To ride or not to ride – that is the coronaquestion

Anyone tired of corona yet?

Coronavirus Memes To Help You Get Through These Scary Times

I am definitely glad that I didn’t have any grand dreams or aspirations for the year, show-wise. I picked a convenient time to lay low and focus on other things. Of course, if this whole apocalypse thing could have waited until after the SO had started his new job (oh good, his start date has been delayed and thus now he’s technically unemployed), and after we had already bought the tiny house and rented out our house in the city (my eye is twitching just thinking about the crash of 2008), that would have been ideal. But, at least it waited until after I wasn’t boarding anymore, and when I’m living out on the farm. Definitely mega grateful for that.

I still get to see the horses every day, no matter what. They still have to be fed and turned out, stalls still have to be cleaned, arenas still have to be dragged, water troughs still have to be scrubbed, etc etc. In that way, nothing has changed for me. And as I see friends that are no longer able to go out to their boarding barns to see their horses at all, I feel really lucky. Trying to imagine being stuck in my house in the city and unable to see my horses is enough to drive me bonkers just thinking about it. Who knows what kind of weird hobbies I would have taken up by now if that was the case. Origami, or meditation, or whittling… something like that probably.

childfree

But on the farm, life hasn’t really changed much. Except that I’m home more, which is honestly really nice. The care of the horses is a non-negotiable, obviously, a daily thing that isn’t optional and can’t stop. There’s still that elephant in the room though, the question I keep running through my mind. At what point is riding too risky?

Some countries and states have already cut off recreational sports entirely. Not because of the risk of spreading covid while participating, but because of the risk of injury which then puts you in the hospital. When the hospitals are already super strained, ending up there because you fell off a horse seems ridiculously asinine. Because of that, other people have already voluntarily chosen to stop riding.

I completely understand that decision, and I go back and forth with it myself. I sure don’t want to be the asshole using up precious resources because I was selfish and wanted to ride my horse. On the other hand… I won’t lie, I do want to ride my horse. My horse stays soundest when he’s ridden regularly, even just lightly. However, it’s not an out-and-out necessity, and I won’t pretend that it is.

Presto now throws his fly boots over the neighbors fence, because he is a butthole

So, while I haven’t stopped riding yet, I have done a few things to modify my regular behavior. 1) I’m not riding as much. 6 days a week has gone down to more like 4 days a week. 2) I’m keeping it simpler. No big jumps, or tricky courses, or road hacks, or long conditioning rides over terrain. I’ve only jumped a couple times, and only a handful of jumps, and with those I set up things that were more likely to cause a run-out (ie skinnies) than a crash – proven to reduce the risk of a fall. Mostly though I’m just doing short hacks or flatwork rides in the arena. Basically, I’m trying to reduce some of the risk. 3) I’m keeping an eye on our local cases and our local ER’s. Right now, our county has 6 cases, and the local ER’s and urgent cares are operating without issue.

Of course, the situation evolves rapidly, so I’m constantly re-evaluating. We’re in weird, new territory that none of us really know the best way to handle, so I think much of it depends on the individual situation and trying to make the best choices you can for yourself day by day. I know there will come a point where local cases start to spike, and I very well may have to shut it down and stop riding altogether. Granted, the closest I’ve come to really injuring myself lately was when I had to climb over the back fence to retrieve one of Presto’s fly boots, or when I whacked the shit out of my head on a stall door because I am a klutz. There’s no way to take all the risk away when I’m at the barn every day, so… I’m just trying to be smarter about it and keep an eye on the world at large, knowing that the situation is ever-evolving.

How is everyone else doing? Still riding, or not? Going to the barn, or not?

34 thoughts on “To ride or not to ride – that is the coronaquestion

  1. My horses are at home, so I also have that luxury (and boy does it feel like a luxury right now). I have 2 rideable horses and a retiree. One of the rideables got a decently bad wire cut playing over the fence with the neighbor’s new boarders last week, so he’s on a break. I’m riding the other one a bit less mostly just because of all the rain we have gotten, but when I do ride I don’t jump and I avoid areas and things that tend make her a bit crazy. Just hacking around is good for my brain right now. I work in HR and work is incredibly stressful.

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  2. Still riding…for now. My barn has essentially closed down to clients (a lot of them are out-of-state), but it is a show barn with 30+ horses in training, so they do still have to keep going on some level. I am a client/student, but my horse isn’t in full training. It’s a tricky place to be. I want to keep him moving because, like yours, he is soundest when he is kept moving, but I don’t want to put myself or others at risk. I have talked with my trainer about lessons/riding on a near daily basis and made decisions that way. If my county were to blow up with cases, which we are seeing a steady rise, I think I would stop riding. Weird times we are living in….weird times.

