Riding through the pandemic: COVID-19 and the Dana Hall barn

After a 9-week lockdown of the Karen Stives ’68 Equestrian Center due to COVID-19, the barn is back in business … with some changes.

Last spring, when the barn was told to close its gates to all riders, “a little bit of panic” struck Ms. Sarah Summers, Director of the Equestrian Center. During the shutdown, the trainers kept the horses, over 45 of them, exercised daily. They also sent videos of the horses eating, playing and riding for their owners to enjoy.

“Keeping the horses happy and healthy” was the first priority for Ms. Summers, who says that one of the silver linings was that horses normally involved in daily lessons had the opportunity for extended rest. Trainer Carly Corbacho agrees that the pandemic has “caused many positives” for the barn, including greater sanitation of tack.

Riders are now allowed back with the horses but on a much tighter schedule. Each rider has approximately one and a half hours to tack, ride, and take care of the horse. Rachael Chandley ’21 thinks that “this new barn scheduling model … was ultimately a good thing” and says that it has pushed her to be more efficient with her time in the barn.

Ms. Corbacho initially feared the return of the riders because she has a compromised immune system but now trusts that the rules and safety protocols are working well, although she calls the barn scheduling “a grueling process.”

Photo: R. Benson ’23 with horse Hank.

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