While the world around us is navigating the ‘new normal’ – anyone else think that sounds like an X-Factor boy band? – equestrians are having to overcome their own unique set of challenges in the Great Global Hunkering Down. The great news? None of us is alone in steadily going completely bonkers. In fact, a few of the following may sound rather familiar…
- With no competitions to go to and no parties to spruce up for, you and your horse start to, well, let yourselves go a bit.
Consider this your get-out-of-jail-free card for unpulled manes, grubby white bits, and a completely bra-less life.
- Your other half, unaccustomed to seeing you in the house so much, suggests that this could be a great opportunity to embark on a spring clean.
You do some covert Googling, discover that divorces will be hard to come by over the next few months, and instead, swiftly remove yourself for a ‘walk’.
- If your horse is kept at home, he starts to see a lot more of you. He’s not necessarily as thrilled about this as you are.
Working from home? Just a good excuse to go check every 15 minutes that all four legs are attached, right?
- Though you begin with the best intentions of using this extra time to swot up on theoretical riding knowledge, your attentions swiftly turn elsewhere for entertainment.
Sure, it might be ‘The Complete Guide to Dressage’ on the outside, but slipped between the pages? A battered copy of Jill’s Gymkhana, and you’re not even sorry about it.
- Bored of being grounded, you take to YouTube to fill the gap by rewatching old Badminton cross-country videos.
A glass of wine? Essential. Enough snacks to feed a small army? Vital. A breathless stream of commentary on how and why each rider had the result they did, despite the fact that you’re sitting in a room on your own? Inevitable, really.
- Deprived of access to your horse, you start practising schooling figures with the family pets.
As it turns out, teaching a Labradoodle to turn on the haunches is easier said than done. Consider this a challenge, Charlotte.
- You lose your mind briefly and start recording face-to-camera videos describing your day in increasing and unnecessary detail.
“Hey guys, just wanted to pop on and chat with you all. Loads of you have been asking me about my mucking out routine…”
- On day four of lockdown, you discover – after some extensive perusing of the local Ordnance Survey map – that an underutilised and rather overgrown public footpath runs adjacent to your livery yard.
“Nothing to see here, folks, just going for my state-sanctioned daily constitutional, with 23 packs of Polos to sustain me on my travels.”
- You wake up with a slightly tickly throat and start a no-nonsense process of self-diagnosis, before realising that the only illnesses you know how to recognise are the ones that are unique to equines.
Also, has anyone double-checked whether that’s a horse or a human thermometer?
- Your daydreams veer away from hunky men in tailcoats and clearing the final fence at Badminton, and start focusing on the lorry park party you’ll attend when this is all over.
Fortunately, you’ve already road-tested how many gins-in-tins you can fit in the lorry ice-box. It’s a lot – and it’s even more if you take those pesky ice boots out.
Stay strong out there, folks – and when in doubt, do as Arnold Schwarzenegger does: