It’s that time of year again. The temperatures are dropping for some, and competition season is wrapped up for the next few months. But just because you don’t have a competition to prepare for, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have something exciting to look forward to with your horse!
The holidays are a great time to spend unique downtime with your horse and get in some much-needed bonding. Your horse will appreciate the extra attention (and treats) and your relationship with your horse will benefit from it as well – both in and out of the saddle.
Here are a few unique things that you can do with your horse, and your fellow barn mates, to make this holiday season with your horse fun and memorable too.
Who says holiday baking is just for humans? If you’re trapped in the house due to inclement weather, some pre-baking for the next time you can get out to the barn is a great indoor activity that your horse will eventually thank you for! Home-baked horse cookies are not only more cost-effective than store-bought treats, but they are a healthier option too. There are many DIY recipes for horse cookies out there, and some really cute horse-themed shapes for cookie cutters. So, pick a flavor you know your horse will love and spend some good time in the kitchen!
Holiday-Themed Photo Shoot
This one is a classic. Who doesn’t love dressing their horse up in a bunch of cute costumes and taking way too many pictures of them? And who said holiday cards shouldn’t also include your equine best friend?
Stuff your pockets with some of the special holiday-horse cookies you made for them (for bribery, of course!) and it will be a fun experience for you both. Getting your barn mates together on photoshoot day can make this holiday horse activity even that much more fun. Plus, it’s nice to have an extra set of hands for trading off being a photographer and model, or, to ensure your horse puts their ears up in at least one photo.
Horse-Themed Holiday Yoga & Carrot Stretches
This is another activity that’s even more fun when you can get a group of your barn mates together for it, but it can easily be done solo too. Grab your portable speaker, turn on your favorite holiday tunes, and get stretching! Do some research beforehand and jot down some yoga stretches and horse stretches that would be barn or arena-friendly. Carrot stretches (or holiday horse cookie stretches) for your horse– and yoga for you– are also a great substitute on days when it’s a little too cold to ride.
Secret Santa Exchange for Horse People
Is it just us, or does half your Christmas wish list seem to be gifts that are for your horse?
If you planned on giving gifts to your favorite barn mates or horse-loving friends, try doing a horsey-themed Secret Santa this year instead. Treating each other to riding gear, grooming supplies, treats, and supplements is a fun way to spread some holiday cheer.
It’s a fun pre-holiday barn day activity, and you can get your horses involved in the process by letting them “help” unwrap the goodies. Just make sure you sneak some special treats in the wrapping for them too!
Horse Body Clipping Holiday Party
For those in colder areas with horses who turn into woolly mammoths the moment the temperature drops, the dreaded day of body clipping is just around the corner. Most of the time this tends to fall right around the holiday season anyway.
Let’s face it – body clipping can be a chore. But maybe this year, you could spice things up and make it festive.
This is yet another great one for gathering up fellow horse friends and barn mates who also need to clip their horses. Crank those upbeat holiday tunes, prep a thermos of your favorite hot holiday beverages, make some holiday-themed snacks for you and your horse, and throw a holiday body-clipping party!
Odds are it will be way more fun than your regularly scheduled body clipping session, and your horse will probably enjoy it a lot more too.
Holiday-Themed Riding Competition
Just because show season is over, it doesn’t mean you have to hang up your competition hat!
A holiday-themed riding competition is a great way to work on your riding while having a little competitive motivation. This can work for any discipline. The goal is to pick the holiday song of your choice and create some riding choreography to go along with it. If you’ve ever watched freestyle dressage set to music, freestyle reining, or the Retired Racehorse Project’s Freestyle competition, you can get some inspiration for how to create a ride set to music. It’s a great way to work on certain movements under saddle, bond with your horse, and create holiday-season riding goals.
If your horse is somewhere with other riders, such as a boarding barn, this is an easy activity to plan. Or of course, you could also invite friends to trailer to your barn on competition day!
More Horse Treats (in the form of Christmas leftovers)
Don’t toss those candy canes hanging on your tree just yet! Your horse will thank you later.
Most of your Christmas dinner leftovers won’t be horse-safe, but a few items will be. If you plan ahead while cooking, set aside a few carrots, rutabaga, or parsnips for your horse before smothering them in sauces.
Hopefully, these holiday horse-themed ideas help get you back in the barn on cold days and have you feeling a little extra festive this season!