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.
Introducing the Cayuse Corona Community, a new 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. We’ll get through this and it’ll be better if we’re together.
Concurrent with these Cayuse Corona Community pages, we will be offering weekly giveaways, including goods from Redmond Equine, Kershaw knives, Pharm Aloe Equine, Hitching Post Supply, and the Cayuse Communications library of books. Read more about that here.
Maddy Butcher, BHPS director and Cayuse Communications publisher, writes of whoopie pies and wilderness in this essay on HighCountryOutsider.
“…With horses, it’s easier to function and focus. If you don’t leave stuff at the door, your lack of presence will wreck your ride. If you’re too distracted to realize it, your horse will let you know.
It’s harder when there is no thousand-pound animal moving and breathing beneath you….”
As the quarantine continues, I’m focused on riding training horses and doing video lessons. My nine-month old daughter, Josie, is crawling, so that keeps me pretty busy, also.
I’m trying to help students as much as possible. I document my work with the horses in training and make that available to my clients and anyone else who’s interested.
With so many people online, my internet access is worse than normal. Video uploads and downloads mean driving to town and working in the parking lot of a shuttered gas station. I haven’t been to the grocery store in over a month, but I hear it’s not fun. Luckily, our needs are few and we are healthy and happy at home.
Katrin Silva – is a BHPS presenter and well-known horsewoman in New Mexico. She’s also author of Dressage for All of Us: How to Help Any Horse Become a Happier, More Responsive Riding Partner.
Read her first pandemic journal entry, Why Horses Matter.
I spoke with her as she was driving to the barn:
The other day, I unexpectedly cried my eyes out at the grocery store. I think it was because I pick up emotions of others pretty easily. With horses, of course, I know what they feel and think. I try to stay sensitive. But now, there is a lot of anxiety and negativity. It’s so heavy. I feel a lot of sadness everywhere.
I’m making an effort to call friends who are alone. I have my husband and I’m busy with training horses. But I imagine if you live alone and you don’t have animals, it’s got to be pretty terrible. We’re not made for that.
I’m struggling with writing anything meaningful. Ugh. I think it would be healthy to do that but it’s hard to find the words.
I also feel kind of guilty when I’m happy. Riding. Running. These seem like frivolous things in the direness.
Debbie Hight is a BHPS board member, horse owner, and occasional guest columnist for Cayuse Communications. She writes from her home in Maine, where she is caring for barnyard and, most recently, her 10 year-old grandson, too.
This has been spring break for William. Needless to say, it is “spring not-break” for me. We do art projects, baking, and reading. I have us baking the alphabet. Haha! What is the matter with me?
We’ve done plenty of work in the woods, hauling out blowdowns and creating a trail. We also had the quad, lawn tractor, and farm tractor serviced here this week.
The quad could possibly be William’s favorite piece of equipment. He’s been driving it since he was five. The serviceman was excellent. From 10 feet away, William asked a million questions and the man answered every single one of them.
In the morning, we clean stalls. William is supposed to clean out Roxy’s stall while I clean Jack’s. After a few minutes, I looked over to Roxy and there is William, leaned up against her, muck rake in hand, just chatting away with her while she is eating.
Warwick has a great video on acting like a “10 year-old girl” and how good that is for a horse. Well, I’ve got a “10 year-old boy” being good for a horse and he is getting quite a lot out of her, too.
We sent Amy Skinner some video clips last weekend. I had her meet William over FaceTime. She asked him what he would like to learn and what he liked about riding. She developed some “games” for him which are actually exercises to work on establishing an independent seat.
The pictures are of him working on a standing walk (he could do it at trot as well) and holding two cups of water. Actually, there was no water at the time. We will work up to partial and then full glasses.
Yesterday, he decided to try the English saddle and a halter with lead line for reins. No problemo. He will soon be doing handstands on her back and roping Rob’s cattle.
Kyla Strange is a Canadian horsewoman based in New Brunswick. Owner of Khas T’an Horsemanship, she was a special guest at the 2019 BHPS. Strange accepted a new governmental position this year and made the big move from British Columbia to New Brunswick. Because of the pandemic, she has had to postpone moving her horses. Here, she considers kindness, grief, gratitude, and rhythm during the COVID19 pandemic.