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  3. I was still going for a little while and taking precautions, but I’ve since stopped. I would feel differently if both me and my husband were able to quarantine otherwise, but he’s essential personnel and still has to go interact with members of the community in an area with a lot of confirmed cases. The chances of him (and therefore me) being exposed and being able to spread it in communal spaces are not trivial so I’m on complete lockdown. Luckily I was able to put Frankie in more training rides since my trainer lives on the property and I’m getting plenty of updates, but it’s also kinda torturous to not be able to see him and spend time with him. He’ll be totally fine and is getting great care and will probably love a slightly lighter schedule, I’m the one going bonkers haha.

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  4. I suggest a long-handled picker, or grabber as some call them for retrieving Presto’s fly boots. It’s tool on the end of a handle that the picks things up. Maybe you could teach Presto to use it heh heh heh. 🙂

    The only real problem is going to Lowe’s or Home Depot to get it, with an excuse as to why this trip is essential in case you are challenged. jk! i hope

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  5. My boarding facility is down to scheduling visits for each boarder, 2 times a week for 2 hour slots. It’s tough but understood as it is paramount that the staff stay healthy to take care of 20+ horses on the farm.

    So for me? That means no riding. I have a feisty 4 year old mare, it’s not wise to try and make that work. So we’re lunging/longlining, groundwork, teaching half steps, teaching to self-load in the trailer and going on in hand trail walks.

    Do I wish I could see her more and get back to riding? Yes. Is it really hard to watch her be all fancy on the lunge? Yes. Do I want to be lawn darted and sent to the hospital where I get to explain to the healthcare staff that I fell off my horse? No. So here I sit.

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  6. My horses are also at home, and it does make the to ride or not to ride question harder IMO. Those who have had barns shut down means it’s a clear decision for them – they just can’t go/ride. Obviously here the horses still need to be fed, watered, etc. because that’s just how life goes when you live on a farm.

    For the time being I’ve still chosen to keep riding, although it’s been forcefully dialed back due to increased workload at work (I am not able to stay home for work). When I do ride, I’ve been keeping it fairly straightforward and simple. I’ll still probably jump a bit, but small/simple ones and not very often (mostly to keep Banner from losing his marbles – he does best with 1 jump day every week or two or he gets a little too wild when we go back to jumping).

    As the situation continues to unfold, I may reevaluate, but both of my TBs also stay soundest when they’re at least doing *something*, so I intend/hope to keep them going as much as I feel is safe & smart. It will be interesting to see how/if my decision changes in the upcoming weeks.

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  7. It sounds like you are cutting down your risk while keeping Henry mildly conditioned. I think riding Presto right now, sensible as he is, he is still young and all youngsters are unpredictable so maybe let him grow and do ground work…lunge over cavelletis, etc for now. For me, I am in the Orlando area and the boarding barn where my mare is living is still open. Only a handful of boarders there and all are consciously practicing social distancing and sanitation. I have had my mare in full training and planned a busy show season. She is in great condition and ready to get some more Fourth Level+ dressage scores. With shows cancelled and losing a ton in the stock market right now, I am forced to re-evaluate her full training schedule (and cost). Just spoke to trainer to try and work out a half training deal (1/2 the rides at 1/2 the cost) rather than full trainjng but she was not interesting in negotiating. As for if riding seems too risky or irresponsible, I think it will depend on the horse to some degree. While riding is never 100% safe, we can make good choices. I may just take over riding my mostly sensible mare in the very controlled environment of our arena, keeping it simple, to maintain her fitness until normal life resumes.

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  8. I have too many blessings to complain about anything right now. I am bless to be able to work from home, have my horses in my backyard and kids who have adjusted to homeschooling. I don’t have much time to ride but the fact that I can look out my window and see them is keeping me sane. I know so many people who are boarding and don’t know when they will get to see their horses again. Kind of grateful for the 2008 crash because the way we live now is because of decisions we made after the 2008 crash.

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  9. I quit riding (officially) when I went to hop on bareback the other day and realized that my not inexpensive three step mounting block was a casualty of hurricane Dorian. Apparently they float. It’s probably just out back in the swamp… with the water moccasins. Being the generator of two other people’s livelihoods besides my own has kept me on the ground mostly, for a while…

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  10. I’m still riding at the moment. My barn has set up all kinds of bio security rules. So much so that, when I got to the barn yesterday for my lesson, I was the only one there other than my instructor and only the 2nd person at the farm all day. I will say that we dialed stuff way back in my lesson yesterday: making things more simple and lower. We’re working on basics. However, as we all know, anytime you are around horses (forget even on them) there is a risk of ending up the hospital. So… we will see how long it lasts.

