This whole shelter-at-home seems to be being very hard on many people. As one that lives out in the middle of no where with my family and my animals life isn't that much different than before. I work from home and we only go to the "big" town twice a month for groceries anyway. Of course those trips look a bit different now, but we still buy the same stuff, in the same quantities as we did before. I am one of the people in the susceptible categories. I have very bad asthma. So bad that I have to take my rescue inhaler several times a day and several times at night. All the time. I have to sleep propped up because if I lay flat I WILL stop breathing in the night. Then it takes many puffs of my inhaler to get the asthma under control and few times I have thought my hubby would need to take me to emergency room when my inhaler wasn't helping.
I have tried daily inhalers but they make me feel very sick AND they cost about $400 a month. I can't afford that. I also feel I can't really afford to get COVID-19 because it attacks the lungs. From what I have read and heard from my doctor, it can have lasting effects, causing long term damage to the lung tissue.
So we are very careful when we go out. We wash our hands constantly, use hand sanitizer, and when we get home we take our shoes off outside, sanitize them, then clean everything we bought, toss our clothes in the wash and take a shower. My Handsome Hubby is a Sheriff deputy and when he gets home from work he does the same. My oldest son works at the local hardware store. He wears gloves and washes his hands all day long. When he gets home he puts his clothes in the wash and takes a shower. We are doing our best to stay healthy.
Emotionally I am doing very well. Innately I am an introvert (hence I like writing!) and prefer to be home anyway. Now I don't have to come up with excuses about why I can't participate in this or that thing. Bliss!
I am spending quality time with my family and my ponies. I am enjoying re-building a relationship with Sky and strengthening the relationship with Zorro - which leads me to the point of this post!
On Facebook I keep reading posts written by people who are angry about others saying it may be best NOT to ride right now, in the hopes that we don't have an accident and end up at the, already stressed, hospitals. I understand both sides. As a person who is incredibly accident prone, if I did ride I would stop right now. I am just that person who falls off and breaks her arms, shatters her eye sockets and ends up at the hospital. However, I totally understand it from the other view point - that our horses are our emotional support animals and we NEED this time with them.
This leads me to another comment I keep seeing. People who are willing to give up riding for a short time in order to stay out of the hospitals. BUT they are stating that they will be giving their horse or pony a break for as long as this lasts and will not be going to the barn for the duration. (Obviously these are people who don't have their horses at home.) This one makes me super sad. For the person and the horse.
I had decided that Zorro needed some time with long lining and ground work and ended up taking the month of March off due to the weather and will work with him on the ground for the month of April.
No time spent on the ground is wasted time. Let me repeat this statement...
NO time spent on the ground is wasted time.
There are so many different styles of natural horsemanship, but one of the things they all have in common is the belief that ground work is important. It's important as far as teaching the horse and more importantly to me, it's helpful in building a strong relationship with your horse. Ground work, long lining, undemanding time as Parelli calls it, mirroring your horse through the Waterhole Rituals that Carolyn Resnick teaches or relaxation in movement as Elsa Sinclair teaches, tension release therapy as Anna Marciniak teaches, and even the walk-your-horse-100-miles-a-month challenge that is going on, are all ways to deepen the bond and connection between you and your horse. NOT ONE of these styles suggests that time spent in the saddle is more important than time spent on the ground. Why waste this time not playing or working with your horse or pony, simply because you feel you shouldn't ride? Why suggest that if you can't ride you can't get benefit from time spent with your horse or pony?
No time spent on the ground is wasted time.
One of my FAVORITE things to do with my ponies is hand graze. I make this a game by explaining to my pony when they can graze and when they can't so we can do some exploring and some matching strides, as we walk around looking for good grass patches. There is never a time that having a pony who understands when it can graze and when it is not appropriate, is a bad thing!! This is always a great lesson and one best learned while in hand, on a lead rope with your two feet on the ground. Maybe I'll make a video showing how I teach this, as it's one of my most asked questions.
I've been watching quite a few of Warwick Schiller's videos lately and this one talks about going to your horse and doing nothing:
This is similar to the waterhole ritual chair challenge. The idea is to spend time near your horse just enjoying their company. If they are out in pasture grazing just walk alongside them. It's amazing how relaxing and peaceful it is to sit with horses while they eat. I do this in my track when they are eating hay out of their hay nets! There is always a way to sit with them and do nothing.
When I used to board my big horse at an arena I would sit with him in his stall while he ate. If it was cold out I brought a sleeping bag to wrap myself in. I would make a nice fluffy straw chair and sit there reading my book while he ate. Those times were some of my favorite of our time together.
When I brought him home I spent HOURS being out in the pasture with him while he ate, or while he laid down flat to sleep. For a while he was alone here and he needed me to sit out there for hours, here and there, so he could fully relax and get his REM sleep. These things strengthened our bond so much. I do this same thing with Zorro and Sky. In fact when Zorro was a baby he would sleep IN my lap. I spent a lot of time sitting with him when he was napping his first two years. I'm sure this is why I was able to overcome his spookiness relatively easily. Because I have always been the passive leader who watches over him while he is resting.
**Please don't think I am saying you should not ride. You should do whatever you need to to stay sane and at peace during these difficult times. But do understand that I believe there is so much MORE to horses and ponies than simply riding and driving them.