Spring is coming!
Even though we are having to deal with our last minute snow storm, winter is almost over. It’s time to shake off those winter doldrums and get ready for spring – gorgeous weather, happy horses, longer days, and horse shows. We probably have all already forgotten our New Year’s resolutions, but here are some general housekeeping tasks that you can do as winter comes to an end, to start your spring off right:
1) Clean. Clean everything! Take everything our of your trunk/car/closet and scrub it down. Throw away anything that needs to go and check expiration dates on medication. Look through your first aid kit and update it as necessary. Pull your summer riding gear out of the closet in hopes that you can use it soon! And when the weather gets warm enough, the horses can get baths, too.
2) Check helmet manufacturing dates. Most helmet manufacturer’s recommend that you replace their helmets every 3 years, as the foam inside becomes compacted over time and is less protective. Your head is important! If you or your child’s helmet is past the recommended manufacturing date, make plans to replace it as soon as possible.
3) Oil/condition your saddle and bridle; take apart and switch your stirrup leathers. Most of us are pretty good about wiping down our bridle and saddle every time we ride, but they also need to be deep cleaned several times a year, and now is the perfect time to do it! Take your bridle completely apart and use neatsfoot oil and conditioner on it. If you don’t know how, just ask. If you ride the lesson horses, and you have some time to spare, ask if they need their bridles done, too. If your saddle is dry or cracking, oil it before you condition; if it is newer and the oil coat is still good, you can just condition the places that need touching up. When in doubt, look up the manufacturer’s instructions for your saddle. You should also switch your stirrup leathers to the opposite side of the saddle every other month or so. Most of us press harder on one stirrup than the other and stretch out that stirrup leather more quickly. Switching the stirrup leathers will help them wear evenly. For more winter tack care suggestions, click here.
4) Renew memberships in our sports governing bodies or join for the first time. The United States Equestrian Federation and United States Hunter Jumper Association help govern our sport on the national and international level, enforcing rules, developing young riders and horses, supporting research, and providing competition opportunities. They also lobby for legislation to support the growth of the horse industry. For those that are not competing at the rated level, the USEF non-competing membership also includes discounts at SmartPak and other stores and comes with free personal liability insurance for you and your horse – well worth the money. The West TN HJA is our local chapter of the USHJA, and we also encourage you to support them by joining. They offer us fabulous showing opportunities throughout the year, as well as educational opportunities and scholarships. PATH Int’l. is the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, the certifying organization for equine assisted activities and therapies in this country.
5) Ride more! Enjoy the weather and get out there and ride!