To Ride or Not to Ride: How Are Schoolers and Schooling Barns Handling COVID-19 Operations?

“Going to the barn might be considered ‘non-essential.’ Going to the barn feels essential to me.” We all are grappling with how we handle riding, not riding, going to the barn, and not going to the barn.

I’ve organized my spice cupboard – in French. My attic echoes it is so empty. I’ve written/emailed forgotten friends from elementary school. I reorganized the liquor cabinet by season (and “cleaned” out surprises hiding in the back).

I miss the barn.

Photo by Candace Wade

My barn in Nashville may be part of the non-essential lockdown. I was interested in seeing what rules barns were employing – for now. First, check out Horse Nation for comprehensive suggestions. Now for the rules from a Nashville, TN horse barn:

(This barn provides boarding, Cross-Country course and lessons that serve children predominantly. I removed general health reporting information.)

  1. If you or anyone in your family has been directly exposed to the virus or are exhibiting symptoms of illness, please err on the side of caution and don’t come to the farm.
  2. Use special caution if you have been traveling recently on public transportation, including airline travel. If you have traveled on an airline in the past two weeks, refrain from coming to the farm for 12 days.
  3. Practice social distancing at all times. Take turns going into the tack room. Stay six feet away from others. Imagine you are on a pony!
  4. Wear riding gloves (or other gloves) at all times when in the barn area, handling horses, riding and untacking/putting away your tack.
  5. Do not bring friends or extra people with you to the barn.
  6. Practice social distancing and keep extra space between horses in and at the barn. For example, keep an open crosstie between you and the horse next to you.
  7. ONLY TOUCH YOUR HORSE, unless specifically asked by a staff member to handle other horses.
  8. Wash your hands with soap or use hand sanitizer upon arrival at the farm and before you leave. Wash your hands often.
  9. Refrain from touching your face. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder. Throw away any trash you produce in the garbage can.
  10. Don’t share items or give items to others to hold. This includes PHONES, crops, helmets, reins, horses, etc.
  11. The feed room and bathroom will be closed to non-staff members. The porta potty will be available as will soap and hand sanitizer.
  12. Do not plan to spend extra time here. Take care of/or ride your horse and leave. This is not a place to hang out right now. Our shared goals are to stay well and keep the farm open for riders, even if on a more limited basis. Please take responsibility and do your part and ride on!

I ride schooling horses for pleasure, lessons and to de-stress by grooming. Dilemma: Going to the barn might be considered “non-essential.” Going to the barn feels essential to me. I want to support this “small business” owner. I can go when no one else is around. Yet, I will always check with the owner and follow her guidelines so I don’t lose the privilege.

What are the thoughts of fellow riders who school/rent and don’t own?

Photo by Candace Wade