Sheltering in place was easy. Sonny and I don’t travel much, even to local horse shows. Weekend activities are generally limited to a handful of barnmates who gather at our boarding barn, gossip, and plan lunch at a local burger joint.
Then COVID-19 began its march across the country. Suddenly, the barn was no longer the linchpin of my equestrian social life.
Suddenly there were rules: social distancing, self-isolation, and prescribed personal hygiene.
To prevent us from spreading the pathogen, our barn operator put us on a strict schedule. Now, everyone has a visitation window and gets private lessons by appointment only. Independent arena rides must take place in solitude, and riders are expected to leave the premises as soon as their tack is put up.
All of this is intended not to protect our horses from us, but to protect us from each other. For horse owners, this is novel a notion, for sure.
That’s because equestrians are known to panic when their horses show up with so much as the equine equivalent of a hangnail. But we don’t think twice when we slice a finger opening a feed bag. We ride through all manner of conditions—even chemotherapy—without a whimper, and we are more than willing to forgo a night out to afford our horses’ pricey supplements.
When it comes to protection, our horses have always come first. Now COVID-19 is forcing us to do what we must in our own best interest and in the best interest of the human members of our barn families. Ultimately, that might not be such a bad thing to do, even after the coronavirus challenge has passed.
So until somebody tells me otherwise, I’ll observe the rules and visit Sonny on our appointed day and time and only ride when I have the arena all to myself.
I miss the good company of my friends, but frankly the peace and quiet out here is not such a bad thing, either.