There’s still a pandemic

Can we talk about the elephant in the room? Everyone knows we’re still smack dab in the middle of a pandemic, right? And that large parts of country (like… the entire south pretty much) are trending really really badly in the wrong direction?

Just checking.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about continuing to live our lives and ride and take lessons and school and horse show, as long as it actually makes reasonable sense. Like smaller, shorter shows that draw a local crowd and adhere to covid protocol… okay. You can convince me of that. But national championship shows that draw large numbers of people from all over the country together in one place, require a lot of travel across states, and at least a week’s stay at said destination before everyone re-disperses? I’m just not sold on that being wise.

I definitely do agree that there is a relatively low risk of spread at the horse show itself, given that spectators are extremely limited, and given that people adhere to the guidelines (which, whether or not they do is a whole ‘nother ball of wax in and of itself), that they stay masked, and don’t congregate in large groups and/or indoor spaces. But… what about everything else involved? Like the travel to get there, which for some people can be days of hauling across multiple states, stopping at many gas stations/restaurants/etc. And then the hotel stay when you do arrive to your destination. And the going out to restaurants and into stores. And so on and so on and so on, for at least a week. So you’re gathering all these people from different places, assimilating all of them into the local population, and then sending them all back out again.

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I don’t know about y’all, but I’d be especially leery of Texans and Floridians and Californians and Georgians and and and right now (reminder: I am a Texan, and I would totally get it if you wanted me to stay the heck away, I’m doing my best to stay the heck away from other Texans too). Particularly in the states that actually have a handle on their case numbers or have made some progress at flattening the curve. Some states have put into place requirements or recommendations (lol “recommendations”, let me tell you how well that’s going with mask-wearing down here in Freedumbland) that anyone coming from the hot spot states should quarantine themselves for 14 days. How exactly would that work?

So I’m over here peering over my theoretical glasses at things like Pony Finals, AEC’s, and Equitana. I mean, does… does any of that really seem like a good idea in the next couple months? How do the residents of Kentucky (which has already had a 231% increase in cases in the last two weeks, one of the biggest) feel about that? Because, I’ll say it: it’s just not possible for no one attending these events to have covid, or to not come into contact with someone with covid somewhere along the way. Someone, or many someones, will for sure have it. Just by sheer numbers, especially from the worst states. And maybe there won’t be any transmission at the horse show, but it’s gonna be quite the feat if you can spend a whole week traveling and eating out and going to stores and manage to not either pass it on or come into contact with someone who has it.

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I kind of suspect that since it hasn’t really made an impact on the equestrian community yet – in that no one “big name” has gotten a bad case of it or died from it, and no horse related things have been reported as mass spreader events – that we’re just kinda flying under the radar and trying to pretend that we’ll be fine. But I have to wonder how wise it is to be holding national level championship events when the country is literally on fire. Yes, of course everyone wants to go. Yes, of course it would be devastating to a lot of people for these things to get cancelled. No, no one wants that. At what point is it the responsible choice, though? Are there other safer/smarter options that we could be pursuing instead?

Pony Finals is the first thing up on the docket, so we’ll see how that goes. Maybe I’m just being crazy. Maybe the covid ship has long since sailed and it’s too late anyway. Thoughts? Would you feel comfortable going? Would you feel comfortable with your barnmates going and then coming back into your shared space? If you’re in Kentucky, how do you feel about all the travelers coming into your area? Do we think all of these events will actually get to happen or will the Kentucky governor step in?

34 thoughts on “There’s still a pandemic

  1. Jr Hunter Finals West was last weekend. I know of a barn near me in Oregon that went to two or three weeks of the Great Lakes shows in Michigan then went to Sonoma for the finals and is now heading back home. That’s absolutely insane to me. Why the hell would you travel that much right now? I sincerely hope they quarantine themselves and if I ever get the $$ to be in a big barn I’m crossing that one off the list for their reckless behavior.

