Social Distancing and Open Order

The first time I experienced open order in a lesson, within two minutes I was like, ‘Yeah, no, thanks but let’s go back to the other way.’

The other way was warming up in a group; open order meant we were warming up, but individually.

At that stage I wasn’t riding very independently, not yet. I think I had only begun to like riding in one of the outdoor arenas as opposed to the indoor. For years, I hated being out and much preferred the safety of all those walls around the lesson, and by extension, me.

The thing was, I wasn’t going to become an independent rider if I didn’t start riding independently, and one way of doing it was advancing into a class that warmed up in open order and abided by ‘the rules of the school’. They are:

1] Pass left hand to left hand, that is, if your hand is facing into the arena, you get the track. If your left hand is facing the fence, you must ride on the inside track.

2] No walking on the track! If you’re in walk, stay in the middle. This goes for transition, too: if you want to change pace, turn in and do so.

3] Faster pace gets the outside track… which can be tricky when it’s time to canter, so you have to be aware of what everyone else is doing and act accordingly.

4] Just watch where you’re going in general; if someone in front of you is slowing down or not paying attention or who knows what, aliens have landed, turn away and do something else. Ride a circle or change the rein — safety first, always.


All of the above is in aid of the fact that I feel civilians in this time of social distancing could benefit from a modification of the structure of ‘the rules of the school’.

Look, so there I am, on the shop side of the street. A human is approaching. If that person isn’t already at the kerb, what do I do? Do I cross the street entirely to maintain the proper distance? I feel like the kerb-person is behooved to make the adjustment as necessary, after minding the traffic. So left hand/right hand isn’t useful here, but you get the idea.

Same for people jogging-slash-running, and parents who push their buggies like it’s Formula 1: if they want to pass, they need to be responsible for creating the proper distance. I mean, don’t bring your kid out into traffic, but on the other hand there is literally no traffic.

OMGGGG really need lessons to start up again… I am going stir-crazy.

I felt really angry about this whole walking-around-in-the-world thing, and man, oh, man talk about stuff outside my control. As much as I would like to introduce open order to a non-equestrian public, yeah, that’s not gonna happen.

I can only control myself. I can be grateful for a bunch of things, though:

1] I am physically able to walk around without pain.

2] I have the sea just about on my doorstep.

3] I have a choice of three large supermarkets in walking distance.

4] I am able to work from home; I don’t have all the clients I ought to at this time of year, but: that’s okay.

5] I’ve got a novel to revise and one to write, both under contract, with a third I need to start thinking about.

6] Aliens have yet to land, but who knows, it might be an improvement.

Gratitude saves the day again, even a day that doesn’t include horses — or much sanity.


Many Brave Fools: A Story of Addiction, Dysfunction, Codependency… and Horses is AVAILABLE NOW.

Order your copy today:
> In the US, click on over to Trafalgar Square Books’ site.
> In the UK and Europe, visit Quiller Publishing’s page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: