Four-legged friends ride out quarantine

Grace Whitaker '22, Web Editor

SADDLE UP Emmy Reed ’20, University of Tennessee Martins as a D1 equestrian team commit, competes in a riding competition. Photo courtesy of Emmy Reed ’20.

During these strange and uncertain times, most people have put themselves into self isolation without too much difficulty– they’ve stopped going out, going to work or seeing the people they love. But for horse owners, following the state-mandated Stay-At-Home order has been a little difficult.
Sophie Barbieri ’23 started riding at five-years-old and said she cannot imagine her life without a horse in it. She said getting to know her horse and watch him grow has been her favorite part of owning a horse.
“It’s crazy how much you really don’t know until you own a horse– I had to figure a lot of stuff out,” Barbieri said. “I think it’s fun to really get to know one horse, and it’s funny how much my horse has changed too.”
Barbieri said she has been traveling to-and-from Justamere Equestrian Center to look after her horse Luke. She has had Luke for about six months and she said not being able to see him like she normally does has been very difficult.
“Before this, I worked one to two days a week,” Barbieri said. “It wasn’t weird. Whatever days I rode, those were my fun days. But now, whenever I don’t see him, it’s like oh my gosh, it is so strange.”
Not only is time away from riding odd for the owners, according to Grosse Pointe Equestrian volunteer Lou Kidder ’23, it can also be very odd for the horses.
“(Grosse Pointe Equestrian) has so many horses, I’m sure they’re not all been able to be ridden,” Kidder said. “That’s probably a big change for them because they’re used to being ridden every single day.”
According to World Horse Welfare, a horse should be ridden three times a week to stay fit. However, barbieri said these horses are really enjoying some time off.
“It really depends on the horse,” barbieri said. “Some horses are loving it, they get to run in their paddock and are very happy, and others are going crazy.”
For those that don’t own a horse, social distancing and the Stay-At-Home order can make practicing very difficult. According to barbieri, most stables are completely shut down and no entry is allowed.
“I feel like with most other sports, you can do your own practicing– if you don’t have your own horse or your own private barn, you can’t really practice,” Kidder said. “When they open again, I’ll have to almost completely restart.”
While it is scary for owners and enthusiasts to be away from their animals, the important part is that everyone stays healthy and looks forward to when time will be normal, Grosse Pointe Equestrian volunteer Lilly Szymanski ’23 said. She said she’s especially looking forward to when things will be normal again.
“I’m really excited to get back and be able to continue making progress in my lessons with my trainer,” Szymanski said. “I really miss the adrenaline and rewarding feeling from training.”