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  2. My husband has risk factors that cause me to be more careful than the average Joe, so there is NO WAY I’d go to one of the big events. PF seems like the worst idea EVER bc kids. Kids just cannot understand what is happening and why they need to wear masks and social distance. Then you put them in an environment FULL of kids and ponies and tell them to keep to themselves?!
    Piper Klemm was on the Horses in the Morning podcast last week and talked about how USEF owns PF, not USHJA. USHJA actually wanted it canceled, but USEF said sorry boutcha and now it’s on.
    I agree with local shows and what not. I’ve actually taken more lessons this year than ever in my life previously and it’s been GLORIOUS. Also lots and lots and lots of trail riding.

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  3. Never been happier secluded on my mountaintop in WV. Unfortunately, all the DC people are fleeing here EVERY WEEKEND and then *returning* to DC, rinse, repeat. But thank god there are still places the tourists don’t know about that I can hide away…

    Also, I howled with laughter over the “live laugh love” meme.

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  4. Jeez. I had to travel with my mom only two hours (but then spend a full day outside because we refused to go in anywhere – though we had to use public restrooms which was quite an adrenaline rush and we planned it all out before running in) and that was to get my dog the surgeries she needed so not like I could have waited until after Covid for it. It was nerve wracking and I would never do that again if I didn’t absolutely have to. For people to be doing optional travel right now is fucking crazy.

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  5. My trainer and one of the kids from the barn are going to Pony Finals. Personally, I’m not that worried since I’m not currently riding and usually end up at the barn at odd times when no one else is there. If I were able to ride and spent more time there, I would definitely be more concerned. Kansas isn’t doing so great with the COVID numbers either. We were supposed to go visit some friends about 2 hours away this weekend and now they’ve potentially been exposed to COVID, so another weekend at home it is.

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  6. I’m not even going to my niece’s birthday party in Houston in a couple of weeks because it’s just not worth the risk. I’d probably do a local show in my area if I was itching to show and had a sound horse, but no way would I spend a fortune to travel to an A show right now with the increased risk of idk- death. I was supposed to visit friends in MD in 3 weeks and am definitely canceling that trip. Also supposed to go to Equitana, but am hearing it might end up being virtual. If it ISN’T virtual, I will likely decide against participating unless things seriously change in the next 10 weeks.

    So no, you are not crazy.

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  7. Hanging out at home taking lessons. Wouldn’t necessarily feel bad about a local clinic or small show.
    But I also don’t yet feel the need to do either of those things.

    Definitely feels a bit selfish and out-of-touch to be worrying about pony finals when so many people are dying. But what do I know?

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  8. Honestly kind of glad I wasn’t able to qualify for AECs this year so I don’t have to make the choice whether to go or not. I got a bit of flack from trainers/friends for not going to Champagne Run at KHP last weekend, but I’m just not that interested in traveling that far right now (we’re in Central MO) (also I didn’t feel like it was worth driving 7ish hours to show my baby horse in starter, even if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic lol). I understand that people want to get their lives back to normal asap and pretend like nothing is happening, but obviously things are not normal, and probably won’t be for a long time.

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  9. Meanwhile in Wisconsin, our Republican-controlled Legislature and Supreme Court are more interested in stripping power from our Democratic governor, who now has no power to make unilateral state mandates to control the pandemic. And, like in the South, people around here seem to think and act like we are in a “post-COVID world” and not, you know, actually in worse shape than we were in April.
    Major shows should definitely not be held/encouraging travel across state lines and large groups of people. It’s just irresponsible especially for something like a horse show. No one will die from having their horse show canceled. People might actually die from attending, though.

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  10. It’s the entire south pretty much, the big states like Texas and Florida are getting the attention because you have large numbers of cases but some of the smaller states are actually doing worse on a per capita basis, they just have less population so it looks like it’s not as bad. I live in Alabama, they just put in a mandatory mask order last week, for *TWO* whole weeks… Everyone thinks it’s just fine, kids camps are open, they’re planning for school to start in less than a month, and my dentist keeps calling me to reschedule the crown I put off in April. It’s been a mixed bag with local horse shows on what’s running and what’s not, thankfully we have our own property and keep the horses at home so it’s just us and we sure aren’t going anywhere, even locally, partly because pandemic and partly because my work is closing next month until at least next May, because it relies on international visitors and school groups for the fall and spring season. So we were told to expect mass layoffs next month, but please keep coming to work in a pandemic in the mean time so we can have our temperature taken every 4 hours… I think a lot of places are running because they *can*, not because they *should*. It’s maddening and it means we are going to be stuck in this mess way longer than everyone else. I think the best analogy I heard was the marshmallow test, for those unfamiliar it’s a test done in psychology with kids where you bring them to a room and there a table with a marshmallow on it. They are told the adult needs to leave the room and if they don’t eat the marshmallow while they’re gone they can have two marshmallows when the adult comes back. Anyways, the United States failed the marshmallow test….

