THE LAST LOCKDOWN?
So here we go, we finally have a potential re-opening date, providing everything goes to plan, which is Monday 29th March 2021, which also coincides with the Easter holiday period. At least we have more notice about reopening, which means we can avoid the frantic and complicated re-openings which have happened after the previous lockdowns.
Whilst we would have been economically sounder to have opened on the 8th February, which was the original date mooted by Government, no one wants a fourth one, so we will grit our teeth and bear it and just hope and pray that we are permitted to reopen on the 29th of next month and remain open.
HOW PEOPLE BEHAVE
If anyone had said to me we would be shut for over six months during the last year I would have had a nervous breakdown, believing we would never be able to financially survive for so many months without income, but surprisingly one finds a way when there are no other options – in our instance this is thanks to the dedicated team that remained on and made sure we did everything we possibly could to create income whilst cutting costs to the absolute minimum. Thank you guys, you have loyally stood by me during each lockdown – this being Georgia, Jazz, (Laura), Amelia, Charlie, Jess, and Anna, with the as ever wonderful Sally Spaarkogel remaining as our primary coach for the private lessons when we were permitted to do these during the various lockdowns. A remarkably small team for a business of this size coupled with the large number of horses under our care.
Also what did prove surprising, simply because of how people would have reacted in the past, is just how well our livery and loan owners get on with whatever is thrown at them, being both adaptable and easy-going as they comply with the ever changing and often swiftly changing regulations. Alterations to the status quo that haven’t always been that clear, with everyone just doing their best to interpret these changes as accurately as they could.
On the flip side of human behaviour, I walked around the corner of the yard the other day to be taken aback to see our newish neighbour (you could hardly miss him) squatting a top one of his shipping containers that abuts our boundary, holding his mobile phone out towards our indoor school. On asking him what he was doing, he advised he was recording our contravening the Covid regulations. So I looked at the building and looked at him again and said, doing what? I was completely lost for words, nonplussed at to this intention of malice against something that wasn’t even happening, whatever that was supposed to be.
Last week we held an online dressage test for all of our horse owners and virtually everyone gave it a go, even those who had never done anything remotely similar before, and did they all pull it off. I was sentenced to judging the classes after having skilfully slipped out of having to do a Zoom session on cross country riding the previous week and was terrified I would end up crucifying everyone – you have to stick to the judging standards, regardless.
Well I needn’t have worried, I was delighted with the way the horses went and the way they were ridden. The level of tests was chosen wisely because the main requirement from the horse at Intro and Prelim levels is they should continue to move as nature intended when loose in their field, and of course all the horses did, living freely outside as they do.
We had a vast range of ages and abilities taking part but the great thing about dressage is you are only competing against your previous score – not each other. Achieving a placing with a rosette is just the icing on the cake, but we must say well done to the two who did head their classes, which was Abi on Barney and Caroline on Roo, both achieving seriously decent scores too.
The next online competition will be judged by someone else on the 27th March, riding different tests but at the same level as before. This time we are chucking in a “Best Turned Out Award” too. Smart appearance of horse and rider are all that is required – show kit is not necessary and I am even permitting “matchy-matchy” items. Who would have ever thought I would be a champion of coloured equipment on horses? Something that used to be considered seriously bad taste many years ago.
IT’S NOT JUST THE SUNSHINE
And what about the weather then? We had one day of serious sunshine this week and my goodness did this lift everyone’s spirits – it appears we have some lovely sunny weather coming up next week too. I know it is no longer de rigueur to keep being so tirelessly positive or brag about how “lucky” one is, but I can’t help but say my guys work hard outside all year round to enjoy these particular days of fine weather when they do appear – those days when EVERYONE longs to be outside – how much they deserve this delightful bonus, especially after this past treacherous year.
Who would want to live in a country without seasons? And aren’t we lucky (here I go again) that we live in a country without seasonal extremes? Perfect for being around and riding horses too of course.
Have a good week – the end of this pandemic is finally and realistically in sight – and what a relief this is for all of us.