What is one positive thing you learned or experienced because of this COVID-19 pandemic?
One of the things that the COVID pandemic brought me is that I worked on ‘exercising’ Kyra consistently, 4 times a week a minimum of 30 minutes.
In March my barn manager followed all official guidelines even though we are a barn without stables (so we’re outside all the time) and only have 6 horses.
Anyway, one of the things was that I was only allowed to visit to Kyra 3 times a week and only for necessary care only. Luckily I could convinced her that Kyra needed at least 4 times a week exercise due to her health conditions.
We weren’t allowed to ride at that time, since horseback riding is a high risk sport. The guidelines were aimed to keep the strain on hospitals at a minimum. Although my barn manager offered to lunge Kyra for me, which was very lovely, I politely declined. I didn’t want to put Kyra through conventional R- training. I think lunging is very difficult physically and therefor very aversive for horses.
Kyra’s health condition
Kyra has EMS, which stands for Equine Metabolic Syndrome (diabetic type 2) and she stores fat very easily. Exercise is super important for her well being, even with almost no food she still can be overweight. Since the ‘wellbeing’ was the reason and we couldn’t just hang out with our horses anymore to keep barn visits to a minimum I started to focus on exercise.
Turning a Whoa horse into a Go horse with R+
Kyra didn’t like that at all in the beginning, being a more “whoa horse” then a “go horse”. but slowly I built our exercise regime up from 10 minutes of walk up to 30 minutes including trot and canter. She learned to love exercise!
That was something I did not anticipate! Of course she got stamina and that helped, but I also feel that moving became intrinsically reinforcing for her. Just like us, when we start out jogging: the first 10 times is hard, then we become used to the feeling and then we become addicted to the runners rush.
Now it’s your turn
Name one positive thing you’ve learned due to this pandemic. What is something good you’ve experienced during this pandemic that you wouldn’t have discovered without COVID-19?
Sandra Poppema, BSc
I teach horse people to connect with their horse in training, so they get results and the relationship they want with their beloved horse. Make training win-win!