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Horse Activities for When You are Without a Horse

Updated: Apr 3



 

Are you a horse lover and/or equestrian who currently finds yourself without a horse or without access to lessons or typical equestrian activities? Or are you just unable to get out to the barn as much as you'd like at the moment? There are a myriad of reasons why you may not be able to ride or even physically be around horses, but don’t let that stifle your passion for these wonderful creatures! I am here to offer you some out of the box ideas to help you stay in touch with your innate horse loving essence.


I am a unique example of an equine professional because I don’t currently have any personal horses, and my roles within the industry shift and evolve and I often find myself experiencing periods of time when I am not in direct physical contact with horses. And make no mistake about it, these times can be rough! But instead of allowing my equestrian lifestyle to fade into a fond memory, I have found ways to stay connected despite physical separation. This past winter has been one of these times of separation from barn, ranch, and horse for me, and so this one goes out to all of my fellow horse folk who are feeling the horse-less human blues right now. Even if you do have horses or access to riding, sometimes winter comes as a natural break or lull in the typical activities, so this article is for you too. So check it out and see if any these ideas resonate with you.


 

Study Anything and Everything you can about Horses!


I have said it before and I will say it again! Study study study! There is sooo much to know about Equus Caballus and the accompanying realms of equine activity whether it be professional, recreational, academic, or vocational.


Even if you think you have learned all you have to learn in your area of expertise, well to put it simply, you haven’t. There is new information coming to light constantly and any expert knows the importance of staying up to date. Also, you may be starting to pick up on the fact that I am all about the inter-connectivitey of all things. And so, once you become well versed in one area of horsemanship or hippology, then check out a new area and see if you can make any connections that could lead to further insights.


This includes areas of study that may seem outside the realm of horses altogether. Take psychology for example. The more you understand human psychology, the more you understand how and why people act the way they do, not only in their daily lives, but also when working with horses. You will also then become more knowledgeable about mammalian psychology in general, which can then be applied to horses. Or what about environmentalism and climate change? What role do horses play in these areas? You may be surprised at the connections you find. These are just a couple examples but, as an exercise consider other areas of your life that you are knowledgeable in and see if any of this knowledge could be positively applied to your understanding of horsemanship or of equines in general.


I am all about advocating for the welfare of equines and finding ways to help our beloved horse partners thrive in a man-made world. So, some specific areas of study that I feel are beneficial to the cause are:


  • Equine sciences such as -  psychology, biology, anatomy, physiology, behaviorism, herd dynamics, biomechanics, etc.  


  • Breeds, colors, and classifications of equines

  • Wild mustangs – their history, how they exist today and their relationship to the land and ecosystems, and the plight of the mustangs who are rounded up.

  • Horse training philosophy – classical and traditional schools of thought vs. more modern approaches such as natural horsemanship, different disciplines and the ethos of each, learning theories, etc.

  • The history of Equus Caballos


I could go on, but that’s quite the list as it is. And what’s the point of gaining this knowledge, you ask? Well, the possibilities are endless. But once you begin to educate yourself on these topics you can also familiarize yourself with different aspects of the equine industry and general practices. Consider if the status quo of the cultures within the industry aligns with the knowledge of the equine sciences and philosophies that you have been studying.


Are there areas that seem to be taken for granted as unquestionable simply because they have been practiced for so long? Do the facets of the equine industry readily accept and seek out emerging information? Are there discrepancies and could you see yourself possibly becoming a knowledgeable source of information to help remedy these discrepancies? Just sayin…you don’t have to be a horse owner to play a significant role within the horse world. In fact, the horses of this world just might need you and your non horse owning time freedom more than you realize.


Or maybe all of this research will inspire a new career path for you. You could take the suggestion of educating yourself to the next level and consider enrolling in a course of study at university or in one of the many available online courses. Or maybe you could find a professional to intern with or become a working student for.



Enjoy and Create Equine Art


Ok this one may not be what you typically think of as an equestrian activity, but hey I told ya I was going to offer some out of the box ideas right!? And not surprisingly seeing as I am an artist, it is one of my favorites.


This is the area that I spend most of my time in when I am not able to physically be around horses. If you aren’t inclined to draw, paint, or create art of any kind, you can still enjoy art created by others! And luckily many artists seem to be as enamored by equines as we are, so there is a ton of equine art out there! You could start by taking this as an opportunity to learn a bit of art history and focus on equine art throughout history. There is quite a lot.


I suggest this because I myself am currently very curious about this subject. Since I am an equine artist I naturally am interested in past artists who have been inspired by muses of the same sort, but I feel that all equestrians have something to gain by studying this area. If you do a quick search of equine artists throughout history, and discover a few that you like, this may offer a door into further realms of knowledge such as what the horsemanship of that time period was like or the role horses played in society at that time.


