Laurel View on Lockdown #Log 4

Blue keeps an eye on us

It’s May! Is it just me, or does time still fly whilst simultaneously feeling as if it is moving at a snail’s pace? I suppose some sense of normality returned this week, in that if you skipped the regular news and just watched the weather forecast instead, we saw the return of Northern Irelands typical state of rain. I know last week I said that we needed rain for the grass, and we did. But that does not mean I like it. Same way I add a dash of spinach to my morning smoothies, I absolutely despise the stuff, but it’s meant to be good for me (side note – I take all my dietary and medical advice from professionals and not Americas president).

After waiting for the hail to subside to avoid getting pelted by ice rocks, I went to turn horses out in the depressing drizzle that persisted. Whilst doing so I couldn’t help think about all those early 2000s music videos in which people like Beyoncé danced seductively in the rain and that if Rhianna isn’t going to use her umbrella I would really like to borrow it, as in comparison I look like a swamp monster that has just emerged from our pond. Belle and Winnie grazing

In other news, our cheeky chappy Addy has made a good recovery getting up to his usual mischievous antics. He has been using his time in lockdown for some self-development. I’m considering nominating him for an Oscar for most convincing performance, as he spends much of his time trying to get people’s attention and persuading them to feed him with his big beaming puppy dog eyes and undeniably adorable face. When he isn’t trying to charm his way to getting extra food, he’s teamed up with his lockdown companion Marvin training themselves as expert escape artists having made two successful attempts in a week. Additional measures have had to be put in place to stop this devilish duo from causing additional late-night havoc.

This week’s exercise comprised of a mixture of ridden pole work, which is great for strengthening and encouraging them to engage their hindquarters, and lunge work, which is excellent for improving their suppleness. Both these exercising tools are fantastic for supplementing the development and maintenance of a horse’s performance throughout their lives, offering a range of benefits. Some of the horses that were lunged this week included Cindy, Guinness, Lass and Toby. Depending on how frequently they get lunged some of our riding school ponies can be more challenging to lunge than others as they are less familiar with it. For instance, Guinness decided one rein he could do, but the other rein just wasn’t really his style, taking some more encouragement. Toby on the other hand got the aim of the game well so got to have a little more excitement getting lunged through the water jump. Although, last week’s wonderfully clean tail is now no more!Toby has had a good groom

On a more serious note, this week we received money to support us through these difficult times from the British Horse Society Hardship Fund. Whilst it’s important we acknowledge that lots of other small businesses like ourselves are struggling during these times, as we’ve mentioned before, it’s not possible for us to turn the lights off until this is all over. We must still feed and exercise the horses, in addition to covering the cost of ongoing farrier and vet bills, all without our usual income from lessons, competitions etc. There is no pause button where animal welfare is involved. We are extremely grateful to the BHS for this support, as without these funds we would struggle to survive both the current situation and unfortunate long-term effect it is likely to have.

We have never run Laurel View solely for financial purposes, we run Laurel View because it is home and for many others it’s a sanctuary, somewhere to escape. The animals, employees and people that support our business have somewhat become family and if these extremely difficult times have taught us anything it’s how much we value our friends and family. That is why we will continue to keep fighting through this, so we can welcome everyone back with open arms once it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we will continue to try spread the love digitally. Please remember to check in on your friends and family, but do not neglect your own mental health either. It’s okay to not be okay. I have attached a couple of helpline numbers below in case anyone is seeking additional support.Heather says Hi

Lastly, I would like to thank one of our incredible RDA volunteers who has very kindly allowed us to graze three of our youngsters on her land after we had mentioned how quickly grass was depleting. We have also received offers from some of our very supportive customers to sponsor some of our ponies, at this time we are not doing anything like this. However, we greatly appreciate your generosity and kindness. We trust we can rely on your continued support and while we are still restricted socially for the common good, connecting and interacting with you over the World Wide Web is very well received and helps to maintain morale among the Laurel View team. I’ll be back next week with the next instalment of Laurel View on Lockdown.

Samaritans: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)

Aware NI: 07548530931 or 07340488254 (Mon-Fri 11am-3pm)

PAPYRUS: HOPELINEUK 0800 068 4141 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 10pm, and 2pm to 10pm on weekends and bank holidays)

Refuge (domestic abuse): 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline)

Lass lunge time