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Tips to Stay Horse Show Motivated During Quarantine

While the rest of the world is stuck inside, only leaving to get groceries or go on a walk, many equestrians are lucky. Some are still able to go to their barns on a limited basis, or even have their horses at home. But, instead of counting down the days to show season, it seems everyone is now to the point of looking for any sign of this isolation being over. In these times of uncertainty, it can be hard to find motivation without an end goal in sight.

“Everyone needs to take this time and slow down and enjoy what is good about life other than running down the roads to horse shows like we do,” Shannon Vroegh, of Show Horses By Shannon, said. “Take it in, do something different, and soon enough, we’ll be back doing all of that stuff again.”

With time off from work or school, taking this time to slow down, sharpen your skills, or pick up a new one, could be just the thing you need to be ready for show season. Here are a few ideas of how you can pass the time meaningfully with your horse.

Staying safe

First of all, prioritize slowing down the spread of COVID-19. If you are allowed to see your horse, do so responsibly. Follow CDC guidelines, stay six feet from others, cover your coughs and sneezes, and be sure to wash your hands…a lot.

Don’t rush 

Typically, riders only have a specific amount of time at the barn that they can squeeze in. But with many areas in lockdown, there is more than enough time.

“People always seemed very rushed with things before, saying, ‘Oh, I’ve only got an hour and a half after work or after school to work with my horse and go ride.’ Well, that’s been lifted for a lot of people,” Kelly Boles Chapman, of Chapman Horse & Livestock, said.

Change up your routine and take advantage of that extra time. Maybe even work your horse a couple of times a day.

“Work two to three times during the day, especially if your horse is at home,” Boles Chapman added. “Maybe work showmanship for 30 minutes in the morning or one part of the day. Work on things like brushing, there’s a lot of currying to be done right now. A little later in the day, go out again, so it’s not all smashed into those very structured times that we had before this.”

Focus on your foundation

Since shows aren’t approaching as fast as they usually do, work on your basics. Refresh your cues or sharpen skills like pivots and transitions.

“If anything, this time right now is a great time to go back to the basics, work on your foundation, work on your drills at home, because you can make mistakes, and you don’t have a show to go to next week,” Chelsea Carlson, of Red’s Show Horses, said. “I’ve taken that time with my clients and gone over their foundations and made sure they know them, rather than just patching it together for a horse show.”

Get involved in a virtual horse show 

If you’re looking for specific ways to improve, virtual horse shows are a great way to receive critiques. Virtual horse shows have been launched by many, including Charlie Cole and Horse Show Tracker and even local open show associations and large associations like APHA.

“There are so many different people competing in them from across the country, that it drives the competition up,” Carlson said.

Virtual horse shows are an especially good option if you’re struggling to find motivation without normal horse shows.

“People are working harder than they normally would at home,” Carlson said. “At a horse show, all eyes are on you for however long you’re out there alone, and it pushes you to be better. It’s kind of the same idea for the virtual horse show; you’re still putting it out there for people across the world to see.”

Try something new 

With horse shows in April being canceled, and those in May being closely monitored, there is plenty of time to pick up something new. Having extra time with your horse will allow you to focus on whatever you choose, whether it be a new skill or a new class.

“This is a great opportunity for us to teach,” Boles Chapman said. “Teach every horse you have in the barn, showmanship. It’s the time for slower-paced learning, where we can help solidify the basics of things.”

Maybe try out trail or western riding. There are so many possibilities and the time to try them is now.

Get ahead of the season

Usually, by now, people are scrambling to get things together for a big uptick in the show season. Unfortunately, that’s not the case now. But, use the extra time to get prepared.

“I always feel like I’m behind the eight ball at the beginning of the year, and being forced to stay home and not travel to a lot of horse shows, I’ve felt like I’ve caught up,” Vroegh said. “It has been so beneficial to my horses. All of my two-year-olds have gotten broke. I’ve just been using this time to get everything ready if they allow us to start going again.”

Keep your head up

While facing a pandemic was not what anyone was expecting, the reality is we have to deal with it.

“There’s a lot of news out there, and everyone’s on social media, but I’m just hoping everyone stays positive for the horse community in that sense, so we can get through this and get back on the road showing again,” Carlson said.

But, embracing this time as a chance to slow down could allow you to come back to the show ring stronger than ever when the time comes.

“The reality is, no one knows anything until the next couple weeks,” Boles Chapman said. “The fact is, we just don’t know yet. The organizations and everyone I know who puts on horse shows are working on contingency plans. Wanting to be ready for it, but also not being part of the rumors or everyone’s crystal ball. We just don’t know.”

For now, stay positive, stay practicing, and we will get through this.

About the Author – Olivia Bradish has been an equestrian for 13 years. She attends the University of Michigan, studying Political Science, as well as working for The Michigan Daily. Olivia shows the all-around events with her horse, CSR Roan Bar Penny, who is known around the barn as London. They enjoy showmanship, horsemanship, and trail the most.