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  11. Our barn closed over 2 weeks ago so have not been able to ride. Both our horses are in training board and are steady enough that I’m not too worried about Trainer exercising them, although anything can happen because Horses. She’s certainly dialed it back though and is just flatting or doing groundwork like long-lining and lunging.

    DH (ER nurse) says so far our local hospital is not getting as many patients who really didn’t need the ER, as they used to. Like those who’ve had a pain for weeks and finally decided to drop in. But the virus cases are accelerating and he said the shit is really gonna start hitting the fan around our neck of the woods.

    I do have a few retirees in my back yard so I do get my horsey fix now any time of the day I want, which I am forever grateful for.

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  12. I haven’t been out to the barn in 2 weeks now. It’s not closed, but I haven’t gotten any information about what they are doing as a precaution and really, it’s not necessary that I go and add any risk to the people on the property. Cosmo is fine with some time off, and I am happy to pay my trainers a bit more to turn him out rather than add to their risk. Cosmo’s lesser is still going out, that is her call, so he’s not just sitting around in his stall or standing in place in turnout. It’s hard when it’s nice out an I’m going stir crazy, but I keep coming back to it’s just not necessary that I ride or even go to the barn.

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  13. I’m still riding, but definitely am embracing feelings of guilt about it. At the same time, my horses are confined to a dry lot. They need the exercise to stay sane; the less they get out to work, the more unruly they become. I suppose I could hand walk them each to give them daily exercise, but oof, that would be quite a chore and would honestly probably pose me more risk over time because it wouldn’t help burn off enough of their energy.

    Like you, I’ve dialed back the type of riding I’m doing to be most safe. I haven’t jumped and likely won’t jump much at all, we’re sticking to areas we are really familiar with with good footing, and we aren’t pushing it too hard at all. Lots of trotting and marching up the mountain. I’m very fortunate that each of my horses is basically a seasoned pro at this point. I’ve mitigated for as many risks as possible!

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    1. This is pretty much my situation as well. I have a high-energy Arabian (trained and conditioned for distance trail riding), and giving her even a week off (even with some brief turnout!) causes her to be a bit more “spirited” than usual. So I’m still keeping her busy. We’re not jumping (shame, we were JUST getting going with that!) because she’s still SUPER green to it. We’re doing our dressage, and working hard at it. We’re still hitting the trails when we can, which is hit or miss with the weather this time of year (Colorado: where it’s either 65 degrees or snowing. Sometimes one day after another, like this week….65 yesterday, 21 and snowing today). My barn is open with restrictions, and so far it’s worked out. It’s a moderately sized barn with no trainers or lessons, and a lot of owners do much of the care themselves: the barn feeds and cleans stalls/pens, but it’s pretty much up to owners for everything else, like blanketing, turnout, feeding supplements, medications, etc. I think when they sat down and looked at it, they realized that their current staff couldn’t handle all of that additional work (blanketing one horse? Not so bad. Blanketing 40? Much more time involved!) so they chose to enact restrictions and see how it goes. So far, so good.

      My worst horse-related injury happened [last year] when I was blanketing a friend’s horse: a horse with whom I was very familiar and who was familiar with me. She simply had a “moment” and I was in the way, and got kicked. It happens. This instance proves that the risk is never zero, no matter how well you know the horse or how well trained it is. I’ll do everything I can to minimize risk (like wear a helmet, stick to known trails, wear my body protector, be aware of footing, not jumping, etc) but there’s only so much we can do. I don’t trust that my horse wouldn’t injure me on the ground if I stopped riding her completely (she wouldn’t do it intentionally, but we all know sh*t happens), so it’s safest for me to keep her working. If I could give her a couple acres to roam, that would be a different story, but I don’t have that luxury.

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  14. I am the wife of a nurse. He went from having only dialysis patients to now having dialysis patients that also have COVID within the space of a week. So he is in the middle of the shitstorm.

    Given the insider’s view I have on the situation, I personally think it is absolutely asinine to be riding right now, when in our state even chemotherapy and radiation have been postponed indefinitely. (Our governor did not until we were in dire straits; we are currently under shelter-in-place.) I stopped riding a week before my state decided to ban it (it’s in the fine print, but it’s there) and my self-care boarding facility implemented a strict “visitors only allowed for horse care purposes” rule. They actually provided us with an essential employees letter so that we can continue to see and take care of our horses. But no riding, and the owners live on property so they *are* able to enforce it.

