So this summer I will be going out of town for about two weeks. Normally I find someone around the barn that wants extra rides and get them to exercise my guy. He is generally well behaved and is quite popular around the barn. However, he is just coming off a half lease and has been ridden 6 days a week generally and horse shows 1-2 times a month. I'm wondering if it would be beneficial to his mental health more than anything to just get a short break? It obviously depends on the horse but has anyone noticed these relatively short breaks to be beneficial or just make them crazy when you get back? Theyre out basically 24/7 weather permitting.
Our horses all get 3-6 weeks off in the winter to just be horses. Keeps them fresh, sound, sane, and happy. They're all a little wild when they first start back, but get back to the routine within a week or two.
Time off is fine -- sometimes good to shed a little fitness and just have a couple of weeks off to fling themselves in the mud. I'm not a big fan of lunging before getting on a horse that has had a couple of weeks off, so might give 1/2 cc of Ace on the first ride after a break to make sure horse and I finish our ride together without any leaping around by either of us.
My horse has always come back better after her short breaks. Neither were voluntary, but both involved lots of turnout and no riding. Did not come back crazy at all, and felt better through her body than before. So for two weeks I wouldn't hesitate, as long as you know someone will still be keeping an eye on him while you're gone!
We have the opposite of "winter breaks" down here: nasty, humid, rainy, August. Our horses typically get most of the month off due to bad weather and sloppy riding conditions. They seem to enjoy the break and come back just fine. Your boy may enjoy a vacation too
My horse enjoys a little time off. In November he had the whole month off and came back much more focused, relaxed and ready to work. Not crazy at all. I think they do enjoy some time off to recharge their batteries so to speak.
Your guy will be fine for 2 weeks. You can always ask if someone will groom or hand walk him for you while your gone.
Every year my horse gets a 2 week vacation in the summer, it's my military Annual Training. I try to find people to take him out on hacks, but usually it's July and ridiculously hot, so he just chills out in the pasture. Heck, last year I had an unrecognized HT a week after, he was awesome (only horse to have double clears in sj AND xc!).
I also give him a month off in the winter, usually Dec since I'm so busy with the holidays. We're both better for it!
My gelding just got 2 weeks off because I had a family emergency I had to deal with. I fed him, told him he was beautiful and other than that he got to be a horse. I was afraid he was going to be a flying lunatic when I took him out this weekend, but he was so good. He seemed to "get" things in the ring that we had been fighting about in the few weeks before his break, and we had two long level-headed trail rides that he was super on. Do it!
For the past few summers, I've gone as a groom for a week long horse show out of town. Anyone I'd trust to ride my horse is there or away elsewhere and unfortunately, he has never been able to make the trip with me. He usually gets the week off and maybe a few days on either side- about 10 in total- and comes back happy and ready to work. I think breaks are great, both mentally and physically. And two weeks or so is ideal for him. He gets a mental and physical break, but not so long that it takes a month to fit him up again.
Long story short, I'd go with a vacation for both you and him!
Why don't you just enjoy being a person and not worry about the horse and let him be a horse and not worry about pleasing humans for a couple of weeks. You will both be better for the break.
Having shown one up to age 21, all the "old wives tales" about keeping them in steady, daily work were just that, myths. He'll be out and moving and, if he is anythink like mine was, he'll come back sharper then you have seen him for some time and eager for work.
Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
It's a great idea! And you don't have to worry about anything going wrong if you have several different people geared up to ride him in those 2 weeks. He'll appreciate it I'm sure. BN always gets a few weeks off in the winter, and he gets off a week-ten days in the summer when I go on vacation. I try to not have any shows until I've been back about 2 weeks and we're into our routine again. He also gets a week off after show season ends. And then we play until his winter break.