Monday, April 13, 2020

news from the front

Like many of you, it's been a few weeks now since covid-related rules, guidelines and regulations have completely and utterly interrupted my horse habit. Basically, all things Charlie have ground to a halt. Absolutely and without exception.

now i'm allowed to visit my horse once every 2 weeks to drop off supplies
Refining our ring-craft in dressage tests? lol.... nope.

Carrying an uphill balance consistently in show jumping? ....maybe later ha

Building strength and fitness to carry us through when all else fails?, at least he's getting turnout?

it was so nice to get to see him! altho, i was surprised to find them out on grass a month early
And to be perfectly honest with you all?? That's not even what's occupying the bulk of my attention at this point. Rather, it's missing the simpler side of things. The simple joy I get from being in my horse's company. The fact that, even tho I drive 45min-1hr to get there, just seeing Charlie is usually enough to melt away the stresses from my day.

Winston Churchill is widely celebrated for a few reasons, but also credited with noting that "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." I'd say it's simpler than that tho - time spent even just in the company of horses is always time well spent. For me, and for many of you too.

it's the sort of change in a horse's routine you'd wish management would communicate... esp since charlie has a history of colic during this transition period
Losing this special time is... well, honestly, a heartbreaking adjustment. For everyone.

I already wrote about having reservations on how Charlie's barn management is handling these completely unprecedented circumstances. Had they bothered to ask me, or confer any degree of authority on me.... Well, ya know, haha.... I'd probably do things differently. But.... Nobody asked me. And nobody handed me the reins.

And so, because I *do* agree with the intent of the rules, even if I would design them differently myself.... ya know.... I comply. Sigh.

but. eh. there's not a lot of grass yet. and he's fine. honest to god, happy as a clam, doing just fine living his life every day as a horse, just a horse who gets a little less attention now
Hiring a groom from among the existing staff (ie, that enviable class of "essentials") was hands down a game changer for my emotional state. There were a few options on how to go about this. Originally, I planned to post on the barn's page asking whether anybody was interested in earning a few bucks. There are plenty of experienced ppl on the staff, ya know?

But.... After thinking on it, I changed tactics. Bc.... I didn't want someone who was just in it for the cash, or someone who was going to be the type of "experienced" that makes them believe they know what's best for my horse even if it doesn't align with my wishes.

from here on are pictures my groom J has sent. she figured charlie out right away haha, and loves playing with him!
Rather, I wanted someone who was going to approach it out of love for horses, love for learning, and excitement at the opportunity to increase their responsibilities. And I planned to pay plenty well enough to forgive my sliiiiiiightly micro tendencies haha. (You all read my letter to this groom, you know exactly what I'm talking about, let's be real!).

So I reached out to an inexperienced high schooler and offered her the gig. And she's been ahhhhmazing. She LOVES Charlie (what's not to love tho, ya know?) and over the past few months had already demonstrated a quickness to learn and an eagerness to put the horses first, rather than cut corners. Any of you out there who have ever had to train barn staff - you know exactly the type of worker I'm describing.

case in point lol: charlie likes to help out by lending an extra hand mouth to hold grooming tools
True, the inexperience means that she's less likely to recognize early warning signs or small discrepancies. Tho, obviously, such should be covered under my standard full care board agreement anyway, the whole reason I'm deemed not essential (cough cough....).

she made homemade cookies for all the horses too, and took videos of them snacking!!
But... Idk. Charlie is a sensitive soul. He needs to be loved and petted and have someone tell him he's pretty and kiss his nose. And he's getting that in SPADES with J. Plus... probably along the way, this young rider will also learn about some of the other aspects of observing a horse's day to day health and well being.

