Equestrians on Quarantine

I live in New York State.  Fortunately, I am hours from the city but I live in New York none-the-less.  New York is currently the leading state in the country for confirmed cases of Coronavirus/COVID-19.

As of March 23rd, the United States had 33,404 cases.  NEW YORK STATE made up 15,168 of those cases.  An alarming 45% of the country’s cases are within New York State.

A mere two days later…March 25th the US numbers have jumped to 54,453 and NY is now at 26,358 (48% of nation’s confirmed cases).

The pandemic is affecting everyone, but I want to address the equestrian community specifically.

New York state has officially shut down all non-essential businesses.  Grocery stores are open.  Gas stations.  Hospitals.  Animal care is still available.  My company is among those that are considered essential.

People are without work.  They are quarantining at home.  Now, upon our governor’s orders, farms are closing their doors to the public until further notice.

While I applaud the farm owners for complying and being responsible I see many that have trouble wrapping their heads around this.

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Horse Owners

You are boarding your horse at a farm and now the farm owner says you can’t come to see your horse.  The farm owner says employees only, nobody else may come.

I understand your frustration.  We all do.

We all love our horses; they are our children.  They bring us sanity.

For some, they are our entire world.

This might feel gut-wrenching to you.  World stopping.  It may seem unfair.  Outrageous.

PLEASE.  Try to understand that the farm owner is doing the responsible thing.  Your horse will be cared for and you will see him/her again.  The farm owner doesn’t WANT to ban your presence.  The farm owner doesn’t WANT to separate you from your horse.

There is no elaborate scheme against you.

COVID-19 is a pandemic unlike we’ve seen before.  I first learned about the virus in January but it didn’t start making headlines in my area until the end of February.  In a matter of weeks, the disease progressed from “it’s overseas” to “it’s here in the US.”  Given another week or two it was upgraded to a pandemic.  People began to self-quarantine.  Schools shut down.  Businesses shut down.  People bought ALL OF THE TOILET PAPER (still trying to wrap my head around that one).

Evidence proves that COVID-19 is highly contagious.  It is airborne.  Your breathing alone is enough to spread the illness.  Maybe you feel fine, but there is still a small chance that you have been exposed.  Perhaps you’re asymptomatic…perhaps the symptoms haven’t shown up yet.

Farm owners are doing their part to keep themselves and their boarders SAFE.  Maybe you are fine, but perhaps a fellow boarder has been exposed.  Perhaps a fellow boarder is caring for their elderly parents.  Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps.

PERHAPS we are, in fact, overreacting to the illness.  But that is EXACTLY the point.  If everyone can comply with the global overreaction there is a good chance that we can halt the virus and let itself die out.

It sucks that you cannot see your horse for a few weeks.  It is difficult for you and probably for your horse too. We get it.

But PLEASE consider the big picture.

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YOU ARE PART OF A BIGGER PICTURE

I am fortunate to have my horses at home.  I am fortunate to work for a company that is considered essential.  But my heart and mind is on those that are not so fortunate.

Consider the farm owners.  The trainers.  They have all been forced to close their doors.

We all know how expensive horses are.

Without income how will they feed their horses?  Pay vet, farrier fees?  Taxes?  What about getting money from the boarders who have lost their jobs in all of this?

What then?

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Consider the horse owners who have just become unemployed.  Unemployment doesn’t cover everything.  Rent and utilities might be postponed for a few months…but from what I understand they are all expected to be paid eventually.  There is no guarantee right now that the government will come through with a stimulus check.  At this point, our unemployed horse owners are now struggling to keep the roof over their head let alone care for their horses.


This is not the time for the equestrian community to become (or stay) divided.  We may be socially distancing but we can do it as a unified group.  This is the time for us to stand strong.  Endure the pain of not seeing your loved ones.  Trust your farm owner to do the right thing and provide excellent care.  Some farm owners will even take photos of your horse for you to help you through this time.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

If you are currently unable to see your horse here are some things you CAN do.

