It's Going to be a Rough Ride by Andrea Busfield

It's Going to be a Rough Ride by Andrea Busfield

I’m not verysociable these days, which means I’ve pretty much nailed the art of self-isolation.So, when the government restricted all movement on the island where I live, Iwasn’t especially fazed – not until it looked like I wouldn’t see my horses forthree weeks.

Without being too melodramatic about it, I have two horses – Lucky andMina – and I see them every day, twice a day, for something close to six hoursa day. I ride them in the morning and I return in the evening to kiss themgoodnight. THEY ARE MY LIFE.

So, naturally, when the government confined us to our homes this week, Ihad something of a Wuthering Heights meltdown about it.

On first hearing the announcement that people could only leave their homes on grounds of starvation or death (to paraphrase), I was all: “Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! Only do notleave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”

On trying to explain to my parents, over Skype, how catastrophic these measures were: “Mother, I am Lucky!”

When they still didn’t get it: “Whateverour souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

And then as I trawled through the news sites looking for a glimmer of hope or some kind of mass equestrian rebellion: “I have to remind myself to breathe—almost to remind my heart tobeat!”

By the endof the day, looking out of the window, watching the sun melt into the Mediterraneanwhile wondering what other horrors we might expect from this brutal new world Iwas ready to go full Catherine Earnshaw and take to my bed.

Thankfully,restrictions were clarified later that night and we just needed to getpermission to see our horses.

Of course, the coronavirus is nolaughing matter and it is imperative that everyone does their utmost to containthis truly awful infection. But most horse owners will know thatheart-stopping, gut-wrenching fear of forced separation. The emotional bond weshare with our horses is often the butt of jokes, humorous memes and the causeof much bewilderment among non-equestrians, but it is real. Horses are one oflife’s true love stories.

Thankfully, Lucky and Mina are stabled at a fantastic yard so my worry was never about their care; whether their hooves would be cleaned, whether they’d have enough food to survive the lack of apples and carrots or whether they’d get hand-walked to keep them moving. No, my concern was more to do with how I would cope.

According to my parents, whowitnessed my initial Falling Down rant about wanting to take out China’s exoticanimal markets with an FN MAG 58 machine gun, the prognosis didn’t look great. Fortunatethen that within 24 hours of the Cypriot government ordering lockdown, theygave the populace some wiggle room, including a three-hour window to tend topets and animals.

Sadly, some of my fellow equestrianson the island haven’t been so lucky. Whereas my yard has agreed to ownerscoming to tend to their horses on a strict rotor system, to avoid as much humancontact as possible, other yards have issued a complete ban.

As one friend told me, after beinggiven an hour to say her goodbyes, “I’m crushed.”

I feel for her. I really do.

Of course, the simple truth is, if the world doesn’t get a grip on this virus there will be greater consequences than we can possibly imagine. So, do listen to your government’s advice, and if you don’t think they are going far enough, do what you feel you must to protect yourselves and your loved ones.

And if I can give you one more piece of advice it would be to heed the wise words Charlie Mackesy in his excellent book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.

“These are dark clouds,” said the boy. 

“Yes, but theywill move on,” said the horse, “the blue sky above never leaves.”