What Do I Do Now?

By Ashley Fant, Owner and Head Trainer at Ashley Fant Show Stables

While competitions and clinics are suspended and many equestrians are not in a position to ride, it can be challenging for “horse people” to find ways to channel their abundant energy, competitive spirit, and need to connect with their equine companions. I have several suggestions.

Go to USHJA.org and take the USHJA Horsemanship Challenge Quiz. Complete both levels by September 1 to be eligible for the HQC Nationals. Be sure to click on the link to the official study guide so you will be prepared to do your best. Membership is required above the outreach level to take the quizzes ($15-$85 annually depending on the membership type); however, access to the study guide is free and covers a wealth of information.

Check out the Learning Center section of the USEF.org website. It is filled with educational videos covering everything from blanketing to vaulting exercises to breeding and jump chutes. Content is free to everyone.

Watch past competitions and clinics on USEF Network. Many disciplines are represented under USEF and this section of their website has video from top venues available on demand. Content is free to everyone.

Join social media groups such as The Quarantine Classic on Facebook. This particular group hosts weekly virtual Hunter/Jumper shows to benefit the Colorado Hunter Jumper Foundation Horse Show Workers Assistance Fund. If you are in a position to ride, you can compete and help raise money for the fund. Even if you can’t ride at this time, you might enjoy the feed full of photos and can post some of your own. Donations are welcome.

Spend time reading. Olympic gold medalist and Germantown resident Melanie Smith Taylor’s book Riding With Life: Lessons from the Horse is a great one. You can also check out Melanie’s blog at melaniesmithtaylor.com.

Editor’s Note: The Mid-South Horse Review library is full of horse-themed books. Looking for a particular title or just want to browse a particular topic? Call us or email us and we’ll let you know what we have. We can leave the book for you in our lobby where you won’t encounter anyone else.

Clean your equipment. There is no time like the present to do a thorough Spring cleaning of all your tack, grooming tools and personal gear. Take stock of your supplies and replenish now so you will be prepared when you start riding and competing again.

Stay active. Get outside and exercise, work in the yard, walk the dog(s). Your body, your mind and your horse will thank you. It would be a shame to waste your first ride back being out of breath.

Practice being a mindful equestrian. Think through difficulties you might be having and consider possible solutions. Visualize your rides. Visualization can be a useful tool for making efficient progress and achieving success. Ride courses in your head picturing each stride and feeling it in your body. Take this time to ponder the details that might get brushed over in the normal hustle and bustle of your day. William Steinkraus wrote in his book Reflections on Riding and Jumping: Winning Techniques for Serious Riders: “Today I can’t believe that every rider wouldn’t benefit from spending some time consciously addressing his and his horses’ strengths and weaknesses, and trying to find ways to exploit the former to correct the latter.”

Be well, stay positive, and channel your energy so you emerge from this cocoon a more educated, prepared, and mindful equestrian.

Editor’s Note: This year USHJA will host a Zone 4 Regional Training Session at the University of Tennessee at Martin, TN on June 1-5. Clinicians are Candice King and Nanci Snyder.

Find out more about the EAP Regional Training Session and eligibility requirements; visit: https://www.ushja.org/education/emerging-athletes-program.VIP Auditing is also available at this clinic. Email education@ushja.org for auditing info.

USHJA’s Emerging Athletes Program provides opportunities for young riders to advance their horsemanship education and riding skills at Regional Training Sessions throughout the nation. Riders must meet the eligibility requirements to participate in a Regional Training Session, complete the online application, and submit three letters of recommendation.

They must also complete the Level One Quiz of the Horsemanship Quiz Challenge with a score of 80% or above. For all Regional Training Sessions this year, application materials must be completed and submitted no later than April 22, 2020.

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