Wednesday, May 13, 2020

best ride of my life

Maryland's governor announced last Wednesday that, effective the next morning, our Shelter in Place order would include "safe outdoor activities" as allowable exceptions. Even better - the order specifically noted horseback riding as one such activity.

That Friday, the Maryland Horse Council (an organization previously unknown to me that's emerged as the self-professed interpreter of state law for Maryland's horse industry) clarified that this order did in fact allow boarding facilities and lesson programs to resume operations.

Plus they released recommendations and guidelines for how to do so safely. For instance, barn owners were encouraged to schedule separate blocks of time for barn staff, visiting professional practitioners (farriers, vets, etc), boarders, etc. Social distancing remains the law of the land, and masks are required in shared spaces.

Then followed an interminable weekend while my barn worked on said schedule. Sure, plenty of interested parties (including yours truly) have offered unsolicited suggestions for weeks. And there's no shortage of other MD barns who have already figured out how to do it -- so you wouldn't think they'd have to reinvent that particular wheel.

But every place is different, I guess. And mgmt preferred to take an aggressively careful approach, so it took a few days to settle on a tentative plan..... Admittedly some of us I have been sliiiiiiightly impatient, haha. Tho yea.... obvi I don't disagree with the motivation.

home again <3
BUT!! But --- it is happening, yo. The Week 1 schedule was released yesterday morning, and I'd logged my first ride by midday haha. Bc... ya know.... technically I work a 9-5 job, but realistically I've worked from home for 4 years now. My colleagues basically only care that my work gets done and that I'm responsive. Otherwise I can spend my time as I see fit.

Which means I volunteered for daytime appointments at the barn since obviously many other boarders don't have the same flexibility. So let them have dibs on the evening slots, right?

The schedule itself is.... limited. Boarders get exactly 1hr per visit - mgmt is adamant about this. My inner #dramabrat wants to point out that it takes 15min to retrieve my animal from the farthest reaches of his pasture. And state for the record that some folks at this farm have been allowed to ride throughout the entire shutdown (acknowledged to me in actual writing by one of the managers, wtf), and that the last time I drove in to drop off supplies, there was a friggin party going on in the front field.

But. Never mind all that. Water under the bridge. Bc guys --- I got to ride my horse <3 <3 <3

wheee chasing bobcats!!!!
And OMFG guys. Charlie is fucking WILD right now haha. Hahahahaha. Holy shit, yo.

This horse is so feral and feisty, it's unreal lol. Luckily I managed to fling myself onto his back without much issue, and not fall off while he spooked and snorted at a 4-wheeler and bobcat I let pass us. Which like, I let them pass us bc I figured we'd just get out for a relaxing meander. Haha.

Yea. Instead, it actually turned out to be useful to have the machinery in front of us so Charlie couldn't just bolt off into the sunset as we made our way to the trails <3

Once in the woods... Oh man, how to describe?? It was friggin glorious. This horse is so full of beans right now, I love it. We trotted and cantered and leapt over all the little streams and logs and natural ditches. Charlie pranced (!!) around, scooting at all manner of invisible goblins, and almost straight up dropped me when a branch got stuck in his tail. And basically just felt like exactly 1 Million Dollars of Grade A Thoroughbred haha.

Plus, obviously on the last little rise headed back home, racing the clock naturally, we rolled on into one big ol' run up the hill <3 <3 <3

i had no idea at the time, but charlie's groom happened to observe the first half of our little run home <3
is this a zoomed gif of a zoomed video? yes. pixelated as all hell? yes.
#dealwithit <3 <3 <3

What a feeling, guys. A feeling I have so so desperately needed these past few weeks. Exactly 8 weeks since my last ride on Charlie, not that anybody's counting...

It was very challenging to fit my entire visit into exactly 1hr... But y'all know me. "Ruthlessly efficient" is basically my lifestyle, so we made do. And I'm on the books for 3 more such appointments this week. Hopefully after this first week they'll be open to feedback on optimizing the schedule to keep on smoothing out a safe routine for all involved. Fingers crossed.

And meanwhile, holy crap I'm just so relieved to finally see some light at the end of this particular tunnel. Obviously I don't want to celebrate too early bc... well. You all know. Nobody really knows what is going to happen and things could change really fucking fast.

But I'm hopeful. And armed with masks, gloves, sanitizer, and my own personal brand of charm that makes social distancing a breeze <3


41 comments:

  1. Ahhhh yess! And that is AWESOME that the groom captured it on film. I love this for you! Fingers crossed for a 2 hour block of time in the very near future.

