Psychologists aren’t just horsing around: they actually put their faith in the lovely creatures. Horses are the perfect type of therapy due to their ability to reflect our emotions and bring relief from addiction and stress. Not only does equine therapy help release emotions, it also helps a person create a bond with something that can become a symbol of hope.
Horses immediately trigger strong emotions in humans, and, because they are attuned to body language and stiffness, they can sense what a person is facing and help further their recovery. Scientific research has been done regarding the effectiveness of equine therapy. It shows that horses actually change human brainwave patterns. When a person is near or on the horse, their brain waves become more centered and focused from natural empathy.
Many companies such as Lift Me Up use equine therapy to help calm people and help them stay focused on the present, rather than whatever problem they are facing outside the barn. Equine therapy can also be used to help slowly gain mobility without having to go to your physical therapist. Horses have a way of empowering people to try their best and work on their strengths and weaknesses in a stress-free environment.
The practice of using horses for medical issues isn’t new; in fact, it dates back to 600BC with the Greeks! Either way, scientists have medical proof that horses help relieve stress, and it seems that there is:
“Something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
Well, they’re really invaluable. Priceless. Irreplaceable. Exceptional. Whichever way you write it, volunteers keep eventing going. It would be literally impossible to run horse trials the way they are now without volunteers. For example, you need scribes and runners for dressage, jump crew and timers, cross country jump judges and timers, and that’s just the beginning.
I was inspired to write a little blog about and for volunteers by the USEA. The US Eventing Association has recently started a new Volunteer Incentive Program, or VIP for short (Apps in the Apple Store and Google Play). It’s a way for organizers of the horse trials to keep easy tracking of volunteer sign ups. I also believe there are certain “incentives” for the volunteers as well, although the information on that is lacking. Be sure to check the VIP site for updates! One of my favorite event hosts, Stone Gate Farm, is trying the program at their spring event, the Winona Horse Trials (Hanoverton, Ohio – Area VIII).
My hope is that it makes volunteering easier and incentivizes more people sign up to volunteer. Volunteering is an important way to give back to the eventing community. Not only is it a form of community service, it’s a fun way to get to know the rest of the eventers in your area. There are usually multiple events throughout the year, as well as smaller jumper or dressage shows, so there should be at least one you can volunteer at in the year for farms near you.
Here are a few things to remember about volunteers:
They are there all day: rain, sun, freezing cold, or sweating and hot.
Remember that volunteers aren’t just there for one ride. They are often outside all day, through all sorts of weather, doing jobs to make sure riders can get the best ride possible. Especially with cross country judges, who usually sit in isolated spots, giving a smile or a wave can make their day!
They are there to help you.
Volunteers are usually riders or family members of riders. They know what it’s like to be in the place of a rider – so, anything you need (that isn’t unauthorized assistance), volunteers will usually be happy to help!
They are committed to the sport of eventing.
If there is one way to tell if a person is committed to eventing, it’s volunteering. Like what I said before, volunteers are out all day to help you. They take time out of their days to volunteer so that you can ride.
So, smile, say hello, and volunteer if you can. Make sure to thank a volunteer the next time you’re at an event – they are there for you!
I am planning on vlogging my volunteer day at Winona Horse Trials on Sunday the 14th, so keep an eye out for that on my blog or YouTube channel!
We all know the time will come when we need to switch barns, but there are a few important questions to answer. When is the time right, what do we look for in a barn, and how do we tell our trainer and barn owner that we are leaving the barn?
Thinking about making that choice of moving barns from my experience, I’ve made a list of tips:
Don’t change barns because of one bad accident. Try it again, get comfortable!
Do change barns if there is poor or careless management
Do change barns if you feel that the trainer isn’t caring about you enough, or if they are no longer challenging you.
Do switch if there is a lot of barn drama, and you hate going to the barn.
Do switch if you feel like your horse isn’t getting the care that they need: This is your money after all!
If you do feel that you want to leave the barn, you need to grab a laptop and look up a few places and then call or email them to make an appointment with the trainer to talk to them in person. We live in a world where technology is so advanced now that you can go online, find the barn, see reviews of what others think of it, and see pictures or even videos of how the barn looks like.
When you go out to talk to the trainer, look at how the barn is – how far away is it from your house, is it clean, are the horses kept for, or are there any fences falling over? These are very important factors when looking at the barn.
When you talk to the trainer ask them how their lesson plan is, how many times a week their riders ride, what shows they go to (if you’re interested in showing), what type of footing they use, if the trainer shown in any competitions, is the trainer good with kids, and very important, talk to the people at the barn. Ask them if they like the barn, if the trainer is good – listen to their opinions of the barn.
If you have a horse, ask about the care: how many times a day do the stalls get cleaned, how often do they give hay to the horses, when do they feed the horses, and what is their turn out like?
