Has your barn closed? Many barns across the country (and worldwide) are closing to the public because of Covid-19. The influx of people is putting barn owners and barn workers at risk, not to mention other borders.
For horse owners this is traumatic. In the midst of the craziness of shelter in place, cut off from our friends, our work and — in many cases — members of our own families, our time at the barn, and with our horses is integral to our mental health.
I know it adds to your anxiety that you can’t be there to check your horse every day, to run your hands down their legs, to make sure your horse gets enough exercise every day.
Veterinarians in my area are making only necessary calls only; all vaccines and standard visits will be delayed until the pandemic subsides. Farriers are trying to keep safe while they work. My farrier is asking that horses be put on the cross ties and left in an empty aisle. Since Freedom gets glue-on shoes, we’re trying to figure out a way that makes her feel safe but keeps Freedom quiet.
What can you do during this time away from the barn?
- Write a list of goals and share them with your trainer
- Have a zoom session with your riding friends
- Read some horse-related articles online
- Read a horse-related book (I’m currently reading Core Conditioning for Horses: Yoga-Inspired Warm-Up Techniques: Increase Suppleness, Improve Bend, and Unlock Optimal Movement)
- Watch a movie (I enjoyed Ride Like a Girl)
- Work on your fitness. I know that nothing really replicates riding, and gyms and pools are closed, but there are online classes (Did you sign up for this one on Saturday? When you register you also get a free 1-hour intro course). I’m looking into yoga classes and am also walking every day.
- Start a journal of things you would like to do when you re-connect with your horse!
- Sponsor a school horse. Ask your barn if you can contribute to their upkeep as they aren’t covering their expenses right now.
Should you ride if you can?
Some barns haven’t closed or are allowing owners to schedule time to spend with their horses. The question I see asked on the Internet is whether you should be visiting the barn and, if you are allowed, should ride. Certainly you should stay away if you’re sick or if you’ve been in contact with anyone who is sick.
We closed if you’re sick. Common sense rules in place. Did a PSA asking peoplel to consider the fact that we are the primary care givers and cannot afford to get sick. Some barns in our area won’t let a vet come unless it’s life or death. That’s extreme I think.
Absolutely, I worry about getting hurt. This is not the time to end up in the hospital. Doctors and nurses need to be focused on patients who are sick, not ones who fell off their horses. One people wrote:
I’ve decided to stop riding and just spend time with my mare in her paddock and/or hand grazing. We had our first day today and it was wonderful! I’m really hoping I can continue to visit with her. I see her daily.
And yet, there is a lot of comfort to be found on the back of a horse. Right now I’m lucky that I can still access my horses, as I’m in a self care barn. I have been spending more time grooming and hanging out with them, and while I’m riding, I’m keeping it very low key. Lots of long walks and nothing too challenging.
What about you? Can you still get to your horse? And has the coronavirus changed what you’re doing with him or her?