Stephanie and Happy

We’re all adapting to a striking new reality right now. As horse owners, we’ve seen the COVID-19 pandemic upend our “normal” when spring recreational and competition riding was just getting started. As humans, we’ve seen it transform the way we go about our daily lives, being more mindful of friends, family, strangers, the risks we might pose to them, and vice versa.

We’re in a time where these changes, while uncomfortable for us, are crucial for halting the outbreak.

Aside from virtual communications with coworkers, family, friends, and my gym buddies, one thing has been vital to my wellness right now: time with my horse, Happy. I spend most of the day looking forward to my permitted time slot with him at the Lexington, Kentucky, farm where I board—even though it means rushing around while taking critical biosecurity steps to keep the barn staff and other boarders healthy. Being around Happy calms and distracts me for a bit. It keeps me grounded.

Indeed, for those of us at The Horse who have horses, COVID-19 has impacted us in different ways.

Jennifer is our web producer, and her family’s eight Appaloosas and two Quarter Horses live at their farm in nearby Lawrenceburg. For them the impact has been minimal; they’ve been ordering and picking up feed and supplies from the local mill and providers. She’s disappointed her shows have been canceled but acknowledges the found time for farmrelated spring cleaning and work.

Michelle, our digital managing editor, keeps her four horses—equal parts trail and dressage mounts—at home, near Bend, Oregon. She misses taking lessons but says the stay-at-home order has slowed her down and given her more freedom to spend time with her horses, taking extra moments to scratch or groom.

Our managing editor, Alex, also has a time slot where she can ride the Warmblood mare she’s leasing at another Lexington barn. Shows, field trips, and group lessons are off the table, and the outbreak means more disinfection-related chores. But she’s marveled about how quiet it’s been at the barn and how boarders have quickly adapted to communicating and signing up for ride times via a shared messaging app.

My barn family has also been using a messaging app, for logistics, support, and much-needed levity.

We’re all grieving the loss of normal right now and, even though it can’t be in person, connection is critical. I hope you and yours are healthy and safe and that you’re connecting with friends virtually. I also hope you are getting to connect with your horse on the ground or (safely!) in the saddle. Simply talking to Happy as I check on him, graze him, and walk around the farm has done more for our communication than a thousand transitions in the arena.

Please tell us how you’re adapting to a COVID-19 horse world.

Editor’s note: This column appears in the May issue of The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care. Don’t miss our magazine special offer below.

The Horse - May 2020The Horse is providing FREE access to the digital edition of the May 2020 issue of our magazine while you are staying healthy at home. To support more content like this, please consider subscribing for just $15 by clicking here. We wish you and your horses good health and safety during this time.

The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care is a monthly magazine packed with premium material not yet available on The in-depth content in each issue is curated by The Horse’s editorial team and reviewed by a board of American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) member veterinarians, so you know you can always count on relevant and current information about your horse’s care.