Monday morning 23rd March 2020; I arrived at the yard unfortunately without my usual coffee, and I even had to forgo my chat with Riley over the stable door.
With social distancing in place and wanting to limit the time spent at the yard it no longer felt appropriate. So, it was on to the task at hand and I took Riley out of the stable for grooming. He is such a fidget and won’t stand still so alongside grooming I worked on this by moving him back to the spot he should be in whenever he moved. This did make for a very long grooming session; however, I hope in the long run it will be worthwhile. It never feels safe to be kneeling down to groom his legs, and I have to be ready to move at any moment.
Afterwards I turned him out. I always enjoy taking him to the field and watch him march off when I have taken his head collar off. I love to wait a few minutes and watch him roll, which he often does, and he didn’t disappoint that morning.
An historic day
This was also to be the day that Boris Johnson announced lockdown in the UK and will forever be an historic one. I had been worrying about whether I would be able to visit Riley at the yard in view of the situation surrounding COVID-19, particularly after the previous evening’s meeting at the yard. (see last week’s blog)
The Prime Minister’s announcement heightened my worry even more as I wondered if I would still be permitted to go to the yard and care for him.
Our local yard has issued guidelines and currently we are able to care for our horses. I must admit that in these difficult times, Riley is helping me more than he realises.
With a feeling of uncertainty, I turned Riley out
The morning of Tuesday 24th March was strange, as for the last year I have been having a riding lesson and sharing my ‘Horse Riding Lesson Tuesday’ experiences on Instagram: however the riding school has now had to close due to the lockdown. Riding for the Disabled had already been cancelled the week before, so for the foreseeable future, Tuesday mornings are going to be very different. With a feeling of uncertainty, I turned Riley out to enjoy his day in the field.
Wednesday and Thursday followed in the same vein, muck out, turn out and return to bring him in.
There are a few horses that he knows he can’t bully
On Friday morning I groomed then turned him out. As many of the horses from the riding school were living out, I decided to bring Riley in later than usual as I wanted him to have more time in the field. Around 4.00pm each day, the yard staff put out haylage in the field, which of course, Riley loves, although he has started to become naughty when I go to catch him. He was munching away at a pile of haylage in the field until he saw me, and then wandered off to another pile of haylage. Riley doesn’t like to share, so he shoo’s away any horse or pony that happens to be eating from the same pile. He heads over to them with ears back and will give a kick with his back legs if they don’t move. However, there are a few horses that he knows he can’t bully and therefore avoids. This leaves me having to track him down whilst staying safe, which isn’t always easy for me as I am nervous at the best of times.
Wood pellets recommended
On Saturday, after turning him out, I spent a couple of hours mucking out. He is on a bed of wood shavings; however, he also has wood pellets underneath. When I first got Riley, he just had the shavings, but his bed was always messy and wet, and I was taking out a large amount of shavings each day. So, on the recommendation of another horse’s owner, we put the pellets down first and it has made a huge difference. This does result in a big job when the pellets need to be taken up, so Saturday morning was spent doing that and there were multiple trips to the muck heap.
This did make mucking out on Sunday a much easier task, as the new pellets were doing their job.
It has been an emotional and difficult week for everyone, and these are uncertain times, so I am taking each day as it comes and treasuring my time with Riley.