Often when we discuss the progress of a horse, we’re likely to look at their weight gain/loss, fitness levels or their competition results. Whilst this does play a part in progress, I can’t help but feel that the happiness of a horse is often overlooked and perhaps not prioritised enough at times. How often do you stop to think if your horse is happier with that change in routine, new yard you’ve moved to or new discipline you’re venturing into? Perhaps they’re thriving and loving life more than ever, giving you the green light to continue.
Sometimes, things aren’t quite so simple though, and when we swap and change routines and various other activities it can take a while for horses to settle or begin enjoying themselves again. Being conscious of how happy your horse is can be a hugely beneficial insight into what is or isn’t working in your day to day routine and game plan for the foreseeable future.
For us, we consciously take the time to spend time with and know each one of our horses (slightly easier done in a way as we have three, a small enough number to divide attention well- I understand many equestrians are working with much lather numbers of horses) but it can also be tricky for us as they’re at a livery yard, so we’re unable to be with them 24/7, although do visit every day.
Knowing your happy horse comes with time, and can also help towards understanding any sudden character changes that could be a health warning sign, but also quite simply because it plays a big part in enjoying them not only for riding and competition purposes- but for being an animal too.
We like to let the horses enjoy summer in their paddocks during the day where possible with the British weather, and regularly take Spud (the Shetland pony) to the beach for a walk and visit local tourist attractions in our seaside town. For him- this is the highlight of his day, running up and down the beach, meeting children (and sometimes terrorising them) whilst also getting some well-needed exercise to try and burn off that extra sass he seems to develop!!
Spud also enjoys Global Herbs treats after his walks and loves them!
Next time you’re discussing the progress of your happy horse, keep their happiness in mind and use that as a good way to read how things are going- you’d be surprised at just how effective it is, and how many other areas it will cover.