There is a rather beautiful and unexpected paradox in this time of isolation and lockdown. Although we at HorseBack are all staying at home, keeping to ourselves, strictly self-isolating, we have never felt more connected to our community and our country. We think it’s because obeying these new rules is not so much to keep each individual safe, but to keep everyone else safe. It is truly a collective act.
Each time you choose not to go out, you are stitching yourself into the social contract. You are protecting the old, the vulnerable, the groups at most risk. You are relieving the burden on the cherished National Health Service, and doing something, however small, to help the nurses and doctors on the front line. You are setting an example for your children and teaching them something about selflessness that they will remember for the rest of their lives. (It’s been our experience that the young ones understand very well why they can’t see their friends or go out to play. The young people we know are showing a wisdom and resilience that touches our hearts.)
As a team, we do miss our usual daily routine. We miss the camaraderie and bustle and sense of purpose we find at HorseBack. We miss our veterans. We miss each other and we miss the horses. The horses however are enjoying their prolonged break and looking longingly up at the hill where we hope to return them to as one big herd next week. Big, small, thoroughbred, miniature all together until they eat too much spring grass and have to be put in the diet field.
As always, we try to find silver linings and green shoots of hope. We are working on new ideas for ways to adapt our courses for the time this crisis eases, and we are busy figuring out how to get things up and running as soon as possible. We have a fledgling notion that we might be able to put on special courses for NHS workers when this is over, because they are going to need as much support as everyone can give them. We think that our experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and working with veterans with severe mental health issues would stand us in good stead in this regard.
Meanwhile, as we humans strive to adapt and stay cheerful and find ways to support each other, the horses are untouched by world events. They have the safety of their herd, and they have the peaceful fields of Scotland, and they have their great, horsey, authentic sense of self. Horses tend to live in the moment. They don’t cast their minds into the future and run catastrophic scenarios in their head as people so often do. If they are treated kindly and worked with sensitivity and thought, if they have the freedom to roam and something good to eat, and if they have each other, they are happy. They concentrate on the essentials of life – companionship, kindness, a sense of connection. We often think that we can learn from them, and never more so than now.