SOMEHOW, I’m not quite sure how, my horses and I have survived the first week of the lockdown due to Coronavirus… Being honest, it hasn’t made any difference whatsoever to two of my horses, as I don’t ride them – they have continued to be fed, mucked out and cared for, as always! My precious ‘Jewel’ on the other hand has seen a significant difference to her normal routine…
Like many people I know, our usual weekly activities include riding at home two or three times, having at least one coaching session and then, at the weekends, we try to go jumping somewhere, out to a pleasure ride or perhaps schooling somewhere, depending on what happens to be on. And, let’s face it, we are so blessed in our wee country to have so many fantastic equestrian facilities and organisations and so many competitions and events to choose from – it really is hard to decide where to go sometimes!
Unfortunately that just isn’t possible at the moment, so like everyone else, our activities have been curtailed and boredom is starting to take it’s toll…
Like everyone else, I imagine, I am debating with myself about whether to ride or not. There are no Government guidelines on that at the moment, but the general advice is only to ride if it is ‘necessary’ to do so. Considering the pressure that is on the health service at present and the increased risk of acquiring Coronavirus in a hospital environment, it is unlikely that any rider would wish to land themselves in an Accident and Emergency department just now! So, if riding is deemed to be ‘necessary’ it has been suggested that higher risk activities, such as jumping, would be best avoided… and backing that feisty youngster may not be advisable just now.
That leaves me with lungeing or loose schooling, flatwork or hacking… My husband is taking this lockdown very seriously and doesn’t want me out on the road on a horse, in case of an accident – and I can see his point – so, if I wish to ride, that leaves me with flatwork in a rather small turnout paddock…
With safety in mind, even in normal circumstances, I would tend to loose school before getting on, if I feel that my horse is fresh – as there is no point in tempting fate. At present, it is even more important to assess any risk and minimise it.
‘Jewel’ is currently fit. I fear that leaving her without exercise could lead to myself or one of my other horses getting injured – which for me is not an option! ‘Jewel’ is sharp, but is more sensible under saddle than she is in hand or loose, so after loose schooling to get rid of the excess exuberance, I have ridden (with all my usual protective gear on). Going round in circles isn’t ideal – particularly when we are used to doing so much more – but, in this situation, it is the best option to keep both my horse and my mental wellbeing right!
In the absence of our equestrian outings, there has been a silver lining of sorts… I managed to get my husband to finish off my tack room and have moved lots of stuff from my front hall (!) and garage into it and it’s now up and running!
I will be taking the opportunity to sort through my huge hoard of equestrian clutter and see how much of it I actually need… I have even found a bit that a friend had mentioned that she would like to try!
I am hoping that the week ahead will see a bit more clearing out, grooming and just enjoying my horses… safely!
I do hope that anyone reading this is able to do the same – remind yourselves that this situation is temporary and, if you’re able to walk your horse in hand or manage to have a limited ride, just look forward to the day when you can once again canter along the beach, ride that dressage test or jump your next clear round.
If you have any lockdown stories you would like to share, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org