JUST as the optimists among us thought there might be a glimmer of hope that the end might be in sight, lockdown in Northern Ireland was extended until May 28. We have already completed seven weeks of incarceration in our homes, without normal social interaction or sporting activities and it looks like we have a few more weeks to go.
Thank goodness those of us who are fortunate enough to have horses are able to take care of and interact with them! They are the friends that we are able to hug and spoil at the moment, so we may as well make the most of that!
As many riders have, I have been trying very hard to take a sensible approach to exercising my horse. While ‘Jewel’ is generally very well behaved, she can be sharp and sometimes a bit spooky. I have assessed any risk and decided that it would be a greater risk to our safety to leave ‘Jewel’ unridden for many weeks and then expect her to behave when I would eventually ride again. I feel it more sensible for both of us, for me to ride when I can and stick to flatwork – it keeps us both relatively fit and sane!
I have lunged and loose schooled where appropriate to ensure our safety and reduce the risk of injury to either myself or to her. I have made the decision to continue to ride, but have made a concerted effort to keep it as low risk as possible, concentrating on flatwork and avoiding jumping.
We have continued to enjoy riding in the field – thanks to the fantastic spell of weather, the ground is holding up really well! The temperature has dropped a bit, but it is still such a joy to pull on a fleece and go for a ride. Whatever might be going on in the outside world, I have certainly been reminded that the best way to view the world has to be through a horse’s ears! There is no better outlook for a horse lover!
Alongside working and trying to find time to ride, I have continued with my equine cleaning projects… Having previously washed saddle cloths, boots and rugs, I felt it was definitely time to do a bit of tack cleaning. Aside from my horses, my Passier Eventing saddle has to be my pride and joy. As such, I am quite disciplined about taking care of it – I usually give it a wipe over after riding, particularly if it has become muddy! If I know I have a big show coming up, I will strip it down and give it a really thorough clean. Since lockdown, however, I have felt slightly demoralised and, without shows to look forward to, I’m afraid I have become rather lax about tack cleaning! My saddle was well overdue for a bit of TLC, but thankfully it now looks a bit more presentable.
I was delighted to hear that Horse Sport Ireland have agreed that outdoor equestrian sport may resume in Phase 1 of the reopening of the Republic. Even if we have to wait a bit longer in the north, at least it is an indication that things are moving forward for the equestrian world – although I fear my tack may need to be cleaned again before ‘Jewel’ and I have any shows to go to…