moment in time: What did you feel? How was your riding? What did your horse feel like? Positive visualisation is a powerful tool so use it daily during the lockdown. Getting your trainer to help 'start your horse' again after a period off work could help your nerves.
Be Prepared To Take A Step Back
Depending on how long your horse has been off and his temperament, take a step back from where you left off before lockdown. If you need to spend time rebuilding your relationship on the ground for a while before you get back on board, then do so safely and only get back in the saddle when you both feel it’s the right time to do so. Grooming, leading and lunging your horse are great ways to re-establish a bond and regain your confidence in each other again. For many of us, this will be the longest time we have ever spent away from our horses, so take the time to reintroduce your horse back into work and to get your relationship back on track. Always put safety first and don't take risks. Asking your trainer to create a programme to help you both ease back into work is another fantastic idea, given that your trainer will already know you and your horse well. A great starting place for you both until such time when you can start having regular lessons again.