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Horse Owners Share Impact of Quarantines Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Photo by Anna Elizabeth Photography/Shutterstock

Businesses and associations have been impacted within the horse industry as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but individual horse owners have also had to deal with drastic changes to their horse lifestyle. We talked to a variety of owners across the country who shared how the quarantine and stay-at-home orders in their states have impacted their time with their horses, whether it means they can’t get to their horses or whether they can and have been taking advantage of more downtime to achieve new horse goals.

From Patricia J. in Kentucky

I am extremely fortunate because my four horses are at home with me on my farm. I recently rescued a Thoroughbred; I definitely did not need a fourth horse at my age of 65, and in January of all months. But I didn’t want him to end up on the slaughter truck. He has actually been a blessing in disguise. I truly believe he was roughly handled all of his 14 years, and he is very head shy, so it has been an adventure bonding with him ever so slowly during this isolation period.

From Jennifer K. in California

[Horse owners] are still able to go to the barn, because there are never more than a few people there at a time, and there’s a ton of room for everyone to give space. My horse has been out of real work for a while now with an injury, so I’m not missing out with the shows being cancelled.

From Heidi M. in Colorado

My horses are in the backyard getting more attention than usual! It’s a bummer not to have friends over for my daughter to ride with, though.

From Rebekah T. in California

We practiced social distancing while hauling out to trail ride and get some fresh air for the horses. I hauled the horses in my trailer, but my riding buddy drove separately. We weren’t in the trailer together at all. We didn’t share snacks or have lunch together afterwards. It can work! Everyone needs to follow guidelines and get through this.

From Kelly R. in Kentucky

Starting tomorrow, boarders at my barn can’t see their horses—so no more riding, grooming or visiting. I canceled my annual Aiken, S.C., training trip; our horse trial was canceled with no refunds; riding lessons are canceled until further notice; and there are no more social meetups at the barn or group trail rides.

From Jessica B. in Ohio

My horse is on self-care, so I still go see him every day. Luckily, the barn is huge, and even on a gorgeous day there’s rarely more than 10 people there at once. I’ve been keeping my gloves on and sanitizing as soon as I take them off.

From Jill D. in Utah

I was supposed to have my mare’s hock fused, but all elective veterinary procedures are canceled, because they require personal protective equipment (PPE). She’s lame on that side and this was the next step. Her life isn’t at risk if she doesn’t have it done.

From Kjersti H. in California

Fortunately, our barn is 80% trail riders or “weekend warriors,” with a few retired and rescue/rehab horses. We don’t have a lesson program or trainer, so the traffic is pretty minimal, and the barn manager is working hard to make sure the barn can stay open. I know several training barns are scheduling when people can come out; I’m glad we haven’t gotten to that point. Unfortunately, there were so many people out on the city-owned trails around our barn that the city shut them down, which is a bummer. Now my horse has to stay on property just like I have to stay in my house!

From Erin H. in Kentucky

I bought a new horse in the fall and intended to give him the winter to decompress and start up in spring. He’s (relatively) big and powerful and a bit hot; normally I’d be fine with it, but I honestly don’t feel all that comfortable getting on him and potentially getting hurt and taking up health services and/or being exposed in a health-care setting. So, he’s getting a longer break than planned. I’ll send him to my trainer for a tune-up when life resumes. I’m just glad mine are at home, so I can keep taking care of them myself. I did stock up on bedding and feed more than usual to minimize outings.

While horse owners are having various experiences with coronavirus-related quarantines, hopefully all will return to normal as soon as possible. However, we know horse owners, and the horse industry as a whole, is resilient and can weather the effects of coronavirus.

Complete COVID-19 Coverage

Holly Caccamise

Holly Caccamise has been with Horse Illustrated and Young Rider since 2007, and in August 2019, she took over as head editor. She’s been instrumental in the production of both magazines and helped Horse Illustrated win a 2018 American Horse Publications Media Award in the General Excellence Self-Supported Publication (circulation 15,000 and over) category. Before getting involved in the editorial side of print media, she worked as an award-winning ad copywriter for Thoroughbred Times magazine. Caccamise has her MS in Animal Science from the University of Kentucky, where she studied equine nutrition and exercise physiology, and her Bachelor’s from UCLA in Biology. Caccamise has also worked as a research assistant, horse camp counselor teaching riding and vaulting, and as a top-level show groom in the eventing world, where she continues to compete her horse, Artie, at the lower levels.

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