Thought of the night (and a picture of my cute horse just for attention): not all of us are going to come out of this crisis ok. And I’m not talking about people getting sick or dying, although statistically, that will happen too.
There are a lot of wonderful stables, coaches, and lesson programs already hanging by a financial thread at the best of times, in order to keep costs down for students and clients.
Thousands of saintly school horses across the country still need to be fed and cared for, even as their facility’s income dries up overnight.
Boarders who scrimp and save every penny just so their horse can live somewhere with quality, trustworthy care may soon be forced to choose between paying board and buying groceries as work closures and layoffs spread across Canada.
Many barn owners and managers will keep feeding and caring for these horses, covering boarders’ and school horse expenses out of their own pockets even as their bills don’t get paid, because they don’t want the animals to suffer.
The financial support measures announced by our federal government will help, but are probably not enough for a lot of people.
What can we do as a group of horse owners and lovers? Besides paying our board and training bills on time (for those of us who can) I wish I knew.
At one end of the spectrum, we’ve got people wondering how to keep food on their own tables and hay in their horses’ bellies. At the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of very wealthy people competing in our sport, as well as working behind the scenes to financially support elite riders and competitions.
What about all the funds that would normally have been spent to get an army of Team Canada riders, grooms, and officials to the Olympics this year? Assuming the Games get cancelled, where does that money go?
Is there a way to redirect some of the funds that would have gone towards national teams, class sponsorship at shows, and elite rider support back into the grassroots of our sport in these extraordinary times? I have no idea what that would look like - perhaps an centralized emergency assistance fund managed by Equestrian Canada? An “adopt a schoolie” program where people could donate online to their local riding schools? I saw that idea proposed on Facebook and loved it.
Even in these trying times, many of us could spare $10 or $100 to help bridge the gap for those in need right now. And let’s be honest; many people involved in dressage could afford to spare a LOT more.
I don’t have any answers, only questions. As we hunker down for what may be months of restrictions, barn closures, and self-isolation, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can pull together right now. Hope springs eternal, right?
About the author
I'm a middle-aged, overweight, rusty re-rider who refuses to let any of that get in the way of my passion for dressage.