Here in the Northeast they’re predicting another foot of snow, to fall tonight and into tomorrow…this is after two rather impressive “blizzards” and several days of negative temperatures that sent even the fuzziest ponies into their barns for an overcoat. Weather like this makes it hard to daydream about the first spring trail ride or the 2011 show season. In fact, it can make it darned difficult to feel “horsey” at all. So, here are seven super-fun ways TSB staff members keep their “horsey” blood pumping, even when it’s darned cold outside:
1 Of course, this is the obvious one–we READ about horses, and we read about them A LOT. There is a constant flow of magazine and newsletter material around the office, and we mark the articles or snippets we think interesting before passing them on. This is a great way for you and your barn mates to save money and stay in touch during the months when you might not spend as much time at the barn. Perhaps each person can invest in one magazine subscription, and then each week you can rotate magazines, creating a veritable “horse knowledge swap.” When everyone’s done, archive the magazines in the barn tack room–they make a great reference library.
2 Keeping with the reading theme, start a horsey book club. It is no secret that book clubs are extremely popular ways to get people together, drink some wine, and chat…and there’s no reason why that “chat” can’t be an opportunity to “talk horse.” While you can certainly read all manner of equine-related nonfiction material and then discuss it with your horse-minded friends, there is also a lot of fiction out there in which horses feature prominently. Make Great Books for Horse Lovers, a blog that posts regular book reviews (on all subjects–but especially horses) a favorite and visit it often for recommendations from other equestrian readers. The TSB Book Club pick of the month is WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS AND SO ARE THEIR HORSES by Menno Kalmann. Did you know laughter can warm the body? Well try it…and seriously, this book will crack you up.
3 Work on that bikini…er…slinky-body. Yes, it may be hard to believe when there’s a layer of ice on the water bucket in your horse’s stall and there’s just a big mountain of snow where your trailer used to be, but show season IS just around the corner. If you have your eye on a flashy new slinky show shirt or a fab new pair of britches, then you better turn your attention to the muffin-top hiding under the sweater you’ve had on since Thanksgiving. TSB knows that January is THE MONTH to resolve to get down to the serious business of serious fitness, so take advantage of our 15 % off all fitness books sale (until February 1). Also, for a few great exercises you can start using RIGHT NOW, check out our Staff Top Ten, chosen from our best fitness-related books.
4 Bake healthy horse treats. The oven’s warm, so you might as well get close to it. Bringing your horse a little something different when you visit the barn is sure to elicit an eager nicker, and when you make the treats, you know what’s in them…you can use all natural ingredients, and even stay organic if you want to, while catering to your four-legged friend’s sweet tooth. Here’s a super-easy (and healthy) recipe that I like:
Preheat oven to 350
1 cup bran cereal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
Spread in greased 9 x 9″ baking pan
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm to the touch
Cut in (small) square “chewies” and store in fridge (or in the snowbank outside your door)
5 Scan and organize your old horsey photos. Many of us started riding before everything “went digital,” so more than likely you, too, have a few albums or shoeboxes full of old print photographs depicting your early days of equestrian adventure. This time of year is a great time to archive your prints in a digital library, and this also allows you to share your past with your present friends via email, blogs, and Facebook. TSB author Denny Emerson regularly posts some of the fantastic photos from his private collection on his Facebook page (you can see more of them in his forthcoming book HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD), and TSB Managing Director Martha Cook just started to scan all hers…I love the picture of her “first show” because it reminds me so much of a very similar photo I have of MY first show…I’ll have to dig it out and scan it so we can compare.
6 Window shop. You may or may not have a horse of your own right now. Even if you do, you may dream of another, slightly different equine partner. The great thing about window shopping is it is budgetless…there is no end to what your fantasies can buy. So go wild. Online classified sites abound and often include photos and video, for further entertainment. My personal favorite window shopping site is New Vocations Racehorse Adoption, the site run by TSB author Anna Morgan Ford (check out her great book BEYOND THE TRACK). I visit it on a regular basis, allowing myself a few moments every so often to imagine an OTTB in my life. I think window shopping is a great impetus for setting financial and lifestyle goals–if you really want something, you’ll find a way to make it happen, and that process of change can be a very healthy one.
7 Play. It’s no secret that we get old, we get careers, we get burdened by responsibilities, and we forget what fun it can be to just PLAY. There are different ways to incorporate horseplay, specifically, into your winter. I think teaching your horse a few tricks to alleviate the indoor-ring doldrums can be a whole lot of fun for both of you (take a look at TRICK TRAINING FOR HORSES, just out this month). You can also play online–find a horse-friendly community (there are a lot of them now), create a page for you and/or your horse, deck it out in photos and your favorite trainer’s mottos, and find like-minded individuals with whom to communicate. Lately, I’ve been playing (for real) a lot of “horsey” with my son, Augustin. He got a cowboy hat and a hobby horse from Equine Affaire (MA), and he demands that I “saddle up,” too (sadly, my mount is usually an umbrella) and follow him along the trail, which tracks its way around the not-so-vast “grasslands” of a city apartment.
So, deep sigh, pretend you’re breathing in the warm scent of fresh-cut hay instead of the harsh smell of diesel from the snow blower, and pull a few minutes from your busy day to stay “horsey” in spirit. After all, your horse can’t wait for the sight of green grass, either.
Signing off for now,
Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor