SmartPak Monday Morning Feed: Horses in the Time of Coronavirus

SmartPak blogger Katie Gazdziak discusses how she spends her time with her horse in the midst of COVID-19.

In these strange and scary times, horse owners are facing the same concerns when it comes to our health, financial security and the safety of our family and friends as everyone else. While those are absolutely important, I’m sure I’m not alone in worrying about my horse during this time as well, especially when so many barns are currently closing or restricting visits.

My horse is at a smaller boarding facility in Northern Illinois and I’m grateful that my barn has remained open for the time being. We can still visit and work with our horses, although we have been asked to limit visits, practice social distancing and disinfect after ourselves. I haven’t been able to ride as a part of the limited barn time, but I have been able to find other ways to work with my mare, Ember.

Photo by SmartPaker Katie Gazdziak

I’ve started grooming Ember outside when I visit to keep extra distance between myself and anyone else who might be there at the same time. As we start to get nice spring weather, Ember and I both enjoy our extra time outside! Even though I’m not riding, I still enjoy grooming as a way to spend time with my mare. It’s also a great way for me to check Ember over completely for any bumps, bruises or other injuries. As a bonus, tying Ember outside to groom her is good practice for her to experience a different environment and gives her practice being tied to a fence rather than on cross-ties in the barn.

Photo by SmartPaker Katie Gazdziak

I’ve also been hand-walking Ember on the roads around my barn. I’m lucky that my barn is in the country so the roads are pretty quiet with a good shoulder so there’s space for us to walk. Ember initially got a bit excited when we went away from the barn, so we started out just walking back and forth on a 50 ft. stretch of road directly across the road from the barn, but we’ve slowly started to go a bit farther. I also add a lot of stops, backups, changes of direction and circles to help Ember focus on me rather than getting silly about the new environment. I’m sure the folks who have seen me out walking with Ember think we’re very strange since we’re always doing something different but it seems like it has really helped Ember pay more attention to me on our walks.

Photo by SmartPaker Katie Gazdziak

I’ll be happy when things can go back to normal. Until then, I’m enjoying any time I can spend with my mare, even when we have to shift to a new routine during this time!

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