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    1. ha i was so excited when she sent me that video!!! such a perfect moment <3 <3

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  2. Yaaaaasssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Too bad about the short block of time, but still a Yaaasss!!!!! lol

    This post makes me very happy... :-)

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    1. makes me pretty darn happy too <3 and yea, here's hoping for more time with my special pony asap!

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  3. Yaaaaay! So happy to see those happy brown ears again. I will say, I have no idea how you get anything done at the barn in ONE hour. We have two hours at my barn (VERY SMALL barn) but even then I feel like I can only do the bare minimum.

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    1. 1 hour is ridiculous and not at all in the spirit of the legal guidelines. i'm trying to be patient tho, mgmt is very nervous and is trying to be extremely cautious. hopefully they'll be more reassured and ease restrictions if things can go smoothly this week?

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  4. I'm so glad you got to ride your horse again! Sounds like it went as well as it could have. Here in Greater Rednecklandia, Lesson Barn is opening up for lessons as of this coming Friday and also I have a SADDLE FITTER APPOINTMENT FOR TOMORROW!! Bird's saddle has not really fit him for about three months, hence the spring of bareback. We need to see the saddle fitter toot sweet. (Yeah, okay, tout de suite. You know what I mean.) And that's tomorrow! I am so excited. Now, if only the weather could get on board with the program...

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    1. oh man, i'm halfway excited for you to get your saddle fitting appointment.... and halfway skeptical of that entire profession LOL. baggage, i has it hahaha.... for real tho, literally anything moving in the direction of normalcy is pretty freakin exciting!

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    2. I agree that there's snake oil in the field of saddle fitter... too many tales of woe out there for it to be otherwise. :) I'm so excited because this is our regular fitter (Yay Emily!) who knows her stuff. She's got my back or, really, my horse's back. :)

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    3. ha that's excellent! and yea, totally agreed, once you find that one good practitioner who gets you (and more importantly, your horse), they're worth their weight in gold! i had one fitter i liked reasonably well (even tho she sold me a shitty fucking saddle that i then ended up selling back through her and all told lost like $500 in the whole fiasco...), but she ended up moving away. ever since then, i've worked with a few but on very very limited and explicit terms haha

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  5. SO happy youre back at the barn!! Any time is better than no time!

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    1. yesssss completely agreed! esp considering i'll be able to lay eyes on my horse more in this one present week than i've seen him at all over the entire preceding 8 week ;)

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  6. I had it down to an exact science of getting in and out of the barn in 90 minutes when I had Promise. But not sure I could do 1 hour! :-O So glad you got to see and ride Charlie!

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    1. lol yea i'm with ya -- i can make it happen, but it's not always easy lol. like.... i'm one of those owners who can easily spend 25 minutes just grooming haha. plus like.... high mileage horses like charlie do well with ~10min walking at the beginning and end of every ride. so, that's 20min. 15min to get him out of the field.... and ok let's trim down that grooming + tacking session to 15min, and boom, you get 10min for any serious riding, and everything else you needed to do while at the barn, like sweep up the aisle, stuff hay nets, refill supplement baggies.... soooo.... yea. 60 min just doesn't quite cut it, esp considering there's no real legal justification for it!! hopefully after this week they'll figure that out...

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  7. Hehehehe - the feeling of the first ride back is MAGIC! :)

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  8. 1 hour is definitely tight, but yay for Charlie time!!!!
    My state has said horses are not included in phase 1 reopening, but they have permitted boarders. So we're still in weird limbo over here.

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    1. ugh that limbo is so hard. i actually expected MD to be one of the slower states since our gov is president of the NGA and is trying to lead by example etc.... but then again we have fairly powerful boating and horse industry lobby groups that i think were exerting a TON of pressure for allowing these particular activities to be excepted. bc technically MD hasn't even started our phase 1 either yet --- we just amended the stay at home order to allow these exceptions. idk. it's all crazy, and a little concerning how differently everyone is doing things. hopefully it works out tho... and hopefully you get good (or at least more clear!) news soon !!

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  9. Woohoo!!! Go you two!! I have no clue how you manage that in 1 hour lol Hopefully after this week they'll let you have a 2 hour block or so, especially if most appointments might be at night!

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    1. oh man, yea the hour is reeeeally tricky. i got lucky yesterday since my horse was in a paddock for the farrier, so i didn't have to hike out to timbuktu (15min!!) to bring him in. at least the evening folks will have their horses already stalled, so they won't have to waste part of their hours on that (at least, until turnout switches to overnight once we get closer to summer....)

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  10. Glad you guys are opening up, I would have a hard time squeezing my whole riding visit into an hour!