When you go see the new barns, make a rating sheet. On a scale of one to ten, put down the barn, the trainer, location, horses, lesson costs, etc.
Ask if the trainer to do a trial lesson. See how the trainer is during the lesson: what kind of pointers do they give you, what does this instructor do differently than your current one, do they like teaching, and can you see if they have a passion for riding?
Take your time in making the choice; you don’t need to rush to make your decision. Make sure that you are happy and that all your needs are check off on your list.
So, you found the barn that you love, and you want to make the switch. How do you tell your trainer that you want to leave them?
Make sure you’re one hundred percent sure that you want to leave the barn for a good reason.
Write down why you’re going to leave. Try to gather all your thoughts and get a clear reason why you want to leave.
When you do sit down to talk to the owner/trainer make sure you’re very professional about it. Thank them for their time and their service and tell them why you are leaving.
Don’t feel guilty about leaving your barn. We live in a time where people are going to be changing barns, and it’s normal. Horseback riding is very expensive and you shouldn’t be throwing around your money at a place you don’t want to be at.
Don’t give a last-minute notice. Many contracts require a 30-day notice. If you do own a horse make sure you look at your contract and read it to see how much of a notice you need to give. Barn owners may not like it if you’re moving less than 30 days without notice.
Don’t burn any bridges. You might see this person again,
so make sure you’re professional, nice, and reasonable.
When you do leave the barn, don’t talk about them behind their back. Chances are they will find out what you are saying, as the horse community is a small one, and everyone knows everyone!
Changing barns can be a new and exciting experience. While it can be a stressful time, these tips will help to make it as smooth of a transition as possible, allowing you to focus on starting a better experience at the new barn!
As I may have said this before, a few weeks ago, after my lesson, I was cooling down Dexter, and all of a sudden he spooked and I was thrown off, hit my head on the wall and knocked unconscious for a few moments. (as what I was told as I can’t completely remember what had happened.) Luckily, I was wearing my helmet and my mom was there as well as my trainer. I was taken by ambulance over to the nearest hospital. I got a full work up and was fully conscious. Nothing was broken, but I did get a head CT that did show a very small brain bleed. I was also told a had a concussion. I had to stay in the ICU overnight so they could closely watch me. Later the next day I was transferred to the regular floor and got to go home the next day. I now have to get a follow up CT and was also told I couldn’t ride for three months. Sadly, I have many symptoms of post concussion syndrome as well as getting many flare-ups of my fibromyalgia. Last weekend I was feeling well enough to head to the barn! It was such a warm day (almost 70!) and I got to groom Mocha! Some of my favorite products I used on her was my Equine Organix waterless shampoo, Ecolicious Equestrian Moisture Manic mane and tail detangler, and The Herbal Horse Shine Bright! As you can see all products I use are all natural and won’t harm your horse! Mocha also got many delicious valentines day treats from Pony Riders Club Bakery! It felt so great to be back at the barn even though I couldn’t ride! Definitely lifted my spirits up after my accident!
Millbrook Leathers Brand, Alligator Accented Half Chaps. I actually purchased these before I started back riding last month. I was looking for a new pair since I knew I grew since summer 2015. I wasn’t looking to pay a ton on half chaps since they were just for school. I was on Instagram and I came across these adorable half chaps! So, I went to Millbrook’s website and there they were! For under $100! I ordered a size small and when they came I wanted to try them on, and boy! Were they a struggle! I need my mom to help zip them up! They looked amazing on me though! Luckily I found a trick! Take string or something to tie to your zipper to give you a better grip to zip them up! It definitely helped! They felt great after my first ride in them. The leather easily broke in. The thing is they have a stretch panel on them so they are able to custom fit to your leg! I was able to easily get them on after that first ride! Also, you can have them monogramed for extra! If they don’t have your size, Millbrook has an option for custom chaps as well! If you’re looking for a new pair of chaps I definitely recommend Millbrook’s half chaps! They look amazing plus the extreme affordability!
This past Saturday I had my usual lesson (which was great btw) on Dexter. When I was cooling off, Dexter spooked and darted and apparently I fell off and hit my head on the arena wall while doing so. I can’t really remember that part though, 911 was called and I was ambulanced to the local hospital. My body was fine, but sore and my head hurt like hell. I got a CT scan and the results showed a very tiny subdural brain bleed, plus a concussion. They admitted me overnight in the ICU and I got another CT in the morning and luckily the bleed has gotten better, but I had to stay another night (on the regular floor) due to my head pain and balance. I luckily got home early yesterday evening. Sadly, I was told I can’t ride for 3 months now and I have to go back in for another CT in three weeks. Overall I was lucky I had my helmet on and nothing worse had happened! Time to get a new helmet!