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  15. I’ll be riding as long as humanly possible because I am 14 weeks pregnant and am literally counting the days until I am too large to mount up anymore 😦 That being said, we are doing very light work and it’s mostly just to keep my senior mare mobile and my mental health intact… Long walks in our back field, light w/t/c work in the arena, no risks or pushing to try new things. I also moved all of my tack and gear into my horse trailer so that I don’t have to go in the barn and shared area (except for weekly filling of supplement baggies) and can significantly reduce my “footprint” at the barn; I fetch mare from her paddock, tie up at the trailer for tacking and go straight into our unfenced arena, repeat for untacking. I was stoked to fit one last HT into my life this May before baby comes, but it was cancelled the other day and although that was a bit of a tough pill to swallow at the time, I’m really enjoying the relaxation of no training program and no pressure to get us fit. Long, casual hacks are filling the void perfectly right now.

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  16. I am so lucky to have my horses at home as well. Spring soundness issues have kept our work light, but although they mostly live out on what right now is a 4 acre dry lot (Quarantine stopped our spring building and pasture work). However, both of my horses ‘self exercise’ to the tune of $$$ vet bills if left too long. We have started replacing our road hack with road hand walks, and have upped the number of times I lunge as apposed to ride. It is an interesting thing to think about. For me, the exposure to the virus would probably be the worst outcome, my lungs are crap due to uncontrolled asthma, and my county has 444 tested positive cases right now.

    I think i may stop riding bareback entirely (this is my usual go to for flat work), it is just not worth the risk.

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  17. Our barn has been closed to all but staff & essential services (feed, farrier, vet) since March 18th. My leased horse has been on full stall rest since the 25th. While I trust my barn to look after her, I feel helpless.

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  18. Our barn is completely closed since Houston instituted the stay-at-home order, and I’m working from home. So I’m just hanging out in my small 1 bedroom apartment in the city – basically your worst case scenario! At least I have a balcony.

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  19. NC was officially “stay at home” as of 5 pm on the 30th, so I did ride in my normal lesson on Sunday. T says she is comfortable with whatever each individual is comfortable with, but officially the lesson program has been stopped for now. The stay at home order currently goes through the 17th. I have opted to not ride at least through the 18th. We’ll see what happens. If they extend the stay at home order I may reevaluate and choose to continue to not ride. 😦 I think her horses are very well schooled and very reliable. BUT, they are still horses and we all know that even the most well-trained, well-behaved horse can be dangerous in the right situation. So, I am totally with you on not wanting to end up in the hospital. Also, my husband has expressed concerns about me going to the barn and being in contact with people. I know that horse safety already = social distancing but also don’t want to cause unnecessary stress on our relationship by continuing to be selfish and exposing myself to other people (whose actions I can’t control) just to relieve some stress for a few hours. It sucks and really I don’t want to not ride. But the mature adult in me (Boo for adulting!!!) says it’s just not worth the risk right now. Hopefully this will be over sooner rather than later so we can all get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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  20. I am at a self care barn so must go every day at least to get chores done. The week this all started (three weeks ago) I fell off a Pilates reformer and badly bruised or broke my tailbone. So, I have not been riding out of necessity. That said, if I could ride I’m not sure I would be anyways. I am in essential services in local government and my job has become so stressful and hard that when i do get out of work every day I am so exhausted mentally and emotionally that I don’t have a lot to offer my horse. I have lunged some and groomed some but that’s it. If we slow down to crisis management versus full on crisis I may get back in the saddle once my butt heals just so he doesn’t become totally feral. Mercifully he is really safe so I feel comfortable with that. All that may change if we have the expected surge in cases. Our hospital is tiny so I will not put myself in a situation that will burden the hospital.

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  21. Still riding. It has not been outlawed here and trainer, while monitoring the situation, is keeping the barn open.

    I only go twice a week anyway and I’m often the only person on the premises besides trainer and/or stall cleaner, so I have zero trouble social distancing. The only things I touch that others do are a couple of door handles and the cross-tie clips (and I’m going to stop using the latter). So I feel pretty safe. I don’t jump and my lease horse is a solid, non-spooky fellow who I wouldn’t ride at all if he scared me. That said, I ALWAYS wear a helmet and exercise caution on my solo ie. not lesson rides.

    I feel guilty about this but am extremely grateful to still have my horse life as a constant and my escape/sanity-keeper. I will stop immediately, though, if necessary.

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  22. My barn closed a week ago today, but I had already made the decision that would be my last day because my husband works in healthcare and is essential personnel. No matter how carefully I isolated I could not possibly avoid every chance of exposure. Before, I was riding carefully – not risking outside yet (spicy horse after a winter inside).

