I ran across an interesting phrase just this morning: “last days of the old ways,” from a GQ list of the best restaurants of 2020. Talk about a time capsule (so worth reading for perspective if nothing else — like, remember how affected dining out had become?). But it struck me because we are never going back to the world as it was before COVID-19. “The old ways” will be tinged with new adaptations of existing in public spaces, hopefully with a good dose of charity and kindness. Adaptation that I personally have no problem with, honestly, mysophobe and agoraphobe that I am. Eating out is fun and everything, but I am just as happy staying in.
As horse people, while many of us have had to change routines, or suspend them entirely, we -most of us- will get to come back to horses. Barns in my area have had varying degrees of openness or closedness, and I have been lucky enough to continue my daily treks to where I board Eli to ride, or just let him graze, or groom him until he rolls his eyes at me. We passed the ownership milestone of May 1, the day I bought him in 2014, with little notice from him, as Eli is most definitely the one who owns me, and that started before May 1, 2014 for sure.
The horse world at large is looking at attempting to get back to showing. What changes will we see? Hand sanitizer at all the in-gates? Limited or no concessions? Ticketed schooling at EVERY show, not just the big A shows? Will we even have to answer these questions? The idea of certainty is a tenuous one in this post-old ways-existence. I am not about to craft an editorial on how or why we can live alongside a newfound pathogen and still keep capitalism, leisure time, and the service industries alive.
Rather I’ll just give y’all an Eli update: he is out of pads in front, he got his bone juice, and he has energy to burn. He feels pretty good under saddle, but he is out of shape. As am I. So we are not doing a whole lot yet, just building on the ride before and looking forward to doing a little more the next ride. I trotted him over a crossrail a few times the other day and there was much excitement in the first few steps after the fence in the form of tiny little dolphin leaps and head tossing. Seems like classic Eli to me!
Getting the trot squared away is relatively easy for me. I am a less coordinated rider at the canter, and that’s the gait of Eli’s that needs the most work. Due to his veterinary history, I am not going to attempt to accomplish this on a longe line, so getting it done under saddle will be a slooooooowwww process. The formula: A few decent steps? Reward with a walk. Add more decent steps next time. Next time could be 2 minutes later or the next day, it doesn’t really matter. The rewarding is the important part, as Eli is very sensitive and responsive to that kind of thing.
So that’s where we are, “we” being me and Eli. It has been such a protracted process, bring him back into work after his suspensory injury. It’s been about a year since he did that, and I think we are now on the right path with that and his front feet, too. For the time being, the main goal is to get Eli back into shape, to a reasonable level of fitness for a low-level, local show horse. If we can get there, then I’ll consider doing more, but it’s also okay with me if we never get there. Horses are perhaps the best teachers of adaptation, moreso than even a viral pandemic. At least, for some things. Horses teach you what you can control, and what you can’t, and what you have to let go. (Pride … the inside rein …)
In a completely unrelated, frivolous aside, this Chardonnay is really good:
Oh, lors, speaking of the old ways. I had gone to the grocery store to pick up a few things, including some beer. There are always very helpful, dutifully face-masked employees in the wine and beer section at HEB, and as I trundled down the refrigerated aisle of beer, an employee asked me if I needed any help finding something. I said, yes, I am looking for the Guinness four pack of cans with the nitro ball … ? The guy said, yes, right down here, in the import section which is sadly smaller than it used to be … and he handed me the four pack and left me wondering if there were any good domestic nitro ball options. Nothing like a slow burn apocalypse to make me question my casual consumerism. Vive la nouvelle façon, I guess?