Making Quality Time with Your Horse a Priority in the New Year (And How Paddock Blade Can Help!)

Making Quality Time with Your Horse a Priority in the New Year (And How Paddock Blade Can Help!)

Making Quality Time with Your Horse a Priority in the New Year (And How Paddock Blade Can Help!)

There's nothing quite like the feeling of ringing in a new year. It brings a sense of refreshment and, for many, excitement about the possibilities a brand-new year holds. The holidays are undeniably busy, but a new year brings the chance to slow down and refocus your priorities. 

For many horse owners, this can (and should) mean reevaluating your relationship with your horse or horses. Whether you have horses on your property or board at a local stable, spending quality time can be challenging, but believe me, it's always worth it.

I lost my heart horse this year, and I can tell you, the hours I spent in her stall and bonding with her on the ground mean more to me than our rides together (though I miss those terribly, too). If you can't ride or just plain don't want to, please remember, it's the showing up that counts. 


In this post, I'd like to discuss why prioritizing time with your ponies is essential. I'll include how to reconnect with your passion because, let's face it, sometimes it gets lost underneath piles of endless barn chores. 

We'll talk about tips and tricks to clear your schedule and tools to help you get things done faster so you have more time for what matters. 

Let's get started!

Why Prioritize Quality Time with Your Horse?

I'm going to say this loud enough for everybody in the back. Riding should not be the only activity you do with your horse. Quality time does not have to include riding at all. Don't get me wrong, I love to ride, but it's not how I form a bond or connection. 

Here's what quality time will do for you and your favorite equine:


Strengthen Your Bond

Spending time with your horse outside of riding builds a stronger emotional connection. Trust and understanding between you and your horse is essential for a true partnership. So much of this happens on the ground. 

Unless we're dealing with a "spooky corner" in the arena or deer on a trail ride, we tend to forget that horses are inherently cautious (prey) animals. Trust will be fundamental to your relationship. Always put companionship before the show ring. 

Promote Physical and Mental Health

Non-riding activities such as grooming and stretches improve your horse's overall well-being. Grooming helps maintain their coat and skin health, while stretches can improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.

Spending time together without expecting anything of them other than company is a fantastic way to bond. Plus, consistent grooming allows you to feel changes in their bodies, like bumps and bruises or heat in the legs. It's a great way to keep on top of how they're feeling, physically and mentally. 

Improve Communication

Making Quality Time with Your Horse a Priority in the New Year (And How Paddock Blade Can Help!)

Groundwork exercises enhance your ability to communicate with your horse effectively. These exercises can lead to better obedience, respect, and responsiveness. Even if you've had your horse for a long time, it always helps to return to the basics. Here are some simple but effective exercises:

Leading: Teach your horse to walk beside you relaxed, responding to your cues to stop, start, and turn.

Halting and Backing Up: Practice getting your horse to stop promptly and back up when asked to improve responsiveness.

Yielding in the Front: Teach your horse to move its front end away from you with light pressure, which is helpful for control and maneuverability.

Yielding the Hindquarters: Similar to yielding in the front, but this time, your horse moves its hind end away from you.

Circling and Lunging: Teach your horse to move in a circle around you at various gaits (walk, trot, canter) while maintaining a consistent distance and speed.

Ground Tying: Train your horse to stand still in one place without being tied. Ground tying is helpful for grooming, tacking up, or any time you don't have a fence or pole!

Desensitization: Introduce your horse to various objects, sounds, and sensations to help them become less reactive and more confident, but do so kindly without flooding or causing intentional fear. 

Obstacle Courses: Set up a course with various obstacles like poles, cones, and barrels. Guide your horse through the course, teaching them to navigate different challenges and movements.

Sidepassing: Teach your horse to move sideways, which helps when opening gates or maneuvering in tight spaces.

Ground Poles: Work on walking or trotting your horse over ground poles to improve balance, coordination, and rhythm.

Desensitization to Tack: Help your horse get comfortable with saddles, bridles, and other tack items by introducing them slowly and gently. 

Groundwork with Flags or Whips: Gently utilize flags or dressage whips to guide your horse through various movements and patterns.

Desensitization to Sounds: Introduce your horse to different sounds, such as clippers, plastic bags, or loud noises, to reduce spookiness and help them become more comfortable in every situation.

Backing Through Gates: Teach your horse to back through gates or narrow spaces to improve their maneuverability and willingness to follow cues.