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  11. Well… KY just lowered its mandate for groups back down to no more than 10. The Governor indicated that, if cases keep rising like this, we will continue to step back the reopening phases. Soooo KHP, which is run by the KY Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, may not be open for pony finals or AECs.

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  12. Omgeee, me too! I work with folks who’ve been to Great Lakes for the last 2 weeks…no, they are not quarantining for 2 weeks after they get back and sadly Im thinking this is going to continue 😦

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  13. I live in a state with basically zero community spread and the actual lowest overall case numbers in the country and I am STILL iffy about going out and doing things. I am genuinely baffled at the number of people I see just going about their usual business in the actual hot spots. I have nearly bit my tongue off multiple times not commenting on photos of people all crowded up against each other at horse shows, vacationing, you name it.

    I mean I get it, even in the best of times there was no way of me qualifying for a national ANYTHING so I can sit here in my mediocrity corner and say “well of course I wouldn’t go to AECs!” but…REALLY? that’s the hill you’re choosing to die on? (maybe literally?)

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  14. Oh, I agree completely! And I’m in a state that’s doing pretty well right now. Like, I’m all for local one days shows. I mean… I’m not going to any. But I’m okay with other people doing it. But only because of the low numbers around here and because everything is outdoors right now.
    My state will be fining $1000 for not obeying the 14 day quarantine… but also, it’s really hard to police. So not sure that’s really doing anything.
    I’m planning to continue hiding in my house and barn for the foreseeable future. Still dreading when they decide we have to go back to work.

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  15. Tennessee sucks. The people suck. That is all (IF ANY OF YOU ARE IN TN and are normal like me then sorry) otherwise they suck. The county we live in think that they should not wear a mask. Why? Because it is a hoax. YES STILL. These people are stupid. I havent been in a real store (Besides Walgreens or Dollar General see below), restaurant etc since MARCH 15th. i have gone into our Dollar General on off hours (If there are more than 4 cars i dont stop) and I am usually the only one with a mask on. I had to go into Walgreens in the county that mandates masks and I was the only one under 60 that had a mask on (Except for the employees!) that is so stupid. Wear an effing mask people if nothing else you keep others from maybe catching it if you have it and dont know it. SIGH

    The numbers keep climbing here… My neighbor is positive. She feels fine but she lost her sense of taste and smell. So she got tested. She went to a funeral for her sister in law (with less than 10 people) a couple weeks ago and got it. Otherwise she goes nowhere.

    She is not one fo the idiots that doesnt think we should wear masks. She wore a mask at the funeral and still got it.

    This shit is real. People are just idiots. There is a small mom and pop shop near me that keeps putting up signs about it being a hoax. I refuse to stop there (NOt that i went there much). Also they are Trump supporters..so yeah….

    I dont get the big shows either…..small local events fine.

    Arghh your post just made me realizeit is not just Tennessee. Texas and Tennessee and others = Freedumbland

    laughing so hard. Also at your bad taste meme 🙂

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  16. LOL I feel like people have just been locked inside for way too long. As a Kentucky resident however, I say bring em’ on. Plus it’s interesting to note, KY has increased tripled the number of tests they were doing just 4 weeks ago so it stands to reason we are going to get a lot more cases.

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    1. Yet the % increase in cases vastly exceeds the % increase in testing. And some counties in Kentucky are seeing an positivity rate of 18%. It’s cause for concern, for sure, because things sure aren’t trending in the right direction.

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      1. Yup. The ratio of confirmed positive tests to total number of tests seems to be too hard of a concept for some people to grasp. Just like the difference between +/- 12,000 deaths annually from seasonal flu to the ever increasing north of 130,000 deaths in 6 months isn’t registering either… cause that works out to over twenty times as deadly in my book. So over the intentional obliviousness to facts + science + data right now.

