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We are all tired of hearing about the Covid-19, Corona Virus, but if you’re anything like me, you have already thought about the positive side effects of living in a world with changes to our daily routines. We, meaning most of my friends since I already work from home every day, are more likely to be not commuting to an office, and instead are in our most comfortable clothes, within (perhaps) a more flexible schedule. As horse owners, the ability to work remotely, coupled with the longer days may be a happy pairing of circumstances when planning time spent with our equine friends. 

The best part about this new life, is that this virus doesn’t mean you must stay in your home (generally), and riding in the sunshine on the open trails is not going to do harm as long as you don’t hold hands with your riding buddies. Since horses don’t live in small quarters, this unfortunate turn of viral-induced daily patterns changing may actually have some unexpected benefits. In general, and unlike a viral outbreak affecting horses, where we must quarantine, this virus doesn’t necessitate a huge negative impact on our riding! Safety issues that we are practicing now in our daily lives still apply—hand washing, physical distancing, not gathering in large groups—and are practical measures to follow. 

Which brings us to the next positive ramification regarding our self-imposed quarantines: Socializing! Yes, we can still visit with our friends and share a good arena ride or even lesson as we are accustomed. There is no reason not to spend time with other people as long as you maintain distance. And the thing is, we are seldom closer than ten feet from each other while on the trail or in the arena. Basically, our horse world lives go on as before Corona entered our world. Only in the tightest barns will there be any issues. Shared tack rooms still need to be treated as possible infectious zones, and if you use the bathroom at the barn, do what you do in any public facility. But really, mostly, our horse time is still our best time!

So, do we need to worry about being a carrier of the virus and passing it to our horses or dogs? No, we do not. All research available at the time of this writing indicates that this simply will not happen, so we don’t even need to be concerned about harming our animals!

Let’s say you are now working from home in your grubbiest, most comfortable barn clothes. Dogs at your feet, a warm beverage at your elbow. In the office, you would normally take a short break and eat something, chat with coworkers, go the loo, whatever. But now, at home, you get up, throw on your barn shoes and trundle out to see your horse. The biggest problem with this scenario is remembering that your break is supposed to be fifteen minutes, and that’s just not enough time. So you do the math in your head; it took you five or six minutes to grab some carrots, walk to the door, get your shoes on and get to the barn, so those minutes don’t count. Then there is the time spent gathering up grooming supplies and checking the water as you walk past. Those minutes don’t count, either. Opening the stall door and haltering your horse? Doesn’t count. Grooming? Nope, not part of your break. Now that he’s clean, it would be a shame not to ride, right? And besides, you still have fifteen minutes!

Saddle or no saddle is the next question and either way, saddling and bridling don’t count as time off your break, either, so you decide you may as well saddle him up and then ride for your break time. 

Fifteen minutes to ride…is it worth it? Yes, that is a resounding yes, it is totally worth it! Especially in the spring, after a long winter, riding for fifteen minutes exactly, is something I recommend to my clients. It’s a great way to reintroduce that four letter word, work, to your horse and to let your own muscles remember how to sit a horse. Plus, for some reason, a ride of this duration (and no longer) is conducive to a happy, fun and pleasant ride. It doesn’t matter if you stay in the corral, the arena or go out on the trail. Set your alarm, ride for exactly fifteen minutes, and you’ll see that at the end, you both wish for a longer ride. Best thing? You can do this same thing at your next work break, and you may not even need to groom before saddling!

The point is that the Covid-19 Virus does not necessitate the need for less barn time, it can instead, increase it. If things go south badly enough that our counties or states lock us down to our immediate vicinities, we can almost always still ride! We can hop on, head out into the woods or across a field and we can even meet up with our best friends to share some social time. 

Here, in the foothills outside of Denver, Colorado, we did this yesterday and had a fabulous ride at a local park. The snow was deep enough that there were a couple of scary moments where the horses had to lunge through the drifts, but all in all, it was a fun time with good friends and we shared some good laughs. Doing things we normally would do, with people we like to spend time with helps the mental framing of where we are at right now, worldwide.

Here’s a list of Pros regarding the Cover-19 Virus and working from home. Because we all need some positive news now, right? 

  • Non-horse people may feel lonely working at home. Not you! You have horses, dogs and likely a cat or two to play with!
  • You’ll be able to feed your horse many meals throughout the day.
  • Shedding your horse will be done in far less time than usual due to your multiple daily visits.
  • The corral will never have been cleaned so many times in a day.
  • A quickie ride will become common.
  • The communication lines between you and your horse will open and clarify due to your riding more.
  • You can clean a piece of tack daily during inclement weather days.
  • You’ll know when your horse prefers to nap or sleep and can plan work times accordingly. It’s amazing how working with his natural biorhythms helps his work ethic!
  • Your relationship will be the best its ever been and he’ll begin calling to you when the door opens as he anticipates your visit.
  • More time for groundwork!
  • Riding with friends will happen more often as the days lengthen and you skip lunch in order to end work early.
  • You can have all your hay delivered and stacked and blame it on the virus keeping you home.
  • Shopping on the internet for tack will be easier.
  • Shopping on the internet for a horse will be easier.
  • Horse sale prices will likely drop as people panic, but you keep your head.
  • You can braid your horse’s tail and bag it more often, as needed instead of waiting for the weekend.
  • The apple and carrot farmers will appreciate the increased business as horse owners buy more produce as horse treats.
  • You can explore new trails with the extra time you’ve earned by working in the dark hours of night.
  • You’ll get to share horse time with your significant other if they are willing.
  • You’ll get to know your significant other all over again.
  • Your significant other will see how happy you are being at home able to spend more time at the barn they will want to get you another horse.
  • During your afternoon break, you groom and then, at your quitting time, you saddle up and ride!
  • You may be able to try out a new training method, or new discipline because your relationship is so much better.
  • You will spend less on fuel which allows more funds for new tack or riding attire, boots, etc.
  • Your barn will be immaculate in no time, your tack room organized, horse blankets and pads washed.
  • Since it’s spring, you’ll be able to monitor pasture time and ease your horse onto green grass quickly and easily.
  • There will be time to clean out your horse trailer and even wash it.
  • Best of all, you have more time to ride, every single day if you want!

So, take that fifteen minute break and ride! If that is not feasible, do so at lunch, or skip lunch and go in the afternoon. If you can’t ride, just stand at the window and watch your horses, you’ll learn their daily routine. As you spend these next few days, weeks or months at home, you’ll find you are building a better relationship simply by being with your horse more.

Stay healthy, Happily Ever After!

~Tanya Buck

FREE Original Artwork by Jennipher Cunningham, because we all need pretty things right now, and a Palomino is nothing if not pretty! Get yours here, download and print, trim to size and laminate. Makes a great gift! In exchange, you get added to an email list that I seldom use and when I do, you always get more FREE STUFF! 

Tanya Buck
Published on 18-03-2020
Tanya Buck is an equine advocate, an author (101 Ways to Die with a Horse or Live Happily Ever After and White Horse, A Novel), horse trainer, coach and riding instructor. And if that list isn't long enough, she is also a member of the Front Range Animal Evacuation Team in Colorado and founder of the Horses Happily Ever After Project. Tanya believes that a holistic approach incorporating the horse's physical, mental and emotional state combined with reciprocal communication is most beneficial in creating the bond of champions. Her ongoing work to better the world for the horse drives her to keep doing what she does!