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Groundwork activities for horses & ponies.

Girl in blue eventing hoodie walking her horse

As you may have guessed from our previously blogs, we use a lot of groundwork with our ponies. I find it really valuable to to teach manners, basic skills and to educate with new and scary things.

After our recent poll on instagram, it seems that you would all love a few more ideas for groundwork too.

So here are 5 more great ways to use groundwork with your horse or pony.

  1. Use poles. This can be done in hand or ridden. Scatter poles randomly where you are riding, get their brains working, use them to weave and snake around. Get them going over the poles at different angles, slightly raised and in different gaits, this helps with their co-ordination and balance. Simple activities like this gets them using their bodies in different ways, using their brains and becoming more aware of their own bodies and spacial awareness.
  2. Teach them touch. Teaching your horse or pony the command of touch through positive re-enforcement is a great way to build their confidence and curiosity. This was an amazing tool we used with a pony we had previously who was very shy and spooky. It was a way to building up what she was capable of in a controlled way that she felt safe with.
  3. Long reining and lunging. So useful for teaching movement, fluidity of movement, how to hold themselves, move through gaits, encourage them to burn off steam, move forward without support on the ground and so much more. Make sure as with anything you gain advice from a professional if this is something you or your horse/pony hasn’t done before.
  4. Be less fearful. This can be done in hand or ridden but is best done in hand to start to give a reassurance. Add some ‘scary’ objects around the field or arena and start to show these to your horse or pony, allow them to explore at their own pace giving confidence to them and not forcing them to investigate. Start with less scary objects. You can even place these object at a safe distance from them in their field so they can go up to an explore and investigate in their own time when they feel safe to do so. Allowing exploration in a safe, controlled way at their speed ensures these items scare them less when you are out riding. I was so grateful mine were not scared on flappy England flags during the euros as every other house in our village seemed to have one.
  5. Standing. This is general manners but often over looked. Being able to stand for you to mount, stand while you open gates, have a chat, wait for traffic to pass. This is a vital skill, start with an easy stand, keep it short and lots of praise, starting non ridden or if ridden even having someone on the ground if needed.

Everything with our horses needs to be done slowly with baby steps, allowing them to achieve and build their confidence before moving onto the next step and also focusing on one thing at a time, remember they need time to process and make sense of things, the same as we do when learning something new.

I would love to hear your favourite groundwork activity.

Hayley x

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Horses need to play too – Horse enrichment ideas.

lady and child holding a brown pony

Over the last week the weather has been so changeable, we have hat sun, hail, wind and snow, usually all in the same day.

This got me thinking of different ways I can enrich our horses day as we haven’t been able to ride much.

Horses have lost a lot of the natural enrichment they would have in the wild and bored horses find their own entertainment and not usually in a good way, or they start with behaviours that we do not want.

I wanted to share a few of our ideas with you to keep their minds active. Obviously its important for them to be turned out in the field but sometimes that just isn’t enough mental stimulation for them and they get bored.

Horse Kebabs – We strung a variety of fruit and veg onto rope hung and different heights around the stables and yard area. These offered a great challenge being at different heights and also as they moved while they when touched as they were free hanging on the rope.

Scary Fields – This is a great opportunity to desensitise your horse. Add different objects around the field for your horse to investigate so when you are out and about items are not as scary. You can use tarpaulin, pool noodles. plastics, umbrellas, flags, cones, bottles, tyres, kids toys, bells….the options are endless. Do not add too many items at once and space them out so your horse can investigate each item without pressure and always ensure there is plenty of space so they can move away from the item if it is too scary. This is a low pressure way to introduce items and also give mental stimulation.

Scavenger Hunt – Add apples to their water, hay nets at different heights around the field, vegetables hung at different levels, large sensory balls stuffed with hay or fruit, pumpkins on the floor, herbs planted around the field…….. anything that adds variety to their diet, their day and encourages them to move around and scavenge.

Scratching Post – Add brush heads to a post for them to rub and scratch against.

Sound – Playing music, recording yourself reading a book or talking, this adds another dimension to their day when you are not around.

Let me know your ideas, I would love to hear how you enrich your horses life.

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Top 7 mounted games for kids

Girl riding a white pony

Summer holidays seem to have got here quickly and with another seven weeks off this means a lot of time for riding.

In our house the boys seem to have plenty planned however my daughters only plans are riding, her poor pony is getting ready to pack its bags and escape I think, it has never had so much love and attention.

With this in mind I have pulled together our top 7 mounted games to play while horse riding, as schooling can get boring, hacking is not always possible and as much as my daughter has decided cantering and jumping are great fun there is only so much her pony can do of this each week as we need to care for their joints and jumping daily is not good for them.

So here goes, they are all easy to set up and most importantly fun.

