Let’s Discuss: Riding in the Time of COVID-19
We want to hear from you! What are your thoughts on riding your horses right now? Yea or neigh?
As we move forward with our lives amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing to navigate the uncharted waters in which we find ourselves , the question of what equestrians are to do comes up repeatedly and in myriad forms. We’ve examined what this means for businesses, what it means for boarding barns/boarders and what it means for those who school and lease horses. But what are the implications of COVID-19 for those of us who own our horses, keep them on our own properties and are their primary caretakers?
Obviously, when we are the ones who solely are responsible for our horses’ well-being, we need to feed them, water them, turn them out and make sure their needs are met. But that’s not quite as simple or straightforward as it may seem. Appropriate care for our horses — and perhaps to ourselves — extends to making sure they receive adequate exercise. But what does that mean? Realistically, should we ride?
Some see it as an absolutely binary: do not ride. The risks are too great. If we get injured, we are adding additional burdens to an already overtaxed medical system.
Others see riding their horses as a way to keep their horses healthy and themselves sane and well. They see it as something that is essential to the horses and the riders.
One of our readers wrote to us, expressing her point of view on the subject and the desire to have a frank conversation about it:
“I think a post discussing the risks associated with riding and how that fits into the current pandemic would be a good thing. During this pandemic all of our medical supplies and medical personnel are needed to treat current and future coronavirus patients. If you injure yourself you may not be able to be treated or you may have to wait a very long time. You will also risk a very high exposure level to the virus and you could take it home to your family.
“I am not suggesting anybody not ride or not be around horses. I am suggesting that we all be very careful. I am suggesting that we all think about risk and really think about which ones to take right now a little more than normal. We should all wear our protective gear around our horses if we can go to the barn. Horses are risky and we all feel that this risk is worth it for the rewards of riding and being with our horses.
“But right now the playbook changed on us a bit. This is temporary. This applies to all sports with risk. Don’t stop, but just open your eyes to what can go wrong and how to avoid that for a while.
So please dial back the risk during the pandemic so we can focus on getting this pandemic behind us.”
This reader does not implore us not to ride, but does advocate for increased vigilance. In the vortex that is the Facebook comments section of posts, I have seen both sides of the argument stated clearly, respectfully (most of the time) and with passion. People feel very strongly about whether or not we should ride.
However, we’re all exploring this new territory together and answers are hard to find. So we’re putting it back to our community: chime in with your thoughts and experiences in the comments section on our Facebook post. As horse owners, should we ride our horses? Or, by doing so, are we risking putting a greater strain on our medical community at a time when we should be doing everything in our power to keep from needing medical attention?
Please remember that we are a community, unified by our passion for horses. Let’s treat one another with respect as we try to have an open and frank conversation.