Horse owners have their animals to thank for keeping their spirits up in the face of adversity and uncertainty amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a straw poll of consumers around the UK, ETN discovered that many are using the time to spring clean their stable yard, give their tack a complete overhaul or repair the paddock fencing.
Other more ambitious projects include laying a new arena surface and creating a wash box. A mother and daughter who run a livery yard told us: “We going to use the time we’re not at shows to build a cross country course around our fields.”
Many owners are understandably worried about family, jobs and when all this is going to end. But confess that it’s time spent with their horses that provides welcome relief.
“I go out for a ride and, for an hour or so, forget about the nightmarish situation,” said one. “We’re so lucky to be able to ride and care for our horses; it’s got to be good for our mental health.”
Although sales of non-essential items are suffering, horses (and other animals) still need to be fed. And following a wet winter with grazing still sodden in many cases, they require bedding too.
Another horse owner talked about having “the luxury” of more time to spend halter training a two year old – and is buying a new headcollar to do so. While her friend has just ordered some pole blocks, cones and a book on pole work exercises to get cracking with some equine strengthening exercises.
Suppliers are issuing plenty of emails explaining what precautions they’re taking and how it’s ‘business as usual’. The more inventive are going the extra mile to come up with actual ideas for activities and reasons why customers should make specific purchases now…
Provided correct safeguards are adhered to, several horse owners tell us they’re happy to book saddle fit checks, dentist and physio appointments. “We’re getting all the MoTs done now, so we’re ready to roll as soon as we can,” said one.
With the spring grass growing apace, all agree that horses need their weight controlling, with exercise if appropriate, and for normal routines to be maintained to keep them healthy.
Getting worm counts done, reviewing horses’ diets by calling a feed company helpline, giving the grooming kit a revamp and sorting out rugs for washing and repair were also mentioned as jobs to be ticked off.
And no matter what else is happening in the world, said one owner, there’s nothing more pleasant than spending a warm spring afternoon giving a horse a hair-do.