I left the farm this morning feeling grateful for a few hours of familiar peace and calm. The barn was empty and I was able to tack up and ride my horse without interruption in the sunshine.
It’s a privilege not many of my fellow equestrians have right now, as more farms shutter and stay-at-home orders tighten amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier in the week, I watched from afar as a friend unexpectedly listed her new horse for sale. Like so many others, her business came to a screeching halt during the pandemic.
A barn friend who is also a paramedic doesn’t know when she’ll get to see her horse again, let alone her family. She’s staying with a fellow EMS colleague for now to limit any possible COVID-19 exposure to her partner and kids.
I see reputable training facilities creating GoFundMe pages to help generate enough funds to keep grooms and other farm staff employed while no lessons or training are allowed to take place.
There’s no light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic yet, and that might be the scariest part of all. How long will we be confined to our homes, watching as the death toll climbs every day?
This is obviously much bigger than the bubble I live in day-to-day: the small, but happy world of family-job-horses. In this gravely serious time when economic stability and general good health aren’t a guarantee anymore, my horse, unfortunately is hardly top of mind.
It really puts it all into perspective.
I was bummed when my competitive season ended abruptly as horse shows were canceled. I was annoyed that flights and hotels I’d already paid for were basically wiped away. In retrospect, I feel stupid for being irritated about such trivial things. Three weeks later, now I’m worried if I can count on getting a steady pay check through the next two months, if I can pay my mortgage, if my aging parents are going to get through this alright and God forbid, what will happen if all of this takes a wrong turn.
During the 2008 economic recession, we saw parents put the pricey Pony Finals mounts up for sale first, and their weekend speedboats next. I’ve never imagined a day where I’d have to part with my horse – he’s a forever one. But then reality hits – today, in the form of an awful, deadly virus – and I realize that being a horse owner is a luxury.
I don’t take it for granted. But in the grand scheme of things, worrying about my year-end championship points right now feels really selfish.