Mental (Horse) Health

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The Relatable Rider

I have been trying to write a blog for over a week. But writing about anything other than COVID-19 right now feels just about impossible. Over the last few months we have all watched this pandemic progress across the world, and now at home in Canada. I am someone who suffers from a pretty high level of anxiety daily, yet initially, when this started to get more serious in our own backyard, I was oddly calm. I joked that I have been preparing for this my entire life. But that is not just a joke - I have. I am what some might call a worst-case-scenario person. Or as my therapist says, I catastrophize situations. Having a word to assign to the behaviour I have endured my entire life is incredibly helpful for me.

Catastrophizing is how my anxiety manifests in all walks of life for me. If the plane I am on is turbulent, we are going to crash. If I don’t hear from a friend, they are mad at me. If something goes wrong at work, I am going to get fired. And if there is something wrong with my horse, she is going to die. Sounds dramatic, right? But it’s my truth and one that I am willing to share in the hopes of shining a light on mental health and opening a discussion for everyone who should feel safe to talk about this kind of stuff.

So now, while all of this is unfolding, and each day brings more pandemic news and with it an overload of information, I vacillate from being incredibly calm to panicking enough to start physically vibrating. While I can, I am enjoying my time at the barn. It’s amazing how horses can bring us a calm like no other. I have always found that being around horses has brought me a sense of peace, now even more so. But with many barns closing their doors to mitigate the spread of the virus and ensure everyone’s safety, it is a very challenging time for all of us horse people. Since this is such an unprecedented time, it was initially unclear what the best course of action was for trainers, barn owners, and horse owners alike. We have been getting updates and information from our provincial and national associations, insurance companies, as well as many other resources and will continue to do our best to keep you updated. You can find more information on our website here: COVID-19 

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Hopefully, by now, your barn has a plan in place to keep people and horses safe. Of course, our horses still need care, and we still need our horses. Outside of the risk of spreading the virus, another big consideration is the risk of injury while our health care system is already stressed. Make good choices out there - while still holding on to whatever normalcy is possible by being at the barn — even if it means being extra cautious, washing our hands a million times, and sanitizing touchpoints multiple times a day.

No one knows what the next few weeks will look like, or the next few months. But if I know anything, I know that we horse people are strong, resilient, and powerful beyond measure. And we are in this together. So, reach out to those you can with phone calls, video calls, texts, and Skype. Stay safe and stay sane, hopefully with your horses at your side if you still have the luxury at this stage. 

"We are stronger together than we are alone." - Walter Payton

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