I live in the Southeast, and in the last 8 months or so, I’ve said “it has to stop raining at some point, right?” more times than I can count. Seriously. In 2018 we saw record rainfall, with most places being at least a foot above average. Now, for the average rider who doesn’t have access to an covered ring, a few days off here and there is not the end of the world. Even myself, as a professional, likes to use a rain-day as an excuse to get caught up on laundry or Netflix. But when we are talking days or weeks of rain, closed rings, slick fields, and just miserable weather in general, we’ve had to get creative.
By nature I’m an eventer. It’s in our blood to suit up, get on, and get down to business, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. Let’s go through some tips and tricks to make the most of your damp weather riding.
There are multiple ways that wet weather adds safety concerns to barn life, most of which involve footing. The footing in the turn-out fields gets slick, which tends to make horses not move around as much, making for some frisky horses. The riding footing also becomes questionable, so sometimes your jump day make need to turn into a flat day, or even a flat day into a trail (or driveway!) hack day. Keep in mind, that lots of rain means the water table may be higher, making arena dry-times vary. This year in particular, I’ve seen multiple rings damaged to the base because of the consistent moisture, which can lead to a long term safety issue due to soft spots.
Protect Yourself and Your Horse
Wet-weather-friendly gear is paramount in making your rainy day at the barn more enjoyable. Let’s talk about some of the main considerations:
- Prepare your tack beforehand with standard care practices (regular cleaning and conditioning), and add an extra layer of glycerin or balm coating for protection
- Defend your horse with boots and a girth that offer anti-rub and anti-slip protection that won’t absorb water and become heavy.
- Shield yourself with the best rain protection available. The Coach Raincoat by Ovation, provides premium protection in and out of the saddle, featuring: lightweight fabric for comfort at any temperature; elastic leg straps to secure the coat while in the saddle; adjustable rear riding gusset, 2-way zipper, and pockets.
- Protect your feet while keeping them dry – because no one likes having soggy socks. The entire Mudster ™ line of boots from Ovation has you covered from the barn aisle (Barn Shoe and Barn Boot), to your schooling ride (Comfort Rider Boot), and even your show boots (with the Shoe & Boot Saver). They all provide grippy rubber soles to avoid slipping on the ground or in the stirrup, plus a soft and comfortable upper portion.
Now that we’ve covered some safety and protection measures… now what can you actually DO with your horse? Sometimes it takes some creative thinking, but there are so many ways you can improve your skills while your riding is limited.
- Work your walk – the walk is (in general) our most underdeveloped gate, so use this time to improve it. Focus on straightness, controlling the shoulders, controlling the haunches, and transitions (fast walk, slow walk, halts) – and you can do them all at once! (halt and walk while maintaining a leg yield, etc…)
- Pole PT – There are so many wonderful pole exercises to work on, which will improve not only your horses rideability, but also provide a little Physical Therapy. Raise some walk poles to work those stifles, work your leg yields over poles for some proprioception action, or get bendy with some turning exercises. A quick google search will give you ideas for days!
Now a gloomy day at the barn doesn’t seem so gloomy – since barn days are #AlwaysAmazing!