1 – Bending – Super simple but races round bending poles or cones in different gaits. I often use a timer or spots on the floor which need to be hit and there is a prize at the end (an ice lolly usually works well).

2 – Simon Says – Just like the unmounted versions but I use a mix of horsey tasks for example touch your ponies bum, touch your toes, ride one handed, stop, ride to the fence, trot to the cone, round the world, trot, touch ponies ears, touch your head, etc.

3 – Sponge and Buckets – Set up two buckets either on small tables or hung on fences, fill one with water. Give your child a sponge and get them to use the sponge to move the water from one bucket to another. They can do this against the clock or against a friend or just to see how much water they can move.

4 – Red and Green – Great game for if they have another friend who is also riding with them. Green means go, Red means stop. When you shout Red the last one to stop is out.

5 – Fetch – Set up some items attached to a fence, on cones etc and when you shout an item the child has to ride to it, pick it up and then ride to an empty bucket or basket and place it in there. This can be timed or against someone else.

6 – Egg and Spoon – Just like a traditional egg and spoon race but on horse back, however you can adapt this and use a shallow basket or bowl with a ball for younger children or a cup of water for older ones, you can even ask them to trot, making it harder to not spill the water.

7 – £5 Challenge – I loved this as a child. Place £5 under your bum/thigh/knee and try keep it there while you walk/trot or canter. Keep it there and you get to keep it. This is also a lot of fun (and a lot harder) bareback.

I hope you have the most amazing summer of riding fun, make sure you tag us in some of your pictures @redbearequestrian we may even pick our favourite and send them and their pony a special treat.

A note about safety

Safety is so important when it comes to riding activities. You know your child’s ability best so adapt the activity to them and ensure they don’t get to excite and start pulling on the ponies mouth or kicking a bit to hard. It is easy to get excited and competitive but these games should be fun for the ponies too.

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Launch Weekend – The Aftermath.

This weekend has been amazing.

Friday was a late one, ironing out any glitches, making sure everything was ready, and it was worth it because apart from two small glitches everything went amazingly.

The family were all so excited, the boys were helping behind the scenes, making sure items were ready for videos, etc. My daughter found a way to invade most of the videos and pictures throughout the day, especially across our instagram stories.

Saturday was unreal, the response was better than we could ever have wished for. We had so many messages wishing us luck, telling us people had ordered, we had shares across so many other accounts. It was honestly amazing. Plus we even managed to get out for a walk in the sun together and meet for a quick drink (socially distantly) with friends to celebrate. It was the best day.

Sunday we were far more prepared for what to expect however it was still above and beyond what we could ever have wished for. Again we had so many likes, comments, messages, shares and orders.

Speaking to fabulous people who had ordered, being able to support their purchases, hear what they loved, hear what they are coming back to buy next pay day has honestly been the most memorable experience.

Red Bear Equestrian is a labour of love, we have had a hand in creating every product, 98% of the items are totally exclusive to us. It has become so much more than a business, it is another part of our family that we all have a part it and cannot wait to see it grow.

So THANK YOU for your part ion helping our dreams become reality and please keep sharing, liking, messaging and of course purchasing as we want to bring you all the other products we have planned and share with you so much more.

Thank you x

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Homemade Horse Treats

I have shared a few times on my Instagram pictures of me and the kids making horse treats at home and have had lots of requests for the recipes.

So I thought I would share our favourite two, these both keep for a few days in an air tight container however I am lucky if ours last two days with three kids wanting to feed the three ponies.

Carrot Balls

1 Medium to Large Carrot (grated)

3oz of oats

4 Tablespoons of molasses or golden syrup

1 Tablespoon of water.

Method – Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Put the grated carrot into a bowl, add the oats and mix. Then add the molasses or golden syrup and water and mix well. Now its time to get your hands in and rolls into small bite size balls. Place on a baking tray covered in grease proof paper and bake for 20 mins or until golden brown. Wait until cool then serve to your pony.

Apple Balls

2 Large Carrots Grated (about 1 cup)

1 Apple Grated (about 1 cup)

2 Tablespoons Apple Sauce

1/4 cup of molasses or golden syrup

1 cup oats

1 cup of flour

1 Teaspoon of cinnamon

We also sometimes add some greens or banana. Just a handful.

Method – Pre heat the oven to 170 degrees. In a large bowl mix together all of the ingredients, then get your hands in the bowl and rolls into bite size balls. Then place on a tray covered in grease proof paper and bake for 20 mins or until golden brown. Wait for them to cool before feeding to your pony.

We would love to know what your horses and ponies think of these treats, please take some pictures of the fun you have making them and of your horse or pony enjoying them and upload onto facebook or instagram and tag us in @redbearequestrian