Training Journal

If you’re riding a horse, you’ve already won.

A Enter Spooking wrote a post for posterity, recording the moment, “Because it’ll be interesting to read back in the future … I wanted to continue documenting some of this craziness.” AES: The New Normal

I am about to do the same. This may not interest anyone other than my future self. Mostly my thoughts about what the future holds. Things I would say if the question came up in conversation. If I had conversations with anyone outside the household. Yes, that does include conversations with my cats.

So. This is a record of my thoughts at the moment. I wonder how they will look in a month, a year, five years. Ridiculous? Prophetic? Pessimistic? Optimistic? Time will tell.

We have elected to follow a strict interpretation of “Stay home, except for essential activity.” The chef stocks up once a week at a grocery story. In the last few weeks, I have gone out for banking (drive-up), pet food, horse feed, and one trip to the barn [Thing].

In truth, not all that much different from my pre-lockdown lifestyle. I didn’t get out much. Not that I like it, but I am used to it.

Limited Turnout
As AES says, none of this is news. Y’all are getting the same info I am. From what I understand, testing and tracing would allow society to loosen up to some extent. What I would do, in order of increasing personal involvement.

First to come is schooling Rodney at the various facilities that we visit. As I mentioned, this falls easily into the See No One, Touch Nothing category [Lemonade]. We are often at the barns when no one else is around. If we do see folks, we exchange waves and brief chats from at least 10 feet away. We’ve even pondered a primitive sanitary arrangement with a bucket, shavings, and lid. We already bring our own water. We would never have to go near the barn. So, trips to the round pen at Stepping Stone Farm [Old Arena] and the jump course at Full Circle Horse Park [Super Duper] would be first out of the box.

Next, would be riding lessons with our horses. As above with the addition of a person standing in the middle of the ring. We have built-in social distance. As long as ground crew remembers not to wander over to kibbitz. Do you know how disconcerting it is to have instructor and ground crew in a huddle laughing together? I’m sure they are not talking about me. Not at all. Not in the slightest.

The next level of engagement would be riding lessons on school horses. Ironically, I have more of my own gear for saddle seat than I do for jumping. In either case, school-horse lessons would involve entering the barns, sharing equipment, getting near people. Maybe everyone else remembers to stay far enough apart. I could see myself falling into non-social distance habits quite easily.

Driving lessons for Milton are about on this level. Everyone stays far apart, except for hitching, which is where we need Coach Courtney’s help.

My other two regular pre-virus activities were dance class [Waving My Arms to Music] and tai chi exercise class. Both take place in large rooms and could easily be limited to a pre-determined capacity. On the other hand, they are a) within enclosed spaces and b) filled with heavy-breathing people who are expelling those pesky droplets with more force and sending them a lot farther than 6 feet, I can only assume. These would be the last activities back on my restricted schedule.

Those are the things on the top of my mind at the moment. I have other parts to my life than horses, at least a few. I have friends. I would like to see those friends. I didn’t do this often enough in the before times. Also club meetings, church, volunteering, dental appointments. The paraphernalia of life.

When will all this happen? Weeks? Months? No idea. Wouldn’t begin to speculate. Depends on how well/quickly we implement test & trace. It is startling to consider how long it may be before I can give a friendly hug to someone other than my husband.

Status Quo Ante
Again, from what I understand, life as we knew it doesn’t return until we have a vaccine, natural extinction of the disease, or a failsafe treatment.

Travel and vacations are right out. The last place I want to be is in the enclosed space of an airplane bringing the germs of three airports – at least – to my mother. Even with test and trace, do you really trust the process to be that foolproof?

Mass events are a no go.

“The Safra Center report and others, released by both right-leaning and left-leaning groups, broadly recommend a similar path forward: While certain nonessential businesses may be allowed to reopen in phases as COVID-19 testing and tracing is ramped up, bans against mass public gatherings — like concerts and sporting events — should remain in place until mass immunity or a vaccine is developed, which is expected to take at least another year.” Boston.com: The 2020 Boston Marathon was postponed due to the coronavirus. Could it be canceled altogether? DeCosta-Klipa, April 23, 2020

It is easy to see such a ban applying to marathons with their mass starts and crowds of spectators or to football games at stadiums with seating capacities of 100,000. The article above says that Germany is banning gatherings of over 5,000 people through October. Later in the article, a 50-person limit is discussed.

How would this apply to horse shows?

Horse shows are like golf tournaments. The activity itself is isolated. Out there on the fairway, you are yards from anyone. What about the start and finish? The scoreboard? The pro shop?

Horseback riding is an individual activity. Dressage riders, jumpers, and barrel racers are alone in the ring. Even in a group class, no one wants to be within six feet of another horse’s hind feet. What about warm-up? The in-gate? Narrow barn aisles? The concession stand?

I can envision logistics for golf and horse shows that would keep everyone apart. Would we remember to adhere to the new behaviors once we were back in places that are so familiar? Do we want to take that risk?

Speaking of risk. All of our opinions may be irrelevant. Scientific statements may be irrelevant. Political posturing may be irrelevant. If a restaurant/golf course/horse show arena opens, a customer gets ill, and that customer sues the company for providing an unsafe space, will the company be covered under their business policy? If the insurance companies say no, then opening ain’t happening.

Even if horse shows were available, would I go? I don’t know. I want to go. Don’t get me wrong. We all know I love me a horse show. But just because they have them, doesn’t mean I have to attend. Although I have no desire to get sick – I am a whiny princess when ill – I’m not as worried about catching it. Perhaps I should be. I’m more worried about being an inadvertent vector.

I have no answers. I don’t even have terribly original questions. I’ll be the first to admit that it costs me nothing to sit over here on the sidelines and pontificate. I’m not the one who has to think about canceling the Boston Marathon for the first time in a 100-plus-year history.

Stay safe. Stay sane.
Katherine Walcott

6 thoughts on “Whither?

  1. As always, a well thought out scenario. Thank you. It helps me envision my future.
    A year ago, this would have been one of your fiction pieces.

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