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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?
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!
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