The UK's second national lockdown may see riding schools close, and competitions grind to halt, but it doesn't have to stop your or your horse's progress altogether.
Government guidelines allow outdoor facilities to remain open, riders to exercise their horses, and individuals to travel for physical activity.
With competitions cancelled or postponed, many of us feel like we're at a loose end, but it doesn't have to be that way. Why not try one of my five ideas on how to make the most of lockdown with your horses?
- Go For Broke on the Bridleway - But Safety Comes First
Under the new government restrictions, riders can head out onto the public bridleways with up to five friends as long as they do so safely.
Assess the risk of your activity before embarking on a ride and, if the conditions are muddy, slippery, or in any way dangerous, postpone it.
Similarly, if your horse has had several weeks of rest, maybe lunge it for a while before heading out, helping to prevent injury and potential accidents.
- Keep Your Riding Fitness Up During Lockdown
With the winter weather closing in, hacking out may not be particularly appealing, but that doesn't mean you have to let your fitness levels plummet. There are lots of activities you can do to keep your riding fitness up so you can return to the saddle stronger than before.
You'll find lots of exercises online, from cardiovascular workouts to strength training and yoga sessions. A combination of all three could take your riding to the next level.
- Get a Trainer to Help Prepare Your Horse for Competition
Freelance trainers like myself are still able to travel to your yard to provide training sessions. Use this valuable time to improve your horse's flexibility and mental attitude.
One-on-one lessons are both the safest in terms of restricting the spread of coronavirus, and the most beneficial. I can help you improve your technique, communicate more effectively with your horse while removing tension and encouraging a calm and positive learning experience.
- Deepen Your Understanding with Online Training
Use online tutorials, courses, and events to improve your riding, horse knowledge, and road safety awareness from the comfort of your armchair.
Learn about equine psychology, enroll on an instructor's course, or join one of the British Horse Society's many online events.
From virtual coaching sessions to talks on winter welfare and equine nutrition, the BHS is determined to keep you challenged and stimulated during the lockdown.
- Track Down the Best Equine Blogs
Some of the world's top equestrians have taken to the blog to share their experiences, expertise, and advice.
Are you interested in showjumping? Check out Camilla Bingham's blog on the Horse and Hound site. Want to embrace a more environmentally friendly way of keeping your horse? Find out more on The Horse's Smart Horse Keeping blog.
Prefer watching to reading? Check out the Horse and Rider TV blog where professional riders share their thoughts on everything from gridwork to choosing the right saddle.
Lockdown doesn't mean the end of your riding ambitions. By following my five tips on how to make the most of lockdown, you can continue to improve as a rider, build your relationship with your horse, and prepare for future competition.