I was in a similar position when I was her age --- tho I'd already been riding for quite a while and had more experience in that regard. But I craved nothing more in the world than that sort of special responsibility and special relationship with individual horses. I guess it comes with the territory of not owning, and not even seeing a path to ownership.

lol she made a good effort at trying to get him to eat a peep on easter too. no dice tho, turns out there's something charlie WON'T eat, who knew!!
Regardless, tho, getting her twice weekly updates and pictures is such a relief to me. I know Charlie is in good hands. And now I'm allowed to drop off supplies once every two weeks, which also helps me just confirm with my own eyes that everything is.... Fine.

she might be inexperienced at horses, but as a highschooler she certainly knows her way around social media 
enjoy this compilation of the many videos she's sent me! my personal favorite is the clip of charlie standing in his patented statuesque majestic way, which she overlaid with the 'calvary charge' music lol

It's fine. Charlie is fine. He's happy, content, doing his thing. He's healthy and dirty and losing fitness at an astounding rate. And not at all perturbed by that or anything else in this world haha. Charlie has always taken the "retired" part of Retired Racehorse wayy too seriously, let's be real.

So I'm ok. It's ok. It's going to be fine.

J also got the honors of giving charlie his birthday groom and apple <3 <3 <3 this big guy is 11 now, can you believe it?
What is not fine, tho, is letting this general malaise, this general feeling of frustration, sadness, concern... translate into hostility (overt or otherwise) toward others.

As far as I can tell, everyone (not just the horse community) is feeling the effects of prolonged uncertainty and angst. It's scary. People are fucking scared. And maybe a little angry. Maybe it's getting better... Maybe it isn't... Maybe at this point you find yourself distrustful of whatever news comes through. It's just... hard to know.

screen grabs from aforementioned statuesque majesty lolol
And there is a LOT of blame going around. At all levels of society. Everyone is suffering in some way. Many from losing someone they loved, or from having been sick themselves. And many more from losing their jobs or livelihood. Plus, ya know, 98% of the population experienced at least some small degree of unwelcome upheaval.

And lacking any sort of tangible concrete target (bc viruses are invisible), it's unclear how to vent all this pent up frustration, fear and anger. So people are going straight up vigilante.

she's gotten into the habit of grooming him out in the field lately. imo that's not ideal in the case where she might identify a wound or something... but eh, so far so good
I read an article about how some vandals slashed the tires of car parked at boat yard. Presumably bc they figured it was a vacationer going out on a yacht. Actually, it was a nurse self isolating from her family, sleeping on a boat between shifts.

Closer to home, I've seen some *insane* comment threads on social media. Blasting people every which way from Sunday for barring boarders from the facilities ("IT'S ILLEGAL!") or for choosing to ride ("SO SELFISH, THE RISK!"), and literally everything in between.

charlie's certainly not complaining, anyway
And even at my own farm, people are slinging venom - including at Charlie's nascent groom - about why some staff are allowed when maybe the owners see themselves as better qualified for that staff position. Or why they don't trust management after years of (silent) unrest or whatever.

Idk. It's hard. So so so hard. For everyone who is angry, I.... totally relate. Bc I'm angry too. If I had control over this situation, I'd do it really really really fucking differently. But. I don't. I have zero control right now. And it fucking sucks.

sorta sad to be missing all the rest of spring at the farm. but that's ok.... we'll be back eventually. probably.
But it's going to be ok. Maybe. Probably. Maybe not in the ways we'd expect or wish, and maybe not perfectly. But it's also not the fault of the people around us who are also facing exactly the same unprecedented situation.

Maybe there will be a reckoning later. I don't know. But.... Honestly I'm just gonna try to keep my peace and hold fire until the dust has settled. Just gonna try to make good choices. Gently poking and  prodding when possible, sure. But resisting the temptation toward outrage, at basically all costs.

And in the meantime... I'll do whatever the hell I can to stay in the good graces of the people who *do* have control over the care of my animal, Charlie, whom I love. Because at some point theoretically this current situation will be over, right?


  1. Hugs. I see my boys everyday and I'm still feeling most of this. The trying to avoid non-essential/emergency vet stuff is hard with Nay right now because he's fine, but definitely not right. It's so freaking hard! And to be honest? He'd probably be better off if he was still in work... And while I'm pretty sure my barn might be open, I'm not taking any chances.

    1. yea.... pretty sure most of 'em would be better off in work. charlie 100%. glad Nay is fine tho!

  2. oh god, I feel this post so hard.

