It’s Time For Horse People To Follow California’s Lead

Mar 24, 2020 - 8:02 AM

I really wish everyone would just follow California’s lead right now [and self-isolate]. After all, it’s coming down the road for all of us anyway.

I really wish people would realize what is going on here. That your opinion doesn’t really matter. There’s so much fighting and bickering—so typical of our social media age. Be it on TV or on Facebook, people love to fight. Politicians, ourselves—they didn’t do it right, they didn’t do enough, they are doing too much, they are taking away our freedoms, we need more, we need less—it goes on and on. You think you hate Trump right now? Doesn’t matter. Want to hate China? Doesn’t matter. Hate the governors for what they’re doing? Doesn’t matter. All this can be debated later and voted on in November, but what does matter is that regardless of your beliefs, the fact is that this is going to have massive repercussions that will cripple people financially, if not physically. Every one of us will be affected in some way.

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Lesley Grant-Law is advocating that horse people limit their activities in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Lindsay Berreth Photo

We horse people are lucky. We can go out and ride, and [my husband Leslie Law and I] are teaching individual lessons. I think it is very important for the soul that people enjoy their horses in times like this if they can. But…

We are not doing schooling shows or group lessons.

We are not having dinner with anyone, nor is [our son] Liam allowed to play with any friends, sadly.

Shoot, I have a whole procedure just for collecting and opening my mail now. I have an entire checklist for going to the gas station and not touching anything and cleaning my debit card after.

Us horse people are lucky, but we are hardly immune, both in the medical sense or the social sense.

We horse folk are healthy people, as a rule at least. But anyone who has ever seen Leslie will know his immune system is partially compromised from his alopecia and whatever causes that. We have “healthy” professional friends that ride six horses at a show and thrive at the sport, but what you don’t know is that they have diabetes or previous heart conditions. There are a lot of “healthy” people out there that can become very unhealthy if this affects them.

I really wanted to go cross-country schooling [last Friday]. I figured that it was safe. After all, we could do it alone, just the two of us. No other people. No touching anything. Then I thought about the off chance—the probably less than 2 percent chance—that we fell off and had to go to the emergency room. I thought of how embarrassed and ashamed I would be in front of the hospital staff that don’t need one more issue right now, to my staff at home that I have no right to put into jeopardy by going near a hospital right now, how could I possibly explain to the world that my precious, privileged self just had to go jump some logs so that I could have fun?  Of course, there are those reading this that would say the same logic would keep me from getting into my car or riding at home, but if you can’t see the difference between necessity and not, then I can’t help you.

What I am trying to say is that for those of us who think we cannot be affected medically, maybe you’re right, you won’t get sick. But you have no idea what your best friend or favorite trainer may have going on in their seemingly healthy body that could be ravaged by this virus.

And then there are the economic considerations.

What do you think will happen if our shavings guy can’t deliver or your local hay guy gets sick? That you can just go somewhere else? What do you think is going to happen to prices?

If we don’t stay away from people now this could go on well into the summer. So forget about all the summer camps and clinics. Forget about the North American Youth Championships happening. Forget about selling your horses as well as you used to because there is a pile of unopened mail in a bag in my office, which includes all my 401K, SEP IRA and Roth IRA statements from the past two months, that I am too scared to open. I am sure the damage is much greater to the 50-plus generation that don’t have as many years to regrow it.

In rough times you know what goes first? Luxury items.

Should this go on all summer we are all going to feel the blow. It’s possible we’ll lose events that can’t afford to go on, lose trainers who had no savings and were living show to show, lose owners who have lost jobs or suffered significant losses in the market, lose students, lose sales.

So, to all you horse people that I see touting on social media that you are immune and think you can get away with your schooling shows so that you can have that dollar ribbon that has passed through God knows how many people before it got to you—but it’s OK because you were six feet away from people in the warm-up ring—think again, please.

The only hope we have is to try to slow it now.

I’ll take my scary viruses in my movies, please. Staring at the empty shelves that were supposed to hold eggs at Publix the other day reminded me of one of my favorite books, “City Of Thieves,” where a soldier had to search all of Leningrad during World War II to find an egg for his captain’s daughter’s wedding cake.

I cannot believe where we are right now, but here it is.

Never in my lifetime has there been such a moment to rely on each other. Never have I been asked to stand up before and really do something for the common good. Think about it.  NEVER. And hopefully, we never will again. But this is our moment, and what we do now could change what comes later and how long we go through this mess.

Not a drop of rain here in about a month, but who knew this was quite possibly the rainy day we have been saving for, for so many years.

Please, please be smart. Have virtual dinners and play dates! Play Mario Kart online!  But stop all the social gatherings, horse-wise or other.


Lesley Grant-Law is a five-star Canadian eventer. She is married to Olympic gold medalist Leslie Law, and they operate Law Eventing in Ocala, Florida. She has an honors degree in international relations and philosophy and a master’s in human rights from York University.

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