The weather has warmed up and I’m back to exercising with my horse. This means I head out on foot and lead my mare, Extra, walking and jogging around the neighbourhood.
Leading Extra on the local streets can come with its share of challenges. The other day she stopped and gawked at a goat that was standing on his hind legs, eating leaves from a tree. He was an unusual sight, like Pan of the forest. I reassured her that the goat and his wooly sheep friends were all grass eaters and meant no harm.
Extra held her head high and circled me a couple of times. She let out a few loud dragon snorts that let me know she cared little for what I had to say. She was determined to return home.
Just as I convinced Extra the sheep and goat were not dangerous, the Galloway cows came bucking and galloping towards the fence from the pasture directly across the street. (Galloways are especially hairy. They are black and white in colour. Around here people just call them “Oreo cows.”) We were under siege from every local ruminant!
A car came at the same time, but slowed to a crawl and passed politely as I maneuvered Extra through the critter gauntlet.
I decided not to proceed to the miniature donkey obstacle 100 feet further down the road and selected the community hall short cut instead. I grazed Extra on the lush grass until our heart rates came down. The rest of the trip was uneventful.
That story aside…I’m going to suggest you try exercising with your horse.
There are many benefits to leading your horse around the neighbourhood:
- Both of you will get fit and healthy!
- Accustom your horse to unusual sites…like two legged goats and oreo cows.
- Build your horse’s confidence in leaving her home and/or companions
- Practice your leading skills
- School your young horse that isn’t trained under saddle yet
- Spend quality time with your horse covering ground
- Develop your leadership
There are some important prerequisites to taking your horse for a run off your property.
Your horse must lead safely on a rope. That means he will stop and go when asked, doesn’t pull, and will not charge past you or crowd you. He’s also attentive at home and is accustomed to looking to you for direction. This way if you stumble across something unfamiliar on the trail or road you can negotiate your way through the situation.
Wear comfortable shoes. This might seem unusual since we usually wear boots around horses, but riding boots are not made for jogging and your blistered feet will never want to exercise again.
Even if you ride around your neighbourhood regularly it can still be a great bonding experience for you to walk or jog side by side with your horse.
How do you keep fit? Have you tried taking your horse around your neighbourhood and how does he/she respond?