Helmet? Check! Boots? Check! Face Mask?

By Posted on 2 Comments 3 min read 287 views

When boarding planes for my last couple or three flights, especially in the last couple of years, I’d spot a passenger or two wearing a surgical mask.

I used to think it odd, but understandable.  Commercial flights, like elementary schools or Florida beaches in March, might as well be petri dishes.

Years ago, I was subjected to/healed by immunosuppressant drugs. My year and a half of “chemo lite” taught me:

  • To open doors with a shirt tail over my hand.
  • To go straight to the bathroom from my car to wash my hands.
  • To avoid crowds in the big shopping seasons, like Black Friday, December, and Saturdays. 
  • To dodge my friends with grandchildren if they mentioned they were catching or getting over a cold.
  • To take my own reading material to a doctor’s waiting room. Except for the dentist. He has The BEST magazines, and people aren’t usually sick when they go to the dentist. But it has to be a REALLY intriguing travel or lifestyle magazine. Not one of the usual suspects.

Yet, I always went to the barn, where I’m older than most of my fellow students’ parents. Besides, fresh air at the barn dilutes all the cooties. The concentrated air of a restaurant table? Not so much. 

Likewise, horse shows and Saratoga racing were always exempt from my No Crowds Rule.

Except now, I’m thinking they won’t be.

A Product Opportunity for Ariat?

Once the country re-opens for business — probably with a soft launch in my area, the populous “rocking chair” between NYC and Boston–I think I’ll be wearing masks in public for a while. And maybe gloves.

Maybe even for the steamy months of July and August.

With any luck, the barns will be open again in June. I hate to think what would happen if riding stables can’t hold summer camp.

Even when it’s at it’s hottest outside, I wear gloves to ride. My hands get sweaty. My schoolie doesn’t need to feel me pinching on the reins getting slippery from my sweat. And I sure don’t need him or her to feel that and come to his or her own conclusions.

Wearing breeches, riding pants, gloves, tall boots, and a helmet for one night a week actually makes summer in shorts and sandals feel less oppressive.

So I’m bracing myself for the need and responsibility to wear a mask when I ride when we gear up again.

I Stopped Riding Two Weeks Before Everything Closed

The barn was closing for the month of April to give the school ponies a much-needed break, which also coincided with the coronavirus closings, but I stopped riding earlier in mid-March.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one, but I did it for my fellow students — and their families.

One of my fellow riders on my night is always accompanied by her grandmother. She’s always cold, often wears a full-length faux fur coat, but she never misses seeing her granddaughter ride.

I also think she gets a kick out of seeing me, an older student, riding and sharing experiences with her young granddaughter.

Because, as careful as I am — all my pre-Covid-19 handwashing and avoiding crowds except for open air — I feared I could carry the virus to my little friend’s grandmother. Worrying about the possibility nagged me mightily. 

In hindsight, I wish I’d considered wearing a mask then. No one thought about it. Besides, I think that was on the eve of when The Only People With Masks Should Be Medical Personnel.

Now, we’re all wearing masks or making masks.

New Barn Bag Contents

I already have leather cleaning wipes. I’m not sure how well they’ll wipe out the virus cooties. But maybe I’ll wipe my gear and the barn’s tack down before I use it.

Maybe, once we can buy them again, maybe disinfectant wipes.

My half leather/half crocheted riding gloves may not be fit for polite society thanks to some of the stains from the rein leathers, but I’m going to have to wear them while I groom and tack up.

And a mask.

I wonder what the horses will think.






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  • Maria Hillegas
    April 18, 2020

    Love it! My farrier/husband (in that order:0) is finding the reduced human traffic at the barns slightly refreshing, at least for the moment. Road travel has also been less aggravating, his schedule a little lighter. Although, I am missing hauling to the trails for my much needed weekly commune with nature. Trying to adjust accordingly.

    • Rhonda Lane
      April 18, 2020

      Hi, Maria. Yes, most of us horse people enjoy the barn as a quiet place. We’re all doing the best we can. Stay safe and well. Thanks for stopping by!