Life With Horses: COVID Can't Scare Us

Life With Horses: COVID Can't Scare Us

Even in challenging times, horse people pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

pulling up boots by bootstraps (Credit: Doug McElreath)

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Editor's Note: This column appears in the June-July 2020 issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal, the official AQHA publication. The Journal is now sent to all AQHA members eight times per year. See what else lies in store in the current issue

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By Pamela Britton-Baer

Show season? What show season? At least I’m alive. But the reward for all the hard work – riding during the winter, traipsing through nasty weather to blanket my horse, working eight hours, only to spend another four at the barn, then getting up and doing it all over again – has been delayed. Still, I love my horses.

My takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic? If there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, city slickers will have plenty of toilet paper, but they won’t have the mental toughness that horse people possess. Don’t get me wrong, I fully respect the seriousness of the situation. People have died. A lot of people have been and continue to be on edge. But as I scrolled through social media, I began to realize something: Horse people are sane.

Nonhorse people are not. And big-cat people are c-r-a-z-y. Nonhorse people whose extracurricular activities were canceled have been unnerved by their newfound spare time. Horse people said, “I got this.” Those who began working from home spent their breaks, lunch hours, evenings and weekends with their horses. And risk tolerance is a given. Horse people ride, care for and love an animal that is sometimes unpredictable. A virus? Has a virus ever seen a drifting white plastic bag and decided it was time to head for Idaho? When horse people do occasionally become separated from the saddle, most of them gasp, “I have to finish this class first,” while hauling themselves back onto their steeds. As for tetanus, well, most of us sucked on rusty horseshoes and played in cow poop as kids. Germs don’t scare us.

I was pretty impressed with how horse people entertained themselves while they were sheltering at home. Charlie Cole’s The Virtual Horse Show on Facebook – genius! How about the courage it took for people to post a video of themselves completing a pattern with their horse in front of an audience much larger than what they’d find at a live horse show? It was refreshing to see the trainer bloopers contest, to know that even the pros have bad rides. Hilarious and yet inspiring. The sharing of horse pictures, especially those of new foals hitting the ground, deserves a big thumbs up. 

The reality is that my horse friends are pretty resourceful. They don’t worry about toilet paper because they’ve perfected the art of going in makeshift porta potties in the back of a trailer without getting their boots wet. Eating out? We’re pretty darned good at tossing items into a slow cooker or slapping some meat between two slices of bread and feeding an entire barn. Self-isolation? We have years of experience hanging out with nothing but our horses. Yup, my horsey friends have it going on. So if the world is ever besieged by a virus that turns people into zombies, I’m calling my horse peeps. All joking aside, though, stay safe everyone.


Pamela Britton-Baer has been a special contributor to the Journal for 12 years. Her humor column focuses on the ups and downs of horse ownership. To get a message to her, write to