Welcome to the first in a series of blogs from horse owners all over the world! ‘The Equestrian Lives in Lockdown’ series is aimed at building a worldwide community of horse owners and raising awareness of different equestrian’s situations whilst in lockdown. There will be blogs from horse owners in the UK, US, Australia, France, Ireland, Dubai and India (possibly even more) and from different walks of equestrian life.

In our first blog, we start in Dubai with Helen.

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Helen and her horse Regalito

Dubai started with soft restrictions, people were told to stay at home except for essentials such as buying groceries or medical reasons. This was tightened to an 8 hour night time curfew within a few days, initially for 3 days,  but which was extended  after 2 days to two weeks ( extended again before that deadline was reached) and 24 hour curfew, meaning we were only allowed to leave home if we had a valid permit to do so.

I drew up a schedule of things with which to occupy myself for the 4-5 hours I usually spend at the stables every day. I was halfway through an online course (Linguistics), so signed up for another, in a completely different field of study (Equine welfare), for the sake of diversity. I wanted to keep active as well, so strength workouts from my trainer to do at home, balanced with pilates classes going online took care of my physical well-being, and I made extra effort to eat well to boost my immune system. My husband is working from home, so we’ve been having coffee and lunch breaks together during the day, before retreating to our respective work areas. I’ve had regular meetings on zoom, so have been able to see and talk to other people and haven’t felt totally isolated.

What took me a bit by surprise was the emotional effect not going to the stables had. I know that riding keeps me mentally balanced, so I was expecting mood swings, but I was more expecting to feel sad, anxious, and generally down. What I got was surges of anger and frustration – at random ‘others’ – the ones who weren’t playing along and blatantly disregarding restrictions, and frustration because my inner three-year-old kept telling me it wasn’t fair, and stomping her feet. These were countered by moments of supreme calm, when I’d be quoting John Lennon ‘Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end’; or ‘It’s ok if the only thing you did today was breathe,’ (unknown). 

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I have spent a lot of time looking through photos and videos, obsessing over my horse, even though I have complete faith in my stable manager, and the grooms and know he’s being well cared for. I’ve devoured everything horsey I’ve seen on social media, while keeping well away from current news because I know it will only raise my anxiety levels. (I’ve still managed to absorb enough to stay up to date on relevant information.)

I am glad that my last day at the stables was a good one. I went for a solo hack and was very aware of everything about me. The weather was glorious, the sky was blue, my horse and I had a disagreement about going further when some riders passed us on their way back, then resolved that satisfactorily and had a wonderful trot in the desert. I saw a little dead fox cub that made me sad, but when I realised it was evidence that foxes are breeding in the area I felt better. We splashed happily through a puddle on our way home, everything about the morning felt good, and I’ve held on to that feeling for the last four weeks. That memory and regular photographic updates from groom and stable manager have helped me cope when I have started to feel despondent. 

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 Now, I am absolutely delighted to report that yesterday (24th April), coinciding with the start of the holy month of Ramadan, our restrictions have been relaxed somewhat, and we are permitted out during the day without needing permits. Small steps, but significant ones. I’ve even made new friends during lockdown, and maybe, one day when we’re able to travel again, I’ll get to actually meet them in person.

Greetings from Dubai,

Helen Kacnik

How has lockdown affected you and your horse? Get in touch if you would like to share your story. Stay tuned for the rest of the series, there may be a few familiar faces appearing to tell their stories!

Other blogs you may enjoy…

9 Things to do When are in Lockdown and You Cannot Ride Your Horse.

What I have Realised Since Being Separated From My Horse

Inspo Interview #10 Raquel From Horses and Heels

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