Many people across the country and around the world are helping those on the front lines of this pandemic by providing them with hot meals; RVs to sleep in; words and songs of love and appreciation; changing their regular business production to produce need medical supplies, and so much more. They are on the front end of the physical human health of all Canadians and worldwide.
However, for horse owners/leasers, our front line workers are the owners, managers and minimal staff of the facilities where our horses are living. They are responsible for keeping the horses happy and healthy and we love them for it. But we miss them and the horses terribly, so what can we do about it?
First, one small request directed at the barn owners, managers, etc. (whom we respect dearly):
We know you are seriously busy doing everything yourself right now, not to mention taking care of your own families, and that your staff may not be what you are used to, but would you mind taking a pic or short video of your client’s horses and posting them on social media? I know what you’re thinking ‒ “I don’t have time for that” ‒ and we can respect that, but your clients are at home right now missing their ponies so much that they will love you even more if you keep them updated. They need some equine therapy right now.
Just before feeding time or before they are turned out is usually the best (and most convenient) time for a video of all the horses in the barn, as most will have their heads sticking out of the stalls. Or once they are turned out, do a short video of the gang enjoying the fresh air and hay. It only takes a minute or two and you can upload it later whenever you have some time. Alternately, perhaps a web camera with a feed from the barn could be livestreamed from your website or Youtube or other technologies. (This is where the boarders could step in to help – see #5 below.)
That is the only thing we should ask of the barn owners. They have enough on their plate right now.
For clients… I hope you are aware of how much your barn owners are doing right now. Most, if not all, of their staff have to stay home with their own families so, for many facilities, it is just the owners doing ALL the work.
1. Let them know you appreciate them and everything they are doing. Send them a quick note or text letting them know you are thinking of them and thank them for keeping your horse happy and healthy.
2. Ask them if they need anything delivered to them. With so much work to do at the farm, and with most essential businesses having restricted hours right now, going to the store for groceries or the feed/farm store for them would be a tremendous help. They can etransfer some money to pay for whatever they need (or you can pay for it) and then you drop it off outside. Be sure to pick up carrots, apples or other treats for them to give to the equines as well!
3. Share your memories and love for your barn owners and trainers who are taking care of your equine partner. Go through your archive of photos, or buy some new ones online (many photographers have specials on right now) and post them on social media with your words of thanks for everything they are doing. You could do this for your barn friends, too.
4. Drop off a special treat. Cupcakes, coffee/tea, gift cards, flowers; just something to show them you are thinking of them and appreciate everything they are doing.
5. If you really want to see your horse that badly (and if you can afford it and the stable owner is willing to set it up), order a security cam online and have it sent to your barn. Discuss with them if a wired or wireless system would be best, etc. Then share the link with everyone from the barn so they can watch as well.
Thank you to all the stable owners and staff that are keeping our horses happy and healthy. It may feel like we take you for granted during normal times but believe me, you are the heart and soul of any barn family and we appreciate you more than you can ever imagine.
Janice Byer is a horse lover, owner, writer and equine photographer in Southern Ontario; visit lifewithhorses.ca