The twelve tips of Christmas

As this extraordinary and hugely challenging year 2020, draws to a close I thought I would end it on a positive note as we are hopefully in the beginning of the end of the restrictions we have all been under. I know a lot of people have lost family members and friends, or suffered from the strain of not being able to visit sick relatives and friends in hospital. I think it is important for us all to stay positive where and when we can and help those around us who are are not in a position to.

Hopefully we can get rolling in 2021 and here are my 12 tips of Christmas for you all and your riders.

1. Take this unique opportunity to reflect and focus on what it is you truly value about horses and what you have missed. These are the things that mean the most to us and in spite of all the challenges are what you should set your plan for 2021 around. We will probably never have an opportunity to re evaluate like this again.

2. Sweat the big stuff. Ok what does that mean. Basically try to cut out the small things that do not matter that are maybe niggling you and bringing you down or might have done in the past. None of us are perfect, do not be too hard on yourself, having all the gear might not make you as happy as you think, maybe just being with your horse has maybe become a new and meaningful way to spend time, so if it is just do it. Find some time for yourself and do not feel guilty.

3. Is your fitness to ride at the level you wish to ride at good enough ?... I know how important this is going forward, for example, if you need to work on your core strength, this can be done at home and a good instructor will help also you achieve this in the saddle and explain how to use it when you are riding. Ankle stretches when done right can help riding posture enormously too in a subtle way, try it out.

4. Have you kept your horses as fit as you want them to during the lockdowns ? It will be very important that when you resume more athletic riding in the Spring of 2021 that your horses do not pick up small injuries as a result of poor preparation. Leg stretches for your horses can be invaluable in avoiding injuries and are simple to do, there is a lot of advice online about this. Flex your horses hocks regularly.

5. If possible do some road work or riding on a firm surface. A lot of horses and ponies will now have softer tendons and ligaments due to any inactivity they have had. Check out some training rout