A note from the Editor:
Here at Cayuse Communications, we’ve been thinking about our community of horse owners and riders. How best to come together and share during this time? We’ve reached out to friends to see how they are making lemonade from lemons and coping with the strains of the pandemic.
The Cayuse Corona Community is a recurring feature. We’re from California, New Mexico, Maine, Utah, North Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Virginia, and Colorado. Please join us by leaving your comments below.
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Kimberly Loveless is a BHPS steering committee member and a retired DEA agent who works with wild horses. I heard from her as she “hunkered down” at her farm in Virginia:
Things continue to be dire here in the northern Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland areas. Our cases increase daily, some days over 1,000 new infections. Virginia had 35 new deaths overnight. All three jurisdictions are struggling with how to re-open as the area is so interconnected. Stores still lack many essential items such as toiletries, toilet paper, things for baking such as spices and yeast. Clorox cannot be found.
Many of our area food banks are simply overwhelmed and cannot feed all of the people in need. This is becoming more like a bad movie than reality.
While we sit safely on our farm, we ponder what some of our leaders across the country are facing and are thinking when they are deciding to re-open businesses. The end of our shut-down is not yet in sight here and we are thankful for that. There is some talk about mid-June but we personally think that will put more people at risk. It is hard to fathom that some parts of the country have had few cases, few deaths, and no shortages of basic essentials.
We continue to try to support local restaurants by ordering carry-out, a practice that has become an art form here.
Otherwise, our focus is on getting our wonderful fields of hay cut and in the barns and hope we can find help to do this big job. We have had so much rain in April and May, then freezing temperatures all week, frost most days. We hope for some dryer weather, warmth and sun.
May you all be well and continue to practice social distancing and please, wash your hands.
Robert Sheckler is a Best Horse Practices Summit steering committee member and Community Programs Manager for the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, New England’s premier rescue facility.
I reached him after a long day at the Windham facility:
Some days, I’m a little jealous of my friends, so many of whom seem to have a lot of extra time right now. That hasn’t been the case for me; I’ve gotten busier and busier throughout the lockdown. Today was my first full day back at the shelter after weeks of working from home. Since early April, MSSPA administrative staff have been working mainly remotely in order to reduce the number of people on site at the shelter.
I found working from home to be challenging, as I am not built for sitting alone at a desk all day. I missed scratching withers, working with volunteers, introducing visitors to the shelter, and running birthday parties for horse-crazy kids.
Still, I love a challenge, so I’ve thrown myself into the task of connecting people to the shelter and the horses remotely. From a Zoom class for local kids, to fundraising campaigns, to grant writing, to blog and social media posts, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to practice bringing the shelter to life for people who aren’t able to visit and see the horses in person.
One of the most rewarding programs I’ve had the opportunity to work on lately is the shelter’s Feed and Care Bank, which provides temporary financial assistance to Maine horse owners in need. As you can imagine, there has been a sharp increase in applications for financial assistance, as many private horse owners have lost their jobs and trainers have lost the lesson income that helps them support their personal horses.
I helped to create promotional materials for the program, which one of my co-workers then sent to dozens of feed stores and equine professionals in Maine to ensure that horse owners throughout the state know about the program. More recently, I interviewed a program recipient over the phone and had the opportunity to share her story on our blog. It was amazing to hear about the impact that the Feed and Care Bank had on her family and her horses, particularly at a time like this.
I did not particularly enjoy working at home, and I’ve never liked sitting at my desk for hours. Nevertheless, I don’t regret any of this time spent over the last few weeks. Having a purpose–focusing on the shelter horses and all the other horses in need throughout the state–made it really easy to concentrate on the work. We always say: “When times are bad for humans, they’re worse for animals.” Contributing to their health and welfare is what I want to do, even if I have to do it from behind a screen for a while. That being said, it is so much better to look out my office window and see Poppy sunbathing or Jackie and Lacy grooming each other. You can’t beat that view!
We spoke while Amy was en route to a private lesson.
It seems like here in North Carolina, everyone is going back to normal. I’m resuming private lessons and traveling to ride client horses, but we are all maintaining social distance.
I continue to be busy with training horses and am building a wait list. We have finished the arena and I think it looks great.
I don’t have any clinics scheduled and am anticipating that I still won’t for the foreseeable future Staying socially distant, I think, will be the new norm and the nature of my clinics is pretty hands-on, so I’m not sure how things will work out yet.