Meet #TeamDiO Member Sara Dircks
For as long as I can remember, horses have been in my life. Whether it was while I was dreaming in my sleep, playing with my Breyer horses on my bedroom floor, or saving pennies in a jar to one day be able to buy a pony… horses have always been a part of me. I started taking weekly lessons when I was 5 years old after my mom and dad finally gave in to my constant begging. Weekly lessons became daily barn chores after school. I would ride my bike after school every day to clean stalls, groom for the trainers, hand walk horses, and help any way I could in order to earn some credit towards more lessons. Being a “barn rat” is where you earn your stripes to maybe get a free lesson from time to time. If you were lucky you might get a quick hack on one of the schoolmasters where that old warmblood would attempt to teach you to stop pulling on the bridle. Now that I’ve owned a few different horses, became an adult in the real world, and am attempting to fend for myself while competing… I truly believe that all of that barn rat time has embedded the horsemanship skills into my brain. Repeat after me… THE HORSE COMES FIRST. They carry us, they tolerate us, they do whatever job we ask of them that day. Put your phone down and pick up the pitch fork. Change the water in their bucket. Groom your horse until you see your own reflection. Finally… for the love of horsemanship… reward your horse with DiO. Horsemanship is a dying skill these days with professional grooms, overly handy parents, and teenagers with cell phones. My love of horses starts with the care, has competition in the middle, and the unconditional love of the entire sport to bring it home. DiO gives me the ability to believe in a company made by people just like me, who love the horse & the sport. They provide the horsemanship in their liniment to give your horse the relief they need while you take care of (literally) everything else.
It’s hard core winter here in the Midwest and that means different things for different riders. Some choose to head south for the winter in search of warmer weather and an early start on their competition season. Others continue to train relentlessly during these cold months in hopes for a move up to a tougher division. So what do I do? Well… I typically give my horse 1-2 months off after the last show of my year. I attempt to time those months around November/December so Charlie can go live it up in the pasture for a bit and just be a horse for a while. January comes around and it’s back to training and preparing for the upcoming show season! So what do I do for the 2 month break? HORSEMANSHIP. Say it with me again. THE HORSE COMES FIRST. Maybe I don’t ride every day but that doesn’t mean my horse isn’t cared for. That doesn’t mean he lives in a dirty stall or has a yucky water bucket. I’m fortunate enough to have Charlie in a beautiful boarding facility that takes excellent care of my horse while I’m at work full time trying to save my pennies for next years show season. Well, that and maybe a few new saddle pads… or a new bridle…. Or maybe that 3 point breastplate I’ve been dreaming about. Where was I? Horsemanship! So the fact that Charlie has amazing caretakers to feed him and make sure he gets out of his stall for the day doesn’t mean that I’m no longer needed! Maybe I give a fellow trainer a hand, sweep the tack room without anyone asking me to, give that old retiree in the end stall a little extra love. There is ALWAYS something to do around the barn and always a horse nose to kiss.
While January has FINALLY graced us with its presence and 2017 can kiss our injured asses, I am looking forward to the start of my training regime and the countdown to my first 3-day event of the season! DiO is ready and waiting in my brush box. Since Charlie has had some time off, I use DiO on Charlie’s legs before I ride to help loosen up those tight muscles in the cold weather. I’ll even use a bit more after my ride if I feel he needs some added support from a hard days work. I prefer the gel liniment for his legs as I can control where it is used and how much. Using the liquid concentrate in a spray bottle lightly on his back is always a nice treat after a jump session.
After caring for your horse, make sure to reward yourself as well. Happy rides everyone. Here’s to a fantastic 2018!
Sara Dircks is a 3-day eventer that attempts to juggle horse-life, work-life, and wife-life. She has a heavy love for competition and is constantly learning new ins and outs of the sport. Located in a small town in Illinois, she enjoys the company of her husband, dogs, cats, and her beloved horse Charlie.