    I think it’s a smart choice to stop riding, but I don’t have it in me to be angry with anyone for still riding if they have the opportunity. I know how much I miss it.

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  23. I haven’t been riding – I’ve had to self-isolate since I woke up with a sore throat last Monday. In my province, if you have any symptoms you are legally required to stay home for 10 days – you can’t leave your property during your isolation as of yesterday. I’m on my last day and back to work, out of the house, tomorrow.

    My barn is still open to boarders to ride. I don’t know if I’m going to. I’m hoping to get out twice a week but I don’t know if there will be any point in riding very fresh horses. They probably will be better off getting free time to play loose in the arena. Also it’s stupid cold here yet again – that makes the riding decision easier.

    I don’t know what to do. I kind of feel guilty for leaving the house. I also don’t trust how well the barn is getting disinfected.

    In the meantime, I’ve decided to take up running again. Inside, on my treadmill. We’ll see how long that lasts!

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  24. I’ll echo Amanda – I’m not riding (nor could I because #1 my barn is closed and #2 I have no time), but I don’t have it in me to be angry about anyone who is. I’d probably side eye you for schooling XC, but I have far better things to lose my shit at right now.
    And yes, we’re in the middle of the shitstorm, but we also still had a kid come into the ED last week with popcorn kernels in both ears and a grown adult the week before with “squirrel bite, initial encounter.” Life happens. But don’t put popcorn in your ears for a while (ever?), maybe.

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  25. Still riding for the time being, but it’s reached a point where I’m going to speak with my employer about working from home. We’ve been trying for a while to get VPNs set up for everyone (like, since last fall), but it hasn’t been an easy process. I’m likely going to be adjusting my ride times to avoid people as much as possible, and I doubt I’ll be taking my lesson this month despite it already being paid for.

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  26. My barn went into full lock down 2 weeks ago. A few boarders took their horses home til this is all over otherwise our BO has been awesome about sending weekly photos and keeping us in the loop.

    They decided today that they’ll let us come out once a week for an hour to see them but we can only use one area and have to disinfect everytime we use things. We’re also not allowed in the barn so they have to bring our stuff out to us.

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  27. I am thankful every single day that I moved my boys home last fall. No matter what I get to see and interact with them every day.

    I rode my super safe guy for a walk only ride yesterday and felt no guilt about it. And my less predictable guy has a severe stone bruise so he’s off for now anyway. Once he’s back though, I will probably ride. (Obviously depending on the environment of how my area evolves…We also are not hard hit at this point.) But I’d make sure he wasn’t in one of his more spirited moods and do “safer” rides. Nothing along the road. No new adventures. He stays happiest and safer on the ground if he’s ridden regularly so at this point it would definitely be worth it….we’ll see how the world looks in a couple weeks when he’s healed.

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  28. I am officially separated from the tall kids. It’s horrible, but I know it’s the right thing. Just so weird that this happens the first time I decide to board for the winter.
    Prior to separating from the horses, I was having the same debate about whether or not to ride. Shiny is a known stumbler, and we did have that fall together back in December. So riding her did seem like somewhat or a risk. I had decided to ride lightly (mostly walk/trot, no jumping) until I finally decided to stay home. I think everyone needs to do what’s right for them and their horses. While also staying aware of what’s happening around them of course. CT is getting hit fairly hard with temporary hospitals being erected everywhere- vacant nursing homes, tents in parking lots, etc. Realizing that helped me decide to stay home. Even if I was being super careful to not get infected, I would definitely be an ass if I got hurt riding my pony given the level of stress on the hospital resources here.
    I think you’re staying informed and making good choices.

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  29. I’m still riding here in Canada however I definitely backed off the higher risk activities. We have 19 mild cases that are all at home and they are international travel (and had quarantined themselves upon arrival home) related in my province. All non-essential business are closed and people are having to self isolate for 14 days if they have been out of province with fines for those who don’t($1000+). And everyone is to practise self isolation and distancing. At the barn only one person at a time allowed, all common touch area’s are sprayed with verikon in between people’s. Max three rides a week. The Horse’s at my barn all live outside 24/7 so I happy that they are least out and moving. Both my horse’s are fairly fit ( B. C. I had planned on preliminary when show season was to start in two month’s) and I definitely noticed more spice with the amount of rides being reduced from 6 to 3 days a week. However they are solid citizens and I feel that risk covid-19 and of my getting hurt are still low at this point in time. However barn owner has said that if we get in to community spread she will have to close the barn.

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