Locking down into Week 5, I dig deep in the ever-changing and humbling discovery process of self-isolation. Separated from my three horses and Khas T’an operations, I ponder daily, ‘What is it exactly that non-horse people do with their time?’ I laugh at myself secretly while I continue to adjust to the confinement and changes in this new world.
The earthbound stomp of this invisible virus has brought on thoughts and emotions of kindness, grief, gratitude and rhythm. During these times, it is so important to be kind to ourselves, to others and our environment.
Reading some internet data reports, I learned 95 people died overnight in Quebec. I just sat there in silence and wept for a few moments.
A mantra from one of my recent yoga practices echoes in my heart, ‘All challenges are an opportunity for growth, and I am thankful for the chance to evolve.’
To ease my anxiety, I snowshoe or find a good book.
I’ve been clinging to the live streams of house-bound artists from all directions: Neil Young fireside, The Hypochondriacs, the Farm Aid fundraiser, Matt Anderson, Ziggy Marley, Alicia Toner, and many more.
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:
As the virus continues to hammer our region, things have gotten a bit scarier. We have reduced our help by one person and hope to keep the others on. The worst has not yet come. Cases are dramatically increasing during each overnight period. The stay-at-home order is in full effect and when you do go out, masks are required. Our local grocery stores are limiting the number of people allowed in at one time and have re-designed the space so that aisle traffic can only move in one direction. It is all a bit surreal.
Olan, our newest wild horse is continuing to make strides. As a horse that shuts down very easily, he is putting every one of my observation skills to the test. We all seem to become accustomed to being really good at “reading” extroverted horses that go over threshold with an outward, dramatic reaction.
With the quiet ones, the reaction is equally as fierce, but the horse is fighting hard internally to hold it all together. With no means of outward release, they can be challenging to unravel.
I am very proud that Olan is coming along. He is getting better with interacting with new people, showing less fear, and is starting to enjoy his training. I continue to help others work with their horses, keep all of my other personal horses in training, and continue to enhance my own training skill. I look forward to some normalcy returning. We may be in for the long haul as in Virginia the worst is still yet to come.
Three things have been important to me during this pandemic: creating new routines around food, fitness, and intellectual stimulation.
Baking bread is on the rise! I think it’s actually one of the easiest things to make. I’ve been using my Mom’s recipe for years and the real challenge is to not eat it all when it’s hot.
While making bread may be easy, like horsemanship, it does take some timing. If you let it over-proof, or rise too long, you may end up with flat top bread. It still tastes good but is not Instagram worthy.
What are you doing to keep fit? Most gyms have created online portals for living room workouts. My life seems to offer enough strength training, so I prefer yoga stretching. Yoga With Adrienne on YouTube is lovely. Her dog, Benji, often joins her. She is funny and doesn’t hit you with a lot of yoga life philosophy.
Finally, and perhaps the most important is keeping your mind engaged. Videos are good. There are thousands of online references. Check out the presentations from the Best Horse Practice Summits from previous years.
Reading makes me think harder. I’m currently re-reading Alois Podhajsky’s book, The Complete Training of Horse and Rider in the Principles of Classical Horsemanship. I can open the book up at any point, read for a while and find it validates what I already know, introduces something new, or completely changes my view on an aspect of horsemanship. Some of the best feedback on my newfound knowledge has come from my horses when they respond with a “what took you so long to figure this out?”
These past few weeks I’ve gone through Nuno Oliveria’s book, Reflections on Equestrian Art. Bringing it Together by Ellen Eckstein and Betty Staley, and Know More to Do Better by Denny Emerson. Cayuse Communications has also produced a few publications and Maddy’s book, A Rider’s Reader is on the reread list.
If you can’t get out and test your new learning on your horse. Keep a notebook handy. No, it’s not the same, but it will help you retain the learning as you consider what you need to change in order to achieve the results. You are also creating a great database of personal and relevant information.
Does any of this replace the joy you might attain from visiting your horse? Perhaps not, but keeping busy can help replace the frustration that comes with isolation. As they say in horsemanship circles, creating a new normal may not be easy, but it can be simple.