How to Practice Constructive Social Distancing

There have been many mixed feelings about the current pandemic, canceling of horse shows and closing of businesses and schools.

Don’t let social distancing get you down, though!  Here’s my list of activities to help keep you sharp and ready for when horse show season re-starts.

Practice walking strides.  Ever wonder what those jumper riders are doing when they’re walking courses? They’re planning their paths but also walking to see how many strides are in a line. Is it a long four-stride, or does it ride a little short? A great way to get started is to learn what a three-foot step is. Find a 12-foot pole or piece of lumber in your backyard, and try to walk four even steps down its length. Do this until you’re able to walk a perfect three-foot step. The next time you walk lines, you’ll accurately measure the four steps within a horse’s 12-foot canter stride.

Practice tying a stock tie.  This one is for you: eventers, fox hunters and dressage riders. A lot of time is spent tying your stock tie just right. Now is the perfect time to practice. There are several different techniques, so hit YouTube and try a few styles to see what looks and works best with your ties!

Practicing with my Stockbubble tie. Photo by Amanda Cousins.

Have a mock horse show.  In lessons, you generally have four or five times that you get to ride a course or line – so you can get it just right. Much of the time, you’ve ridden that same course for a few weeks. Set up a new course in the ring, and treat it like a horse show. If you’re a jumper, have a friend time you on your phone and include a mock jump-off. If you’re a hunter rider, practice nailing the course on your first round and then doing a different second course, like you’d do in a division. If dressage is more your speed, use poles to set a mock dressage ring and practice your tests. Horse shows will be up and running before you know it!

Practice braiding.  Professional braiders are some of the most loved at horse shows. They give our horses that final touch to make them look not only presentable in the ring but also beautiful. Braiding can be expensive, however.  Use this downtime to practice your skills.  Some day soon, you can save yourself some money by braiding yourself. Better yet, get really good, and your friends will start paying you to braid their horses. It’s a great way to pay for horse show entries.

Photo courtesy of and featuring Blue Ribbon Braiding.

Take a field trip.  Just because horse shows are shut down and suggestions have been made to avoid crowds, doesn’t mean you can’t hit the road. Many show venues are still open for schooling so they can still generate income. If you don’t have a venue nearby, ask a friend if you can pay to use their ring.  You can still get away from home.  The best field trip I could suggest, though, would be attending a lesson away from home. You’re saving money on show fees, so spend that on you and your partner’s education!

No matter what activity you choose, remember that regardless of what’s happening in the world, your equine partner is there to help you forget it all, even if just for a short while.

Go Jumping!