    I'm so glad you find a horse crazy kid to love on Charles. It's funny, I actually had a half boarder for Spicy who was a college student (she's gone now, bc all the colleges are closed...) but for a few weeks it was so great to have someone else to see him and ride him on the weeks where I was just too slammed to go out. And I wasn't LOOKING for a half boarder per se but she just reminded me so much of me...

    the 2nd half of this post speaks to me too. I'm lucky enough that my barn isn't closed (who would it be closed to... I'm the only boarder...) so I've been able to work with spicy. We're doing mostly ground work but I'm seeing him a lot and it's helping. And I'm afraid to post things because I don't want to get myself ripped a new asshole, you know?

    UGH anyway. sorry for the novel. <3

    1. Megan, SAME re: second half. I also am second guessing all of my horse-related posting during this time. So much anger and vitriol.

    2. the horse crazy kids are the best, ya know? at the barn i managed in rochester back in my college days, one of my jobs was coordinating and training the barn rats, and you could always tell which kids were really in it for the horses. it's honestly a huge deal to me to have that for charlie right now!

      and yea i feel ya on being worried about what to post. it's so hard. just in general with life right now, i'm struggling between two halves of my brain. one side is really really preoccupied with my own drama and sadness and feelings of personal loss, and the other side kinda recognizes that there are bigger issues at hand here...

      really tho, all the misplaced anger, attacks, and hostility out there right now is kinda concerning. i hope neither of you have been on the receiving end!!!

    3. I've heard this sentiment from other friends too who are still riding. "There is too much hate out there right now and I don't want to post a pic/status/post" and that makes me so very sad. :(

    4. emma we have not been flamed but I've definitely been trying to be ambiguous. At some point when all the trees are green you'll be able to tell the pictures were not taken in winter tho :P :P

    5. lol i mean, i get it, but i also think it's silly ;) esp bc some of the ambiguity i've seen actually boarders on dishonesty. which... personally i really don't understand. but ya know, the internet is a weird place and we all have to protect ourselves in whatever way works, and only share what we're comfortable sharing. bc... yea, there are assholes out there. frankly tho, they're probably already judging you no matter what you do ;)

  3. Sending love your way. This is a HARD time.

  4. The whole world could use a little more compassion right now - I'm seeing so much (I had to stop reading) negativity on every social media post/news story etc. that it is really disheartening.

    I'm so happy that Charlie is getting some attention from a keen young person. I love that she sends you pics and videos too.

    1. i love that she sends me pictures and videos too!! (and am annoyed my video above doesn't seem to be working, womp). it makes a world of difference and i am so so so appreciative!

      and yea the negativity... it's been simmering for so long. we've been so conditioned to it already, have almost become numb. it's like so many society issues that have sorta been simmering for a long time are suddenly broken open and i'm worried it'll get ugly ugh. just like... yea. compassion, needs more of that!

    2. UPDATE - i fixed the video haha <3

    3. i know, right??? it makes my day too every time she sends me another <3 <3 <3

  5. All I'm gonna say is, you should have moved in on Flacco when you had the chance. He could have bought you a giant private farm to keep Charles on, but noooo. AND NOW LOOK WHERE WE ARE.

    1. honestly i'm convinced all our current day issues can be traced back to that original root sin of flacco leaving baltimore... womp.

  6. Hang in there my friend! I hope we all come out of this global social disruption stronger than before!

    1. yea i'm hopeful too. hopeful that we get there sooner rather than later.... but hopeful all the same... ugh.

  7. People are getting crazy. My company actually had to remind people that comments and discussion on the company Facebook page need to be professional.

    I am very allergic to horses (lol) so I used to groom outside all the time in the spring. It helped give me more clean air to breathe. If wouldn't worry too much. If she finds a wound, all she has to do is bring him in to treat it.

    1. oh geez.... it's amazing to me that people can be so forgetful of the sheer size and public nature of comments on social media... and that just bc you feel outrage in the heat of this specific moment, doesn't mean you'll still want to stand by that comment down the line or in front of different audiences lol... sigh.

      anyway tho, yea in terms of grooming him outside it's basically fine. i want to be micro and controlling of the whole thing, but realistically i'm just not gonna get everything i want here, so i'll just roll with it.