Teaching Ground Manners: Work on behaviors such as standing quietly while tied, picking up feet for cleaning, or patience during grooming.

Transitions: Practice smooth transitions between gaits while leading or lunging to improve your horse's balance and your communication.

Desensitization to Touch: Get your horse used to being touched all over their body, including sensitive areas like ears, legs, and belly.

Focus and Attention Exercises: Engage your horse's mind with exercises that require them to pay attention to your cues and respond promptly.

Before you practice any exercises, make sure you consider your horses’ ability and any existing issues like arthritis or Navicular Syndrome. These things can make a difference in which exercises you choose!

Rekindling Your Love for Horses

Making Quality Time with Your Horse a Priority in the New Year (And How Paddock Blade Can Help!)

Horses are a lot of work - mentally and physically. Sometimes, getting up and going to the barn can be a challenge, especially if you're not in the mood. We've all been there. 

Making barn time a priority is sometimes a struggle, and I find these things can help:

Reflect on Your Journey

Take a moment to reminisce about your horse-related experiences. Recall the moments that made you fall in love with horses in the first place. Read books, look at photos, or watch a show. Nothing puts me in the mood for the barn like a Heartland binge. 

Set Personal Goals

Establish realistic goals for yourself and your horse in the coming year. Whether mastering a new skill, achieving a specific riding milestone, or simply spending more time together, having clear objectives can reignite your passion and give you some direction.

Keep a Journal

Document your daily interactions with your horse, noting any positive experiences or breakthroughs. Journaling can help you appreciate the small, meaningful moments; you'll find so many of them if you pay attention!

Tips and Tricks for More Quality Time

Making Quality Time with Your Horse a Priority in the New Year (And How Paddock Blade Can Help!)

Talking about finding more barn time is way easier than actually doing it. Now, let me help you find more time! 

Create a Schedule: Allocate specific time slots in your daily or weekly routine for your horse. Consistency is key to building a solid bond. Block out time in your schedule, and while it's okay to miss occasionally, hold yourself accountable and stick to it! The barn is like the gym. Sometimes, it's hard to go, but you're always happy you did!

Multitask: Combine activities when possible. While grooming or feeding, incorporate stretches or groundwork exercises to maximize your time. 

Set Boundaries for Yourself: Prioritize your horse's needs, but also establish boundaries to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Balance is key. 

Tools for Effective Time Management

Do you need help with time management? These tools can help!

Planners and Calendars

  • Paper Planner: A traditional paper planner can be an effective way to schedule your horse-related activities. It lets you jot down your daily or weekly plans, set goals, and track progress.
  • Digital Calendar: Use a digital calendar like Google or Apple to schedule horse-related tasks and set reminders. These calendars can sync across devices, making it easy to stay organized on the go!

Task Management Apps

  • Todoist: Todoist is a popular task management app that lets you create to-do lists, set deadlines, and prioritize tasks. You can create separate lists for your horse-related activities and keep them organized.
  • Trello: Trello is a visual collaboration tool that uses boards, lists, and cards to help you manage tasks. Create a Trello board specifically for your horse. Include goals and activities, grooming sessions, rides, and more!

Time Tracking Apps

  • Toggl: Toggl is a time-tracking app that can help you analyze how much time you spend on various activities, including your time at the farm. 

Stable Secretary is a fantastic app for barn managers that keeps you organized from all angles! Also, if you're primarily responsible for chores and keeping paddocks clean, Paddock Blade is the ultimate time-saver!

You'll be able to spend more time with your herd and less on manual labor.

Horse Care Apps

  • Equine Management Apps: Various apps are designed specifically for horse owners to manage care tasks, record health information, and track appointments. A couple of my favorites include EquiToolz and Horse Manager.
  • Training and Exercise Apps: Apps like EquiTrack or Horse Rider SOS can help you plan and track your horse's training sessions, exercises, and progress.
  • Strides: Strides is a goal-setting app that allows you to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals for your horse-related endeavors. It provides a structured approach to tracking and achieving your objectives.

Putting Quality Time First

Making Quality Time with Your Horse a Priority in the New Year (And How Paddock Blade Can Help!)

As we embark on a new year, let's commit to prioritizing quality time with our beloved horses. The benefits of a strong bond and improved communication for you and your horse are invaluable.

Remember, quality time involves riding, too. You don't have to get in the saddle to bond, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. 

Happy New Year!

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