Last Wednesday our governor issued a shelter at home edict for all activities that are non-essential. We all knew it was coming, but when the words were finally spoken, my heart began to race, and I knew I had to let my boarders know they couldn’t come out. How do I do such a thing, tell them they can’t see their trusted horses who are their companions and trusted friends? Hanging out with their horses gives them a sense of tranquility, of enjoying shared space with another being that is gracious and forgiving. The barn is the one place that feels uncontaminated by the virus that is attacking our world. But then again, the feeling of security is being yanked away from us because now the experts have determined the virus lives on pretty much everything that the infected person comes into contact with. And to make matters worse, an infected person doesn’t always feel sick as they spread the virus around like a wildfire. I feel like I’m in a sci-fi movie for the end of the earth. Anybody else?
Wednesday night was long. I agonized over how to let everyone know. I drafted several emails until I finally had one that spoke from my heart and pressed send and exhaled. The few responses I got were very kind and supportive. We had two days before the edict would go into effect. All the boarders came out to groom, ride, and love on their horses and say goodbye for the next two weeks while I hid in the house because in here my daughter is in the high risk category and I cannot risk carrying the virus to her. I know there were tears as they left and I understand. I would be crying too, it’s not just the saying goodbye to our horses for two weeks, I think a lot of it is because this is one more thing that this awful virus is taking away from us. Just one-more-thing……….
I’m alone now here at the barn. Saturday was my first day, and I could hardly get out there. I was so down and hurting for everyone that I had to call my mom. My poor mother, she answers the phone and I was already sobbing that I couldn’t do it. It felt like I was breaking so many hearts and I wasn’t ready. Of course being the woman she is, she got me turned around and I was able to pull myself together and head out to the barn. The geldings were up and ready for breakfast and I peeked into the pasture to see who was at the gate. It was Jethro, so I went into the barn and made up his breakfast and put it in the stall. I walked out and he was waiting for me, he gently put his head in the halter and quietly followed me to the stall where he immediately got to work on his meal. The next horse I wanted to bring in was Sisco, I thought about him, pictured him in my mind as I made up his breakfast, when I went to his pasture he was standing at the gate saying hello. The whole morning went like that. It felt like they knew something was happening and they chose to make it easier for me. There was no fighting at the gate, no rushing me to their stalls, and no kicking out at each other while in their stalls. There was quiet communication happening all the time and the hush went from feeling claustrophobic to feeling calm and gentle. I’m starting to appreciate the hush, to welcome it and the gentle, quiet communication from the herd. I hope we all get through to the other side of this pandemic and maybe also learn how to appreciate the hush and the quiet slowing down of our lives.