Change…

This will change everything for ever. The world won’t simply go back to how it once was, and neither will we. We will all have been profoundly changed by this time. We will have accessed parts of ourselves that we haven’t before. Aspects of our characters will have been revealed to us, the good, the bad and the ugly.

In Buddhism, you go on retreat in order to learn more about yourself, to address issues, to force yourself to contemplate the less desirable aspects of yourself. We have effectively been forced into retreat, the whole world is being forced to confront their worse selves without the distractions of everyday life. This is not a comfortable process, but it is a necessity for growth.

This is why we can’t go back, because we will not be the same people who stepped into our houses and shut the door. We will be changed, forever. We will have changed, grown, altered in immeasurable ways. We cannot simply go back to who we once were. We can only go forwards, uncomfortable though that may be.

This is not what any of us would have chosen, it is far easier to rattle through life never really addressing anything, than to sit down and take stock. It has been forced upon us. But we have to make the most of it, we have to regard it as an opportunity for change, for expansion, for growth. We must always strive to embrace change, to embrace the unknown, to remember how very brave we are.

The world is waiting, catching its breath, in all its glory, it is resting, recuperating, ready for when we burst forth, as better people from our long period of reflection. Everything will be different, we will all be different, the world will be different, and hopefully better…

Box rest tricks

If your horse is on box rest you are advised to give him plenty of things to play with. Mirrors in his stable, radios to listen to, turnips on ropes to provide him with things to chew. We need to treat ourselves in the same way. We need things to do, music to listen to, food to chew on, games to play. We need to keep ourselves occupied, stop ourselves from developing stable vices. Our brains need entertainment, our minds need stimulation.

We are at least allowed out for a walk every day, some horses on box rest are not even allowed out for a small in-hand walk. Though if you have a horse that is struggling with box rest it may be worth talking to your vet about walking him in hand once a day. Sometimes the psychological benefit of a daily walk will be worth the small stress placed upon the injury.

In the UK we are allowed a daily walk, other European countries are experiencing a more severe lockdown, sometimes without a walk. I fear I would rapidly begin cribbing and weaving if we were not allowed out for a walk everyday.

Remember just like horses all people will adapt differently. Some will be perfectly happy in their stables with lots to eat, and television to watch. Whereas others will be pacing around their stalls, kicking the walls and threatening to bite vast chunks out of their humans. If you are in the second category, that is okay. It is okay to not be coping, it is an unnatural situation. But if you are coping on box rest, that is fantastic, just remember we are all different, we all cope with things differently. Our horses are all different, they all cope with things differently. A laid back cob may be perfectly happy in his stable, whereas a over-excited youngster may find it very difficult to cope with.

We will all get through this. In our own ways and using different techniques and tricks. We will all cope with it differently, and some better than others and that is just one of those things.

Box rest for humans

I have much enjoyed the analogies comparing box rest for horses to self isolation for humans. I wonder how many people after this will feel slightly more sympathy to their confined horses! Hopefully we will remember the lessons learned during this time and make more of an effort to entertain our box rest horses in the future. We, after all, have television, internet, books, magazine, craft, a whole world of entertainment at our fingertips. Our horses have four walls and we wonder why they develop stable vices?

Indeed I see the attraction of weaving or crib, or eating my bedding and I have a whole house to wander round in, with endless different forms of entertainment. Knowing how much I look forward to my daily exercise, I can only imagine how much a horse would enjoy their walk in hand time during the day. Most horses on box rest are allowed some walking in hand time.

There is no point mending your horse’s tendon only to have created stable vices in the process. Similarly it is vitally important for us to look our mental health during this time. Anyone with existing mental health issues will be struggling at the moment. If that’s you, it will get better, it’s okay to not be coping, it is harder for you. If you know anyone with mental health issues, please check in with them, they are probably not okay.

Remember it’s not a competition, everyone will be having vastly different experiences during this time. A nurse working all hours with no family will be having an entirely time to a family stuck together in a house with small children. These are not comparable experiences, but they are happening at the same time as a result of the same scenario. All we can do is the best with the time that is given to us. Take care of yourself and those around you.

Stuck at home?

I am sure that you all feel, like I do, that we are stuck in some very bad movie. And it is really hard to think, or concentrate, or try and work out what to do. But the sun still rises, horses still want their breakfast, we still go out and listen to the birds. Some parts of life still trundle onwards.

Above all it is vital that we stay safe, and we do our utmost to continue to care for our horses. But these are unprecedented times, adaptability and flexibility are key to managing this period of time.

Make contingency plans. Are your horses at home? Are they at a livery yard? If they are at a livery, what are you going to if you have to self-isolate? Ask for help. Remember people want to help. In times of crisis people feel better if they can help others. Offer to help others. If you are going to yard anyway can do muck out for someone else? Can you turn out for someone who has very bad asthma and has been told to stay at home?

If you can get to your horse, what are you going to do? If you usually would be preparing for the competition season, why not find another aim? There are lots of virtual shows popping up which look like great fun! Or why not plan some lovely hacks? Explore an area you wouldn’t usually go to? Trainers are still teaching, either in person, or virtually. So if there is something you want to master, that elusive shoulders-in for example, why not give yourself that as a goal?

Setting ourselves challenges and goals gives us motivation and helps us to deal with periods of uncertainty. So even if they were not the goals you wanted to work towards, a sense of purpose is still useful. Or pick something entirely different. Maybe you normal do showing, well not try and teach your horse to bow? Think outside the box, there are endless things we can do with our horses even if we can’t ride them, or compete them. To be honest just hugging them is great!