A few of my friends have been posting “Gratitude Lists” online, to remind them of all the good that is out there, particularly in times where it’s easy to see the bad.
I’ve seen these before, in less hideous times, and I’d always thought they were a little fluffy. But the whole world is upside down, and I think that maybe a little fluffy is just what the doctor ordered (alongside hand washing, mask wearing, and staying the heck at home). So here are 10 things I’m grateful for this week.
1. The people I’m near. I know, social distancing is making “near” a relative term. But my staff is being amazing right now (as they always are, but I’m particularly grateful now). The end of the Florida season is always a time of senioritis avoidance because we’re all burned out from three-plus months of constantly running, and we normally finish showing and then have 10-or-so days to kill before we head home. The coronavirus has made it more like five WEEKS to kill, and between that and not being able to leave the farm for social interaction, we should all want to kill one another. The fact that we don’t is remarkable and says a tremendous amount about the gastrointestinal fortitude of these amazing women: assistant trainer Jess and working students Emily and Caitlin.
2. The people I’m slightly farther away from. My clients have been so gracious and understanding, and they share our seriousness about trying to keep the barn a safe and healthy place. I was left with no choice but to close my barns, and almost all of my clients were so phenomenally understanding, even thanking me for taking their health, and the health of their animals (because if we all get sick, who cares for them) so seriously. Their words of support have kept me going.
3. The people on my screen. My boyfriend and best friends and I are FaceTiming regularly, and it is SO much better than just talking on the phone, particularly in these times. I’ve done a series of virtual cocktail parties with various equestrian dignitaries (they’ll ramp back up after I get home from Florida this weekend, so keep an eye on my Facebook page for more details); they’ve been awfully fun! If you haven’t tried a video chat option to stay in touch with your loved ones, do it.
4. An outdoor job. So many reasons to be grateful for this today: an ability to, with some planning and a LOT of cleaning protocols, stay in business, at least at a base level. Getting out of the house. A space to get out of the house TO, in that we’re out of the building a lot, but also that our geography gives us trail access around the neighborhood, where I can hack horses or go for a workout myself for miles without seeing a soul. It’s harder to feel like the walls are closing in when there are no walls.
5. Science, and the people who take it as fact. Because of science, we know what this is. Because of science, we’re working on fixing it, and we know what to do until it is fixed.
6. Human courage. There are people—doctors, nurses, first responders, providers of food and supplies, people who drive those foods and supplies around, and so many more—who are walking into the fire, willingly, every day. They are angels.
7. Human creativity. The folks who are live streaming concerts? The folks who are reading books aloud on the internet? The ones in the apartment complexes of the world throwing dance parties on their balconies? Everyone creating content, virtual or live, to lift our spirits—they’re angels too.
8. My dogs. Even though Georgia, the new rescue, likes to eat shoes. They’re a constant source of amusement and something to squeeze when I’m feeling alone.
9. My horses. They don’t know the world is upside down, so they’re the same every day. And fortunately, they’re all being GOOD. Puck is getting somewhere with balancing his power and expression. Elvis is learning to piaffe, after a nice post-show break. Swagger is getting keener and more honest to the aids. Elvis learning to piaffe, after a nice post-show break. Swagger is getting keener and more honest to the aids.
10. Open windows. The weather is changing. The grass is greening. Things are going to get better, and this is going to pass, just as the days are getting longer, and the flowers are blooming. It’s a beautiful time, and we should be just ready to emerge, with great care, from our seclusion into a world that is shiny and new.
Lauren Sprieser is a USDF gold, silver and bronze medalist making horses and riders to FEI from her farm in Marshall, Virginia. She’s currently developing The Elvis Syndicate’s Guernsey Elvis, Beverley Thomas and her Ellington, and her own Gretzky RV and Ojalá with hopes of one day representing the United States in team competition. Read more about her at SprieserSporthorse.com, or follow Lauren Sprieser on Facebook and Instagram.