Cold, snowy, windy, winter weather can significantly limit riding days. Here are some ways to keep your boarding or lesson facility clients engaged with non-riding activities that will keep them connected with barn friends until spring arrives.
Group outing: Schedule a day for clients to participate in a group get together. A trip to the movies, a few hours at a roller skating rink or similar activities foster a community atmosphere among clients at your barn.
Get crafty: Have a parent or boarder with a knack for being crafty? Ask if they’d be interested in leading a craft day. Up-cycle old horseshoes into rustic decorations. Reuse aged barn wood to create name plates for stall doors. Collect grapevine from fence lines and weave them into wreaths. There are endless opportunities to be creative.
Support client hobbies: Many horse owners have multiple interests and talents. If they sing in a choir, participate in a sports team, play an instrument, etc., encourage clients to support one another’s outside interests in winter months when riding time might be scarce. This could be as simple as sharing what your clients are doing this winter in your newsletter or on your website or social media.
Cook-off competition: Have a competitive group of clients? Host a friendly cooking competition. Pick an easy theme like chili, mac n cheese or cookies. Encourage interested clients to bring their best dishes and recipes to share to the barn on a day full of lessons, or create a separate day for tasting.
Dog days: Dogs and horses tend to go hand-in-hand. When snow, cold and short days limit saddle time, get clients together with their dogs to experience more than the basic game of fetch. Frisbee “disc” training is fun for the indoor arena, backyard and even competitive leagues. Some dogs are more naturally suited for the competitive leagues that are available, but any dog can play and enjoy introductory training. Just make sure the dogs can follow basic commands like sit or stay and are well socialized. Dogs should be at least 18 months old to avoid damage to growth plates. You might even bring in a local dog trainer to host a "dog day" clinic in your indoor arena. Then the dog trainer can host you for an "introduction to horses" for their dog clients.
There are many ways to keep clients active and engaged with your equine business, and each other, during the long, cold days of winter.