By now, most, if not all, of you have felt the pains of hardship created by the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. I pray that this nasty virus has not affected any of you medically and this column finds you in good health.
I know many of you are suffering the difficulties of complying with the restrictions placed upon us in various forms of social distancing and the canceling, postponement or closing of nearly all venues where equine com- petitions are scheduled to be held in the foreseeable future.
This is but the tip of the iceberg — every human on the face of the earth has been asked to endure huge sacrifices.
Thousands of horsemen and horsewomen are financially burdened by this disease, as well. Many of those who depend on the equine industry — either directly or indirectly — are out of work or, at the very least, had their income sources shrink drastically. There is so much uncertainty in the world right now, and no one seems to have any clear-cut answers as to when we might expect to have conditions return to normal.
Having provided a very broad overview of the state of affairs in the horse industry caused by COVID-19, I would like to provide evidence of a silver lining, of sorts, in dealing with these abrupt and tragic changes in our lives.
When I was young, I was schooled by an old Irish horse trader named George Tyler.
One of the things he said that has stuck with me all these years: “It takes two prerequisites to be a horseman. First, you must be an eternal optimist; and second, you’ll have to have a great capacity for suffering!”
This really applies to anyone who farms, ranches or is in the livestock business. Those people — people much like most of you — come from strong stock with an inherent resolve and discipline to overcome adversity.
Those people must possess a positive attitude and approach to their way of life in those industries, otherwise they wouldn’t ever plant the first seed of grain or breed the first mare, cow or any other animal the human race depends upon to exist.
Yes, horsemen and women need horses to exist! Conversely, those same people must accept the risks associated with such endeavors. If you call yourself a horseman/woman, farmer, rancher or livestock person, then you have firsthand knowledge of which I speak.
Those people have all had to live with the bitter disappointments and suffer the consequences in these vocations they have chosen.
My friends, there is no hardier, more courageous and committed person in this world than a true horseman/woman, farmer or rancher.
Yes, we face lots of constraints right now. COVID-19 has forced social distancing and the various cancellations, closings or postponements of events and services we took for granted. But, it has also supplied us a most precious commodity — TIME!
This is the silver lining. In our normal, busy lives, there never seems to be enough time to really complete and properly finish many of the things we need to do. We take shortcuts in all sorts of ways in order to get through the day. Now, we can take advantage of the extra time.
Specifically, horsemen/women who train, breed, own and raise horses have been afforded a unique liberty; extra time has fallen upon them from a very dark and unwanted source. Young horses can now be furnished the time to mature in their training regimen at a slower pace. Older show horses can now be allowed to rest, recover and freshen before the next big event.
The primary trainers will be able to spend more quality time with their horses, providing for the best outcome. Owners and breeders have the opportunity to spend quality amounts of time halter-breaking and gentling their foals early (when it should be done) instead of trying to squeeze it in when time finally allows. Farm and ranch maintenance issues can be addressed, where before these things seemed to never be caught up due to a busy schedule.
One of the most important benefits to this extra time is opening up a better, more frequent dialog between trainers and their owners. This is bound to improve customer relationships. With children home because of school closings, parents have more time to cultivate their kids’ interest in what they are doing out in the barn and with their livestock.
There are many other silver linings that will reveal themselves as time goes by. In fact, what we’re doing now could very well become habit-forming, even when this pestilent disease is finally curtailed. The key to rising above the fray is to keep that optimistic attitude in all you do and remember that you have the capacity to suffer and overcome great disadvantage and sacrifice.
We are a horsemen and horsewomen, after all!
As always, I remain
This Frankly Speaking column was published in the April 15 issue of Quarter Horse News. To purchase this issue, click here.