  • Improve your horsemanship.
    • I don’t care if your 15 or 70.  I don’t care whether you have 6 months of experience or 50 years.  There is ALWAYS something you can do to improve your horsemanship.  To improve your learning and understanding.  Now is the time to do so.
      • For the less experienced:
        • What have you always wondered about?
        • What have you not done before?
        • Some ideas to consider:
          • Barn hacks
          • Common ailments of the equine
          • Anatomy and physiology
          • Groundwork training
          •  Nutrition
      • For those with years of experience:
        • How are you using your knowledge to help others?
        • What advancements have been made recently in equine science? Maybe your knowledge is outdated (maybe not).
    • Side Note: If there’s a topic you’d like me to cover on The Green Horseman reach out, I’d be happy to help!
  • Clean your tack
    • If you are able to, get your tack and bring them home for a well-deserved cleaning.
  • Teach yourself a new skill.
    • Learn how to make a braided rope halter.
    • Try making your own hay net.
    • Handy with a sewing machine?  Try making a cooler, saddle pad, or even a saddle cover.
    • Crochet suit your liking more?  Maybe try making a fly bonnet
    • Write!  Write a children’s book.  Write a journal.  Just write.
    • Draw/Paint/Sketch.  Who cares if you’re not skilled?   Maybe you’ll improve.
  • Stay fit
    • Gyms might be closed but you can still stay in shape.  There are literally hundreds of resources available at home.  Try using what you have available to you.  Look up good body weight exercises.  Go for a walk/jog.  Workout in your backyard.  Watch a fitness video.

There are so many things you can do while apart from your horse.

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When the threat passes and we’re able to resume lessons and regular riding please continue to keep each other in mind.

Pay your trainer in advance for some lessons.  Help them pay for their feed and farrier during this time and make up the lessons later.

Take some extra lessons if you’re able to.  It’ll improve your riding but also help get your trainers back on their feet.

Volunteer a day or two of work to your farm.  Offer them some respite after this difficult time.  Barn won’t let you volunteer?  Maybe offer them a gift card to a nice LOCAL restaurant to help your local community get back to status quo.

Keep your fellow equestrians in mind.  The equestrian community is subject to lots of drama.  Please don’t become part of the problem.

Horse owners might have trouble getting back on their feet after all of this.  They may be at risk of losing everything, including their horse.  More horses may be at risk of falling into the slaughter pipeline.  If you notice a fellow equestrian struggling after this, refrain from the typical gossip and see what you can do to help.

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There, I’ve said my piece.

Equestrian family, please make me proud. 

Work together to banish COVID-19.  Work together to keep each other healthy, our farms open, and our horses’ futures safe.



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4 Comments

  1. I hadn’t even thought about people having horses agisted elsewhere thank goodness for technology, would be great if some could face time. Here in our little town its not so bad. Our state boarders are now shut for the first time since 1918 when the Spanish influenza came through. Its comforting to know our government is doing its best, it is really up to us to be sensible. The toilet paper thing is a little beyond a joke isn’t it…Stay well my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to say despite this being such new territory they are doing their best. I have seen some really strange policies at wok from people who are trying their best (sometimes missing the point entirely). This is such a strange time for us.
      Stay well as well!

      Like

  2. Hey there, I’m glad to hear you are essential. That’s good news. Us too. Keep in mind that not all states are testing equally. So that % is askew. I am also lead to believe the numbers(CDC report) have not had the folks who have recovered subtracted from the “number”. How did NY become #1 so suddenly? I thought Washington state had that honor? There’s so much number crunching going on it makes me wonder. I also know 2 people who had the virus and it was 48 hours long. They are fine now. As with all diseases that pass by, sadly it will always take some who are not sturdy enough. Its a time for counting blessings, taking stock and showing love and kindness. Its also a time for being prepared, testing your skill and resources. This to shall pass. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. New York has a very high population density and they are projected to double in numbers every 3 days. It may have taken 3 days to recover but that is not the norm it seems and it is our duty to help protect those more at risk. It is affecting people of all ages.

      Like

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