Reflections on Silence and Uncertainty: Equestrians’ Unique Strengths

Reflections on Silence and Uncertainty: Equestrians’ Unique Strengths

April 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic. We’re staying home. Everything is silent. Few cars are on the road; shops are shuttered; towns are empty. Barns are closed. Most of us can’t visit our horses, much less ride. Our activities are limited, reduced, eliminated. 

As the quarantine rolls on, there is an uncomfortable silence. In the early days, the stay-at-home order allowed some of us to breathe. The order was almost a relief from the over-busy-ness and constant motion of our lives. We were suddenly gifted time to do those things that we tend not to do—cook at home, sleep in, play board games, and clean out our overstuffed closets. 

But as the weeks pass, restlessness and despair have emerged. Impatience, anger, and short tempers are front and center. How long will this go on? When can we return to normal? What is normal anyhow?

Our questions sit, unanswered.

In this silent space we are called. The calls have always been there, but now they can be heard clearly. 

     We are called to search beyond our self-centered desire to return to normal.
         We are called to examine all that we enjoyed in our lives and thought nothing of before.
           We are called to notice what is truly important to us in this life, to hold close what we cherish.
             We are called to reach out to each other in ways that we have never before.
               We are called to look straight into our fears and embrace them, knowing that uncertainty is one of the worst, and now it is our constant companion. 
                 We are called to have gratitude for small moments of joy, moments that would have gone unnoticed a month ago.
                   Most of all, we are called to lean into the strength and toughness that is the hallmark of our sport. Grit—a popular general culture concept before—is something we have in our bones. Now grit is like air, essential for survival. Fortunately for us equestrians, it’s second nature.

                What will you make of this time? Will you pass the days without purpose, waiting for the return to normal? Will you become angry that you can’t ride, can’t show, or can’t even see your trusted steed?

                I think not. Equestrians, as I said before, have all the tools to adapt, to dig in, to make lemonade out of lemons. Riders, and horse people of all stripes, live with uncertainty daily.

                equestrian wellness

                We ride horses, after all. We know that a horse can scoot from underneath us in a split second. Or spin us off. Or be sound today and dead lame tomorrow. We know how to take opportunities and run with them; we know how to adjust when things fall apart; and we know how to rally ourselves in tough times. As the California fires and floods have demonstrated, when disaster hits our communities, we horse people run full force into it to help each other and our animals.

                The call is for all of us to use this silent time to reacquaint ourselves with who we are at our core and to fully devote ourselves to each day. Quarantine will lift, but our challenge is not to let things go back to normal. Our challenge is, simply, to expand into the silence and uncertainty—and come out the other side stronger, wiser, and more connected.

                Let’s do this. 

                 

                Stay abreast of Darby's coping tips specific to the COVID-19 pandemic using the links provided below:

                Darby Bonomi
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