Coping with Coronavirus with Alex Holman

Coping with Coronavirus with Alex Holman

As I rent a block of stables at what is mainly a DIY yard, we are taking lots of precautions against the spread of the Coronavirus. Although my part of the yard is running mainly as usual, myself and groom Dannii are splitting each day up so we both get a break after such a busy winter, which also helps us to avoid contact.

Some of the measures we are taking on the yard include: making sure to keep a 2m+ distance at all times, and only 1 person at a time in the tack room and feed room, wearing gloves at all times, especially when using shared yard tools, washing hands thoroughly and regularly, and using hand sanitiser around the yard including on arrival and when leaving. Everyone is taking extra care when riding, with no jumping or galloping allowed (or necessary!) and some people have turned horses away or are riding from the fields to minimise risks all round. My landlady Vanessa has given us a timetable for when each person can come to the yard, which seems to be working well so far as the yard is split handily into lots of different sections.

Just before the government announced their latest ‘lockdown’ measures I gained the ride on a new (4*) horse, a homebred mare called Pink Diamond, owned by Jane Bailey, who also owns 2* horse Rock Solid with me. This extra time without competing is allowing me to form a partnership with her, without the pressure of preparing for any events, and she is already coming on well and enjoying life at her new home – and yes, there is still work to be done even on a horse that has competed up to 4*!

My own Ebart Nita, Alfie, is still in almost full work, as he is still at the end of his tendon rehab programme, and it suits him better physically and mentally to be in work. The same goes for 6yo Rathnageera Aussie, Billy, as he loves his work and as a low mileage 6yo he still has lots to learn. I have reduced their work from 6 to 5 days and I have taken out all fitness work and, although they still hack and do hillwork, I am not trotting them out hacking, or doing canter work, so that their hacking is much more of a ‘switch off’ day than usual. As Carrick Diamond Bard, Gerry, has worked so hard this winter plus we managed to squeeze in an Intermediate run before proceedings were halted, I felt that it was a good time to give him a little break, so he’s been enjoying some down time in the field, which is good for his brain. He will build back into full work slowly, hopefully in time for a couple of 3*/Advanced runs at the end of the year. Both 2* horses Rock Solid & Hocus Pocus are enjoying holidays in the field, as it isn’t necessary for them to stay in work in the grand scheme of things, and I can’t travel to ride them to keep their brains occupied so simply hacking might not be enough for 2 fit horses ready to run…!

I only keep a very small number of horses based at my yard, so this period is having a huge impact on me. I have had to completely stop freelance riding and teaching, which is making my schedule significantly more relaxed, but I would much rather be busy. It is hard to stay positive when life changes so much and provides new and even bigger challenges to the everyday ones, but this will pass and I am feeling lucky to still have the horses, and am thinking of everyone else who is much worse off. Taking time to relax and spend extra time with the horses, both on their backs and off is quite refreshing, especially while we’ve been enjoying such sunny days recently.

Alex Holman.

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