Other areas to consider are things such as how the horses are rendered in the art and what that says about how people at the time viewed them. Consider things like how the anatomy of the horse is captured or even the typical body language portrayed by the horses in the images. Of course, there are plenty of contemporary equine artists doing great work as well! And yes, I am going to take this opportunity to shamelessly self-promote myself now, because not only am I an equine artist, but I am an artist with a cause. I create art inspired by equines with the intention to highlight all the wonderful things and beauty that horses have to offer us! My art is intended to act as a beacon to illuminate compassion for these animals and to inspire people to consider their perspectives on the horse human dynamic. If any of this interests you, take a look through the rest of my site. I have a gallery page, as well as the shop which offers art prints, art cards, and more! If you want to stay up to date with current works and other updates then sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date and be the first to see works in progress and even specials that I offer!


Lastly, if you are so inclined, then you can take the art inspiration to the next level and actually create art inspired by horses yourself! This is such a great way to indulge yourself in a horse centric activity even when you don’t actually have a horse to work with. Drawing horses can act as tool to help you understand equine anatomy better, or as a visual aid to help illustrate certain horsemanship concepts such as different gaits, conformation, or true collection. It’s true! Sometimes I sketch horses just to visualize the biomechanics of how they carry themselves and what I am asking them to do under saddle or when doing groundwork. It really helps me make connections to horsemanship concepts that may initially seem abstract. But maybe you feel like your drawing skills aren't quite at the level to work in such a realistically accurate style, and that’s totally ok too! Go ahead and get creative! Abstract or stylized art is a wonderful way to express yourself and your love for horses too. You can work from your imagination, from photo reference, or maybe you could reach out to your local horse community and see if anyone is willing to let you draw or paint their horse in person as a life drawing!


 

Spectate Clinics and Events


Searching the web or browsing your local library for educational resources is one way to get your horsey fix and gain some knowledge. But maybe you need something a little more experiential.


Well, another great way to stay involved with horses and within the horse world is to spectate clinics and equine events. If you thought that in order to attend a horsemanship clinic that you had to actually own a horse and actively participate, think again! Most clinicians allow spectators to be present for their events typically for a small fee and sometimes even for free. So, if there is a trainer you really admire, check out their website to see if and when they will be presenting at clinics. Then mark those dates on your calendar!


Spectating is a great way to learn new things from real life experience. It’s great because the people who are participating in the clinic with their horses are usually everyday horse people like you and me, and naturally encounter common challenges that you are likely to relate to from your own experiences. Even if you aren’t currently riding or working with horses, you can still glean valuable knowledge that you can draw from in the future.


These events will also allow you the simple pleasures of being around horses, such as a full day spent outside or in a barn/arena, the lovely aromas that only true horse lovers tend to appreciate 😉, and the chance to be in the presence of horses and admire their beauty in person.



Volunteer at Local Barns and Rescues


And if spectating still isn’t experiential enough for you, then I’ll do ya one better! If you really need your horsey fix, then go out and volunteer at a local rescue. This is truly one of the best things you can do and will benefit all involved. There is a never ending list of chores to be done at any barn or ranch, and rescues especially tend to have their plates extra full as there are so many animals with special needs to be attended to.


On top of that, most rescues operate as non-profits and rely on the generosity of their community to contribute to day to day tasks to keep things running smoothly. And while to those who have not been infected by the horse bug, mucking stalls and cleaning water troughs may not be the most appealing, but to those of us who can’t shake the need for horses in our lives, these chores are well worth it! Yes, you will have to work hard, but you will also get to spend time with horses. The interactions you will have with the horses will be especially meaningful too, since the equines that find themselves at these facilities are the ones who will be needing love and compassion the most to aid in their recoveries.



Get Involved in Local and Online Equestrian Communities


In addition to volunteering at local rescues, you could venture out to discover other equestrians within your local community as well. A quick google search will show you a list of lesson barns in the area and these types of facilities are generally open to the public and would likely be happy to meet you and show you around.


Of course, you will want to be respectful of everyone’s time and the fact that lesson barns are a business. But if you have any interest in taking lessons or even potentially leasing a horse, this is a great way to see what is available. If lessons aren’t quite in your budget at the moment, you could take this opportunity to see if there is any potential to do some work around the barn in exchange for lessons.


Or, if you are a capable horsewoman or horseman, you may want to ask if anyone at the barn has a horse who needs exercise or enrichment, but whose owner doesn’t have the time at the moment to provide themselves. This is just a great networking opportunity in general, especially if you have already taken the plunge into the equine study realm, then you could also potentially offer something new to the community.


There are also tons of wonderful and welcoming online communities of like minded equestrians too. Joining groups on social media platforms is a great way to find people who are on a similar horse journey as you are. It's a good way to find out about events that may be happening in your area too.



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