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    1. ugh yea the hour limit was hard. esp considering it was at a fixed time and i live so far away, i was worried about being late. so instead i was early, and was just gonna sit in my car until the clock struck my hour so i could hop out and not waste a second haha. naturally, tho, one of the owner's daughters was parked in the driveway when i pulled in and pointed out to me that i was early. which like.... is pretty fucking rich considering this was the same person who hosted a PARTY at the farm almost two weeks ago when i was still begging to just be allowed to drop off supplies....

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  11. yayayaayayayayayaayayay!!!!! what a glorious first ride back! Go Charlie all spicy! I just started riding my not-so-spicy old man last Friday (and again this morning) and while he's been in full care with his leasers, I am fully NOT fit. We did 20 min of trotting and I was dead for the rest of the day.

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    1. lol i LOVE spicy Charlie tho <3 <3 <3 he's just as good and sweet and saintly as normal Charlie, just, ya know, SPICY and oh-so-impressed with his wild self haha!!! and omg it's fun....

      so glad you got to ride your horse too, yay Cosmo!! tho i'm impressed you stuck in there for 20min of trotting, holy crap. the first time i got to trot one of my friend's retirees a couple weeks ago, i barely made it a couple laps haha womp

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    2. oh don't be confused. that's just the sum of our ride. but i did do two 10-min trot sets with a long walk between

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  12. so glad you got to ride even in such an abbreviated time. Even I couldnt do an hour! And I am a slacker :) HA.

    We get two hours at our place. But i try not to take more than an hour and half if I can. Including riding!

    I bet it was so much fun for you to actually ride your own horse again!! YAY

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    1. oh man, so much fun to see charlie again. i'm beyond grateful to have had access to my friend's retirees and that adorable little pony during this crazy time. but charlie is different, he's my unicorn, my own special bronto <3 <3

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  13. Yaaaaay!!! I'm so glad you got to ride again. Quick question: if you're riding on the trails what difference does it make if you ride an hour or two?

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    1. lol, THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION >:(

      in fact, i have a NUMBER of questions about the logic that went into developing this schedule. i agree with the intent, but the method is..... yea. questionable. had they asked me for help in creating the rules and schedule, i'd have done it reeeeeally fucking differently. but.... they didn't ask me. so... womp womp.

      realistically tho, the rules have more to do with how much time individuals spend on the property, and particularly within shared spaces. they only want a very limited number of people on the entire (gigantic) property at any given moment, regardless of what or where those people are, thus the time limits. this current iteration of the rules isn't really in keeping with the spirit of the legal guidelines, but i think at this point they're more worried about just getting people to follow rules in the first place. theoretically, maybe? idk...

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  14. Yay I'm so happy for you! 1 hour is very tight, but it is definitely better than nothing!

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    1. 1,000% better than nothing, and for that i'm so so grateful!! <3 <3 <3

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  15. So glad to see this!!!

    I am in the same position as you were - allowed per the governor but still waiting on the barn. :( I have a "training" scheduled this weekend on new procedures for using the barn and hopes that they will schedule time for us starting next week.

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    1. ugh i really feel ya on that. somehow it was almost harder to be so close to getting access than it was when we didn't really have any idea of when it would end. sorta like how when you really have to pee, it gets worse and worse the closer you get to the bathroom??? sorry if that's TMI haha, but that's just how it felt to me LOL

      for real tho, maybe i have a different view of the world since i have a desk job doing data analytics and problem solving etc, but i don't understand why more barns don't sorta work together to come up with solutions for these types of problems. like, sure, every barn is unique and has different circumstances and facilities and programs etc, but they shouldn't each have to invent a totally new set of parameters and logistics for boarder visit schedules. sigh...

      anyway, good luck with the training and hopefully they get that schedule rolled out for you asap!

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  16. YAAAYYYYY!!! My BM has been doing one hour scheduling this whole time unless requested otherwise, but that's with the understanding the hour is for arena time, not the whole barn experience. Yikes, I can't imagine how much that must suck!

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    1. yea it sucks haha. a lot. and it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. i DOES make sense to limit how many people are in a building at a time, or how many people visit the property in a day i suppose.... but once a person is on the property or inside a building, it hardly matters if they're there for an hour or the whole day.

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  17. yay, I am so happy for you :D

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    1. thank you <3 <3 i'm still walking on air haha, and can't wait for the next ride!

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  18. YAY!!! 1 hour isn't much time, but any time is better than none, right? Charlie seems no worse for the time off. I hope things open more next week for you

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    1. thanks - me too! and yea, charlie's been absolutely fine with all the time off. i like to believe that he needs me micromanaging his every move but.... honestly, this horse has ALWAYS taken the "retired" part of retired racehorse wayyyyy too seriously LOL

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