Back to school blues…

As September is well underway this means one of two things; the children are officially back at school (small celebrations from my debit card!) and the weather is changing. Being parent to a pony mad child is tough enough. But given that I have spent the entire summer rolling out of bed at goodness knows what time to attend pony club rallies, camp and competitions along side local competitions as well, means that the school run is relatively easy in comparison. I think I am breathing a small sigh of relief (or it may be total exhaustion!).

However, the evenings closing in can mean back to school blues in more than one way. It is this time of year that a number of us horsey folk begin to be restricted to our arenas. Either indoor or outdoor. So what can we do to make schooling sessions more enjoyable now that our summer of fun has drawn to its inevitable end? I use the term ‘Summer of fun’ somewhat loosely here, “summer of never ending financial drain interspersed with bucket loads of washing, tack cleaning and unpaid grooom services ” is more accurate i believe.
Anyway…here are our top 3 ideas for shaking your ‘back to school’ing sessions up a little this Autumn;

1. Poles

using poles is universally beneficial as a gymnastic exercise for horse and rider. Polework clinics are the ‘fashionable’ go to right now and they seem to be springing up all over the place. But with good reason too. Polework encourages suppleness, flexion, rhythm and balance. It gives you the opportunity to work on straightness and you can be as creative as you like setting out ground exercises. It can be quite a fun way to achieve some really beneficial schooling results.

2. Cones

these are not just for bending in and out of, although this is also fun and beneficial as a warm up exercise too. Use cones to create a large triangle shape and ride exercises such as turn about the forehand as you progress round them. Set your cones on the quarter or three quarter lines and work leg yield exercises out to and in from the track. Set cones on various meter markers on a circle; e.g 5m, 10m and 20m. Leg yield in and out, ride contra bend or add in transitions on your circles.

3. No Stirrups

not for the faint hearted! Or, i might add, the permanently exhausted and unfit pony club mummy trying to reprise her youthful competitive rider within! However, this is actually great for rider improvement. You can work on position and balance in the saddle. It allows you to develop more feel for the horses way of going and improves your core strength. For younger riders, I always spend plenty of time working through stretch and warm up exercises. They find these great fun! Reach forward to touch your ponies ears, lift your legs up like a jockey or aeroplane arms are good examples.

It can always be difficult at this time of year, when the weather and the clocks change and our routines have to adapt quite literally overnight. As we head into the winter with the horses we all know it will get just that little bit harder to keep our riding up (who am i actually kidding, it will be a nightmare version of Disney’s Frozen without the singing and cute animals), but with our top 3 suggestions for schooling fun you may just make it to the end of October at least before you say sod it and give your horses that enforced break they oh so desperately need!

For all the other frazzled mummy’s of pony mad children, who can also be emotionally unstable (child I mean here not mummy!) I will leave this parting advice, some nights it just isn’t worth the stress of another schooling session. Give the pony a night off, stick a bottle of wine in the fridge to chill and take the children out for a burger! Tomorrow is another day! I think one always feels slightly more socially acceptable as an adult when sipping wine as opposed to gulping. In our household the equation goes; less stress = less gulping!
Right i’m now off to grab a glass, well it’s 5 o’clock somewhere…right?!!?!?!

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