Friday, August 15, 2014

Dog Days of Summer: Break out the saddle without tanning your hide.

Photo By: Flickr User CountryDreaming

Summer is here and it's HOT HOT HOT! It's one thing to know how to take care of your horse in the heat - it's another thing to know how to ENJOY your horse in the heat. Here are five things you can do to enjoy your best friend when the mercury starts rising.

  1. Hot summer temperatures can curtail your riding; however, you can still find the opportunity to be in the saddle during cooler morning and early evening hours as the day’s heat fades away. A world of wonders await you as Mother Nature wakes up as you enjoy the morning tranquility or you ride into the colorful evening sunset, listening to the cacophony of tree frogs and peepers while keeping an eye open for deer coming out to graze at dusk. 
  2. No summer pleasure can surpass the opportunity to swim with your horse. It is an opportunity for both of you to have fun and cool off together. Horses are natural swimmers and most enjoy the chance for some water fun. If you don’t have a lake to swim in, great fun can be had riding down a creek. A word of warning: Never ride your horse into deep water if you use a tie down, running martingale, or any other device that limits his ability to raise his head. 
  3. Prepare cool summer treats for your horses by placing fruit slices (apples, pears, oranges), carrots, broccoli, and peppermint candies into gallon-sized ice cream pails filled with water and then frozen. Bring these fun treats out and pop them out of the pail and watch your horses have fun trying to lick down to the treats.  Better yet, put the frozen treats in their water trough and watch your horses “bob” for the treats. Guaranteed to provide you hours of fun, as you sit in the shade with a tall glass of iced tea.
  4. Design a competitive trail riding course and enjoy getting your horse used to the different elements along the course. Even an hour’s worth of riding the course is fun and much less strenuous for your horse than spending all day on a trail ride. You may find out he’s a natural, and the practice will pay off if you decide to participate in an organized competition. 
  5. If your horse is personable and calm, enlist his services (and yours) in a therapy program for developmentally-challenged children or adults. The light riding will not over tax your horse and the big “take away” will be the smiles you see when these special folks establish a bond with your horse. Summer months are the busiest of times for therapy programs, and willing volunteers and quiet horses are always welcomed to help out. 

You don’t have to lie under the porch during the dog days of summer. Get out and have some fun!

(by: Darlene M. Cox)

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