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  17. I have tickets to Breeder’s Cup in KY in November. I bought them before shit got real. Now I’m desperately hoping they offer some sort of refund to reduce the number of people. Preakness did, and we bailed out immediately. If they don’t, losing a disgusting amount of money is a real possibility, because I just don’t think things are going to be remarkably improved in November. Maryland was doing great for a bit, then apparently everyone just gave up and now numbers are climbing again.

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  18. I’m in Canada and so far we haven’t seen much of it at all…which is it’s own problem because everyone (at least where I live) is totally going about business as normal and not taking anything seriously. We’re going to get hit so hard and it’s frustrating that anyone with a brain should be able to look around and see what’s coming our way…but nope, the tourists are flocking in and as far as I can see the equestrian community still has lots of events planned and it really varies as to what preventative measures are being taken (if any). Personally I think it’s ridiculous to risk other people’s lives because I want to go horse showing, but what do I know? 🙂 I’m trying to be respectful of everyone’s risk tolerances but I’m opting out of any showing or non essential travel this year.

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  19. So, so true. I feel like I’m in an alternate universe sometimes, and kids and most teens are incapable of really comprehending the risks, as apparently are many adults. My barn is running a summer camp this week for kids and initially they put them all in one small interior room in the barn to have their meals and hang out. Neither the camp staff or kids were wearing masks and they were all packed in and climbing or sitting on the boarders tack trunks. I suggested we move all of them outside and thankfully that’s the new plan.

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  20. I live in AZ and we are a hot spot to say the least. I heard yesterday that the percentage of positive tests was down to something like 23%. People were waiting 12 hours in their cars in 110 plus degree heat so who knows how many more were infected and just went home without testing. Our governor refused to issue a mask mandate, so all the mayors stepped in and said nope, masks required in public. At this point we are seeing like 80% compliance in public so hopefully the curve will flatten quickly. Still terrifying to think of sending a kid to school. I don’t envy parents right now.

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  21. i lol every time i see a giant national size show prepping to take place

    wait, is lol the right word/ its more like col (cry out loud. or laugh until i cry out loud. or just cry)

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  22. Our state was one of the hot zones. We have had very good numbers lately due to the Governor getting serious very quickly about masks and lockdowns. I have already lived through (mercifully…) a month long quarantine after my husband was diagnosed with it so I am super careful to stay safe and not put myself in crowded places for fear of going through that again with potentially a worse outcome. I live on a resort island and our visitors are completely oblivious to the danger it seems so mask orders over and above the Governors orders are beginning to be put into place. I would go to a horse show if it were here on the island but not off-island yet..

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  23. My competitive trail competitions are pretty much all regional: at any given ride, you have people there from 2-3 states, and generally also wide areas of the same state (I’m in CO, so you can drive for 6 hours and still be in CO…but be very far from your home). Nationwide, they’ve been cancelled until September (That one’s in Texas). The National board left it up to the regions and individual ride managers to make the call: which I personally support, because Texas is different than New Mexico which is different than Kansas. I cancelled my ride in September in CO not strictly because of COVID, but because I didn’t have enough competitors interested (because nobody wants to travel) to make it financially possible to put on the ride.

    I also ride dressage. One of the bigger annual dressage shows, in Estes Park, is “on” this year. I signed up to go: It’s not so big as to attract people from other states (maybe in a normal year, but it’s also not exactly easy to get to and involves mountain hauling, which scares a lot of people!), but its an expensive USEF-rated show. I chose to sign up this year because it’s the only show I’ll do: in a normal year, I simply couldn’t afford it. It’s about an hour and a half haul for me (so no need to stop along the way), and I’ll be staying in my living quarters horse trailer (so no hotel). We’ll (as in my immediate family) bring our own food, and we generally stay away from others anyway. I’m actually looking forward to it because it’s an experience I wouldn’t normally get to have.

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  24. I’m still in shock that they are holding Derby at 25% capacity. I’m like excuse me what? Covid is blowing up in KY right now. Scary. And the Indy 500 is still happening at 50% capacity I think. That’s just 2 hours away. wtaf

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