Handling Social Distancing and Horses: How Equestrians Can Safely Make the Most of It
This time of social distancing and quarantine can feel scary, confusing, and strange – but it’s also important to adhere to these measures in order to keep yourself and those that you love and care about safe and healthy.
By self-quarantining, we are able to help protect ourselves and others from the coronavirus, and it allows us to help “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases. However, self-quarantining can also lead to a far lesser problem: boredom. And a serious one for many equestrians facing cancelled shows, events, and lessons: financial loss.
In order to help combat both of these, we’ve compiled a list of five ways to help you safely make the most of this time.
1. Spend quality time with your horse(s). – If you keep your horse at home or if your boarding facility is still allowing visitors, take advantage of the extra time to ride, get outside in the sunshine, love on, groom, and care for your horse.
There is currently no evidence that horses can spread or contract CO-VID19, which Palm Beach Equine Clinic explains further in this blog post.
2. Implement new cleaning and social distancing protocols at the barn in order to allow operations to safely continue. – While we do advise spending as much time with your horse as possible during this time, we also recommend only doing it safely. Now isn’t the time to organize a trail ride with 10 of your barn friends or to plan a clinic since your spring horse show was cancelled. Instead, whether you’re a barn owner, boarder, or lesson student, it’s important to implement or follow some important new protocols.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Adhere to the CDC’s recommended six to nine feet of social distancing between you and others. That means limiting riding close together and not stopping to chat closely in the tack room or barn aisle. For barn owners or trainers continuing to provide lessons, Tara Swersie from Event Clinics recommends scheduling 15-minute blocks between lessons to help limit the number of people present at any time.
- Along the same vein, group lessons should be limited to no more than four people – and possibly fewer depending on the size of the ring.
- Clean and sanitize! Wherever you can, try to greatly reduce the number of shared items or surfaces such as whiteboard markers, pitchforks, and brooms. For places where it’s more difficult to reduce common contact, such as door knobs, crossties, light switches, or stall doors, incorporate frequent sanitization of these surfaces into your daily routine.
3. Try a new workout. – While going to the public gym isn’t advised (and currently in most areas isn’t allowed), there’s no reason not to work on your fitness during this time. Many fitness trainers and programs are currently offering free or greatly discounted online workouts, and YouTube workouts – like this Yoga For Equestrians routine with Yoga With Adriene – are always a great option.
If yoga isn’t your thing, Les Mills is also offering a 30-day free trial of all workouts on demand, like the program’s popular Body Pump class.
Here are a few easy-to-try-at-home CrossFit workout ideas, and the Fit Equestrian has programs specifically tailored to riders available for purchase here. The US Equestrian Learning Center even has a few workout videos!
4. Expand your equestrian knowledge. – While you may not be horse showing or riding with friends for a bit, now is a great time to expand your equestrian knowledge. Check out USEF Network to watch clinics and learn from experts for free, and go to the US Equestrian Learning Center for topics covering everything from horse care and breeding to riding a winning jump-off with Laura Kraut.
Order a new equestrian book to learn more about the sport, like the USET Foundation’s Riding for the Team, or about horsemanship and riding, like Anne Kursinski’s Riding and Jumping Clinic or Helen Crabtree’s Saddle Seat Equitation. Check out this great reading list, compiled by eventer Jim Wofford.
5. Tackle tasks that you’ve been avoiding. – Been putting off cleaning out that storage area or sorting through your old tack? Or maybe you have old show clothes to list for sale online? Now is the time to tackle these projects! For more ideas of these sorts of tasks and things to do during quarantine, check out My Equestrian Style’s list here.