Barnes Equestrian: Lockdown Update
In my last post around 2 weeks ago, I announced that Barnes Equestrian was going into lockdown. This post, Barnes Equestrian: Lockdown Update will explore the developments on the yard since the lockdown extension was announced and we’ll take a look at the future of how the yard will handle life post-COVID-19.
That decision was largely based on the fact that having a residential property and a yard so close together, it becomes a challenge to lockdown one and self-isolate while the other has people coming and going.
Over the last 2 weeks I’ve kept a lookout for news and updates regarding the situation. I’ve been monitoring the latest in both Ireland and the U.K. I’ve also reached out personally to the Department of Agriculture to explain my situation and ask them for official advice but am still awaiting a reply.
In light of recent developments and after feeling the impact of lockdown on my own mental health, I’ve decided it was time to open the yard back up in a limited way.
The Irish government recently released a booklet about COVID-19 and ways to protect yourself from the pandemic. If you’d wish to read the booklet, it can be found here.
It’s important for me to keep myself away from COVID-19 but as well, I want to encourage my clients to take lockdown seriously and only make essential journeys.
In many yards where DIY livery is involved, people are given that freedom to take care of their horse. My yard is full livery only, therefore the care of the horse is in my hands.
I also wanted to allow for mental health. Even though the horses here are on full livery, that doesn’t mean the owners are worry-free. In fact, being separated from their horses could place a lot of mental stress on people in an already stressful situation.
I wanted to take all of this into account. Barnes Equestrian: Lockdown Update will look at some options thought about and explore future options for the next steps in Irelands recovery from this pandemic.
There were options available to me other than an extension of lockdown. For this I also had to consider the number of visitors and timing.
Option 1, extend lockdown.
This I did not want. Simple as that.
Option 2, staggered times.
The first option was to go back to time slots and staggered times. I had this before lockdown and it worked really well. I’m lucky in that I have a great set of clients who are sensible, realistic and respectful of each other as well as any rules in place.
The reason that I didn’t go for this is because primarily I’d have the bulk of the yard work done in the morning. Therefore visits would be an afternoon thing.
As well as me rotating turnout with the horses, I’d ideally have to make time between visits to disinfect and clean. Biosecurity is a priority with regards to this virus.
With that time taken into consideration, I’d have to allow around 30 minutes between each visit for cleaning. Put into context – With 5 unique clients visiting the yard with a 2 hour window each and 30 minutes in between, that becomes 12 and a half hours. Even with Lady having left today (therefore one client down) we have that time down to 10 hours.
I personally felt that this, every day, would have been a lot and especially considering we’re reaching the peak of the spread of the virus, it would have been insane.
Option 3, alternate days.
Another alternative was to have alternate days where people share the weekdays. Again I felt that being on such a small premises during this time of essential travel only, that it was a little too much for this time. After all, I’m trying to achieve a balance between visitation and allowing myself to isolate and avoid the virus. I do however like this idea as a potential next step.
The only downside to this one is still that times will be assigned and kept strict.
Option 4, select days.
The last option I decided on was to assign days to individuals. This is the one I’ve chosen.
The reason for this is that it allows me to isolate and keep the yard under some form of lockdown while also allowing people to come up on their day and spend as much time as they want with their horse without the need to be rushed off for the next person visiting.
It allows people to relax while spending that quality time on the yard. It gives people something to look forward to in lockdown – a reward if you will. But most of all it encourages everybody to stay in lockdown and only make those essential journeys.
The Next Step
The next steps as of now are unclear. Lockdown in Ireland was extended for 3 weeks until May 5th. What happens after that is at the mercy of the virus’ spread.
The one statistic that is only going to increase is the deaths. The challenge right now is to slow the spread of COVID-19 to limit its impact on the health service. More importantly to limit the impact on the limited ICU beds. In another 2 weeks towards the end of April, we’ll start to get a real idea of how the initial 2 weeks of lockdown in Ireland. Only then will we really start to see the picture of an established lockdown.
At the end of these 3 weeks we’ll either see lockdown extended once more (presumably for around 2 weeks) or we’ll see an ease of restrictions already in place. That doesn’t mean we’ll see them lifted, but eased.
I think the logical next step is to still promote essential journeys and social distancing but removing the 2km exercise limit. We may see more businesses and shops open their doors once more while bars and clubs stay closed. If this measure is taken on May 5th, it will be under constant scrutiny and may be reverted back to a lockdown of numbers begin to increase again. The future is volatile and all going well, this could last anywhere from 4-8 weeks.
In the longer term, past that, we’ll likely see essential travel lifted and social distancing pushed heavily. Again the numbers will be watched carefully and any increase will see us revert to the previous stage. Realistically I believe it’ll be the last quarter of the year before life resembles anything close to normal.
What Does This Mean For The Yard?
When lockdown is announced as over, I’ll look to open the yard up slowly in line with what the government do. The idea is a phased normalcy.
This means that initially I’ll likely adopt a policy of alternate days. As things ease I’ll go from that back to staggered times. Then if things improve to go back to normal, I’ll phase out staggered times and give freedom once more. I’ll likely push to still have clients announce rough times. This is solely to allow anyone wishing to be extra cautious a chance to be more careful themselves.
Precautions on the yard so far
The yard is disinfected daily. All commonly touched surfaces and tools are wiped with Dettol disinfectant spray. All paths are disinfected with Jeyes Fluid.
Soap is available by the tap. Hand sanitiser, tissues and disposable gloves are all available at the sanitisation station in the hay shed.
Social distancing and good hygiene are enforced on all visitors and face-masks are advised while on the yard. I will supply face-masks when they are possible to purchase in bulk.
Everything listed in this article, Barnes Equestrian: Lockdown Update, is subject to change. We’re in a dynamic environment with a dynamic threat. I cannot afford to be static with plans of action. It’s in my interest to always try to represent the best interest of my clients. I do this as well considering their own and my own safety.
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