Originally posted on April 28, 2020.
Over the last few weeks, we have all experienced change. For some, it is working or studying from home. For others, it is finding ways to provide services to the public while abiding by orders designed to protect workers and the public alike. For still others, it is daring to explore new ways to keep a business (and thus employees and families) afloat when the traditional approach isn’t possible. And, for others, it is the incredibly difficult decision to shutter a business, even temporarily, and furloughing or letting go valued employees.
I’ve watched and encouraged and supported friends whose businesses are ALL about personal contact and personal service. For instance, I have lots of friends here in Boone County and across the country whose business is giving riding lessons to kids and adults alike. So, when an order comes down that says, “for now, no more riding lessons,” that means my friends are wondering if they can pay the bills to support themselves and any stall cleaners, maintenance workers and assistant instructors, but if they can literally “put food on the table” for the lesson horses that are the “bread and butter” of their businesses.
This is a courageous and creative group of people. They have hosted “virtual” horse shows, they have posted videos for their students about how to exercise in ways that will improve their health now and keep them in shape to ride again when the public health professionals say is safe to do so, they have made available all kinds of resources for parents and kids to enjoy to keep them involved with horses while there is no actual “barn time.” And, yes, they have asked for support from those who have benefitted from the lessons taught over the years, from the tolerance exhibited by those lesson horses. Former and current students have stepped up to sponsor hay and grain and care for their favorite lesson horses.
Nobody WANTED this pandemic. Nobody WANTED to create economic hardships. But, the pandemic is HERE. And our public health professionals have advised us how we can minimize its effect until we develop “herd immunity.” My friends in the horse business have abided by these orders. They know that the health of their students and their employees and their families MUST be their first consideration. It’s been a tough string of weeks. But they have adapted. They have pivoted. And, with the help of their community, they have decided they will survive.
So, now, at the end of the fourth week of April, when, in normal years, we would already have had at least two horse shows under our belts and been gearing up for strong regional competitions in May, my friends are instead preparing their plans for re-opening their stables to the public. Those plans have provisions designed to protect the health of students, employees and instructors. And, most of my friends are consulting public health professionals about their plans to make sure that they have covered their bases. They want to make sure that the worst thing that can happen at their barn is that a student picks up the incorrect diagonal!!
Life is not static. Life includes change. And the question is whether we have the courage not only to meet the change but to help others meet the change as well.