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What Matters? What and How > When

We can take it for granted that everyone would like to get back to two months ago when we could go to the barn, ride and train our beautiful American Saddlebreds, go to shows, enjoy them and love them.

And, we can take it for granted that everyone wants to know the answer to the “When” questions. “When will we be able to go back to the barn?” “When will we be able to go to a show again?”

But the real questions that we need to be asking are the “What” questions and the “How” questions. “What do we have to do to get back to the barns with riding and lessons?”, “What will shows need in order to be able to open up again?”, “How can I help?”

Recently the Joint Leadership Council published the results from a survey of almost 4,000 members of the associations that make up the JLC. You can see the results here. The results are instructive—it seems that people want to go back to the barns and go to shows but are apprehensive. In almost equal parts, we envision it happening now, or in the next few months or later this year, and we’re willing to accept distancing, wear masks, and observe sanitation guidelines. We’re willing to stay in hotels to some extent but really don’t want to get on airplanes now. And, unfortunately, many see the economic hardships that are accompanying this pandemic precluding us from participating this year.

So, what do we do? And How do we do it? As discussed in the What Matters column last week, we have to do it step by step—diligently and safely.

First, we have to get people back to the barns. It’s hard to imagine going to a show before we can safely and successfully manage riding lessons and performance horse practice in our own home barns. The JLC will be releasing shortly Best Practices in regards to opening barns and training facilities. The challenge with this is that states and counties are governed by different guidance from local officials. So, we can expect to see things happening at different timetables throughout the country. We would be wise to look to the barns and trainers and instructors in the parts of the country that open earlier to learn from them.

Once we’ve come to terms as to what it takes to open our barns, then it’s time to turn to shows. As demonstrated through the survey, maybe we start small and look to our local shows. We have indicated that we’re willing to drive to a show. This is the best way to “stretch our leg ups”, so to speak. Plus, these local shows likely have lower costs, certainly shipping costs, associated with them.

We can entertain regional shows sooner rather than later as well. These are the heartbeat of our industry, and we can patronize many of them while traveling by car. We all hope as well that the bigger, more national shows will be available within the next several months as well. People will stay in hotels and restaurants are starting to open up as well for more than take-out. But even if we have to take out, we can certainly eat in our hotel rooms.

This is a very fluid situation that we live in with very few solid answers. So, we have to plan, and we have to have plans B through Z, as well. But, as the boxer, Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” So, we have to be wise enough to know that despite our best plans, things can change dramatically in a moment. So, it was versus six weeks ago, and so it will be six weeks from now. Things will change; people will adapt; the horses will stay constant.

We will be together soon. It may be a different kind of togetherness, but it will be togetherness. We will enjoy our horses. We will enjoy our friendships. We will enjoy ourselves.

What Matters? Not asking When, but asking What and How.

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