The bulk of our May Issue was to focus on how our equine community has been affected by the pandemic. We asked trainers, veterinarians, equine professionals, riders, and owners to contribute words and perspectives to an overwhelming response. Here, Shelley Campf from Oz Inc. shares what the pandemic has meant to her. For all the stories, please see our May 2020 Issue.
Pandemic! A word we all knew but not one we had to conceptualize if it were not in a science fiction movie. Furthermore, if the events that have played out over the last few weeks were in a movie, we would all say, “that would never happen. This movie is too far-fetched.” Yet, here we are, knee deep in a global pandemic.
Horses are oblivious to such events. They still require the same care – feed me, love me, get me out of my stall and clean my stall to perfection. At our farm, the horses and staff are business as usual. We ride, train, and turnout the horses much like any other day. I suppose the biggest opportunity and unintended benefit, is that the horses are trained at the highest level possible. Normally, we make up each individual horse’s schedule around the needs of their owner’s schedule and ability level. We are currently following state protocol and are not allowing the clients to come to the barn. Therefore, all the horses are on a planned weekly schooling schedule and the jumps are changed according to each specific horse’s needs. The riding and schooling sessions have been rigorous on our very qualified training team and the horses and riders are benefitting from this strange time. The training has been great as has the conditioning and grooming of the horses. We are anxious to have our clients come back into the fold, once the restrictions are lifted to see all that we have accomplished. The horses and staff are all in top form – ready to go! The difficulty in this is without a firm start date, planning is difficult. We carefully sculpt each horse’s schedule to peak at the ‘correct times’. Some competitions are used as training shows so that the horses will compete at their very best at other competitions. This time of an unknown calendar makes the training schedule more complicated.
In addition to the riding and training, our staff has pulled together for some of the most spectacular “spring cleaning” you have ever seen. Controlling germs with horse activities is difficult, as many of the things we touch are not easy to disinfect. Things like lead ropes, reins, and brushes are germ magnets and difficult to constantly clean in a practical manner, but we have taken every measure we can think of to lessen those risks. We have gone through every cupboard and storage area, through all the old file boxes, repaired the paddock fencing, washed every bit of laundry and updated everything we could think of.
Interestingly, the biggest challenge I have encountered is navigating my way through the differing opinions everyone has regarding the virus. Some people think the media is overstating it. Some people are afraid to walk out of their front door. The diverse attitudes are fascinating to me. As business owners, we have had to make decisions that we think are in the best interest of the horses and our staff. Some of our clients are really supportive of the decisions we have made and others are critical. As I like to say, “it would be boring if we were all the same!”
Our society is forever changed and we will all have different habits after this is all over. For example, I never even realized how often I touched my face which has resulted in some behavior modification for me. I think such small changes will be evident in everything we all do. Horse people are typically an active, healthy group. Having said that, the coronavirus does not discriminate. For me, I feel societally obligated to adhere to the Governor’s Stay-in-Place order while other people are more loose in their thinking.
By the time this is published it is hard to know where we will be. Today, we are still in our Stay in Place order. Having said that, thirty days ago we were still showing in Thermal! Thirty days from now, who really knows where we will be? I choose to be optimistic! Hopefully as the “curve flattens”, our lives will get back to normal. Stay safe.
Photo Caption: Per Se, owned by SAS, LLC of Bellevue Washington. Shelley and Per Se were 2020 Desert Circuit Grand Champions in the Green 3’9″ Hunters.