This is a blog I could never have envisaged writing. Following the joy of the Cheltenham festival, the grim realization that in seven days the world is now a vastly different place.
Life, as many of us know, will for the next six weeks and probably beyond change dramatically. The spread of COVID-19 has not been welcome news for anyone across the globe and, whilst we are a tiny percentage of the world within our horse racing bubble, I suppose one only really notices these things when they directly affect and impact on us.
With the sensible ruling from the British Horseracing Authority to cancel racing until the end of April many people in our wonderful sport face turbulent and unknown times ahead.
I have not been blogging recently due to the sheer amount of activity we had going on at the yard with racing many times a week, schooling at home, racecourse galloping and everything else that goes into caring for and training 139 horses at any one time.
Horse welfare our primary concern
However, Paul said this morning I ought to check in and let everyone know what we at the yard will be up to in the coming weeks and months.
Obviously, with Paul’s yard, our primary focus has and always will be to care for our clients horses whatever their level of ability to the same high standard. During this national health emergency we are currently developing an ever-changing plan to ensure that we can still do that.
Horses which would now be approaching the climax of the season before their summer breaks will face a markedly different April to the one they would normally experience, so instead of training hard for their last big races they will now be let down gently, their work load significantly decreased and the important and lengthy process of ‘roughing off’ begun.
Normally at the end of the season, the horses get turned out in the warm weather into huge fields of lush May grass, however at this time of the year it is far too wet, cold and there is simply not enough grass to accommodate that, so our job is to look after them in the same manner until later in the spring when that is possible.
Since the announcement was made that racing will be suspended one of Paul’s biggest concerns was the huge work force he employs and how to keep them financially stable through this time.
We have now had several meetings with the staff and, while it is an ongoing and ever-changing situation, we have reassured them all that there is still work for everyone and the intention is to keep everyone in work taking care of the horses.
So many people are now working from home, but for yards and studs around the country that is not an option and looking after the horses in our care is still of upmost importance.
The more I think about this current situation the more unbelievable I find it. I get so wrapped up in my little racing bubble and I would suggest that many people in this sport do the same.
However, I do have one hope for this weird and scary time. In a world where there seems to be a growing sense of division and unrest and people are no longer able to disagree with one another without having an argument on social media, we may start to realise how lucky we are and appreciate our lives a good deal more.
There are going to be some pretty rubbish times ahead for a lot of people I would imagine so a bit of kindness and humanity could well go a very long way.
For now though, take care and of course go well.