  8. Same to your entire post.
    Cosmo's highs chool lesser is still going out and sending pics and hand walking him (riding when it's dry enough) and she LOVES him (she bought him a matching pad and bonnet before all this). And I love giving her a taste of owning her own horse. And Cosmo loves her too.
    I'm having more grumpy days than usual, and I'm sure it's from a number of things, but not the least my lack of horse time. But, I'm trying not to take it out on anyone (poor hubby stuck inside with me, people who are still able to ride, my cooped up doggos, the guy at the store without a mask). I'll find something new this week to occupy my time and get me out of this funk.

    1. aw that's so awesome that Cosmo is getting that love tho! it's so so so so important. and good luck to you in figuring out some sort of stop gap occupation. honestly the only thing that has really worked for me is.... more horses haha. going to see those old retired geezers at my friend's private home barn has been such a balm. but ya know.... even that probably constitutes shades of gray...

  9. It's a really hard time, for sure. Not that we didn't know that this could be a possibility - we've been warned that we were one plane ride away from a pandemic. People are scared and angry. I've read that some in the western provinces have been demonstrating against the government measures to protect us. Idiotic but there you have it.

    I have been able to ride and it's been a godsend. So far no one has blasted me for riding but I worry that it sounds like I'm gloating when I'm not. I'm glad that you have a teenager.

    1. ugh yea, for sure. there's just so much noise and distrust and misinformation, it's honestly so hard to even come up with any sort of rational thought. much easier to just spew anger in any/every direction, i guess. and fwiw, i'm glad you're still riding. personally, i don't understand the anger toward that specific activity. like, my barn is closed bc it's a high traffic area with a lot of people in and out. high traffic = high spread risk. your home barn? it's an entirely different story. just, ya know, haha be careful and maybe don't take this time as an opportunity to learn how to do roman riding with carmen and irish ;)

  10. The situation in Maryland is upsetting :( I didn't even realize until yesterday that there were so many restrictions on just going outside. It's good to see that Charlie has a loving groom, though. The set up is likely as beneficial for her as it is for you.

    1. yea it's a crazy world right now. idk about restrictions on going outside, per se, but generally speaking maryland was definitely an early adopter of a lot of these social distancing policies. i suspect bc gov hogan chairs the NGA and is probably on the phone all day long with governors of more recalcitrant states, and is probably trying to lead by example or whatever. idk, ya know? it is what it is.

      but yes, i'm extremely grateful that charlie's got J watching out for him, and have a reasonably good feeling that J's enjoying it too! small wins, right?

  11. It is a really frustrating and scary time for sure. I'm glad that I don't have a horse at a big barn right now because I imagine they all have some level of drama surrounding obeying stay at home/social distancing orders and with all the other RL drama going on, it's nice to not also have barn drama on top of that.

    Hard to imagine what good will come of being rude to the people taking care of your horse, even if you do disagree with what they are doing.. the horses all look happy at least!

    1. yea agreed completely. like.... when all this craziness is over, people are still gonna remember if you behave like a complete and utter jackass, ya know?

  12. I was going to say hugs to you, but that's not social distance PC so you'll have to settle from a fist bump even virtually 6 feet away.

  13. Sounds like you have a wonderful kiddo helping you!! The video from her is so cute!!

  14. What a great solution to be able to still vicariously pamper your horse while at the same time offering a great opportunity to someone else (I was a horseless teen & would have been thrilled with an offer like this). I also did read your letter & I admit that I did laugh because I thought wow, someone finally outdid me in my obsessively detailed horse notes! But it was a laugh from a friendly place!

    Fear & feeling out of control makes people do all kinds of crazy things -- and in my long experience people will always find some reason to be an asshole. I do ride my horses (when they aren't lame), but if anyone gets upset about it, they can rest assured that my phone service here is so bad & no one can see me, so if I fell off & got seriously hurt, no one would probably know & it's doubtful I could call anyone, so I definitely won't be "using up" any overtaxed medical services!


Thanks for leaving a comment! You may need to enable third party cookies in your browser settings if you have trouble using this form.