Enduring COVID-19 Changes as a Horse Owner Who Boards

Necessary closures to curb the spread of COVID-19 upended many of our routines and interactions. Here’s a look at how one horse owner is coping.

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Enduring COVID-19 Changes as a Horse Owner who Boards
Our farm management instituted a longer time slot to ride during the staff members’ lunch, provided we groom and tack our horses out of our cars and social distance properly. Happy has grown accustomed to ground-tying beside my car. | Photo: Stephanie L. Church

Like most of you, my life—and my life with horses—took a profound detour back in March. Necessary closures to curb the spread of COVID-19 upended my routines and interactions. During a time when, like many, I am grappling with the uncertainty of the next few weeks and months, spending time with my horse, which helps ground me, feels more necessary than ever.

But I know each of you has a different level of access to your horses right now. For some with private farms, horse-keeping has changed very little, aside from curbside pickup of feed and bedding. But you’re still stranded at home when you’d generally be meeting people to trail ride or going to shows. Others keep horses at boarding farms that have shut down completely to outside traffic, and you’re eager to simply receive photos of your horses from the barn staff. A bunch of us fall somewhere in the middle, depending on the farms’ policies in light of executive orders and agriculture department recommendations.

I’m grateful I get to spend prescheduled time with my horse daily, following policies of one person at a time in the barn, washing hands, and using disinfectant and my own lead rope (the halters—all leather or breakaway, of course, are staying on for the time being). I glove up each day to be extra-careful; one of our staff is among the age group most vulnerable to infection. As an extrovert who lives alone, that time out in the fresh air with my chestnut off-track Thoroughbred, Happy, is the best part of my day

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Written by:

Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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