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Insights & Opinions: Unintended Consequences

The last thing you want is to read another commentary about the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 or the respiratory disease COIVD-19. But as a journalist, I would be remiss not to address it.

The situation is fast-changing. What is true today may be vastly different from what is happening in the world by the time you read this. Yet, one thing is guaranteed — life won’t be back to normal.

It has been difficult to see how divided the people in our country have been due to disagreements over COVID-19. While social media is thankfully keeping us all connected in this time of social distancing, it’s also providing a forum for folks to be disrespectful, divisive and downright nasty. And the fake news? Surely, we must have hit some new record with the quantity of false information going viral online.

After the initial shock that came with some of our biggest shows of the year being canceled, it seemed the good people of our performance horse industry managed to do what so few others in the world are doing. They pulled themselves up by their boot- straps and made the best of it. They stood together as a united front.

Pictures like the one featured on page 120 in the April 15 QHN popped up more and more. We saw professionals, non-pros and amateurs alike do something they hadn’t allowed themselves to do in a long time. They slowed down.

They used the time to catch up on quality time with their spouses and kids, to work their younger horses more methodically and to give some of their trained show horses a much-needed vacation from the grueling show schedules we’ve created.

Not everyone in our industry agrees with the intensity of the restrictions throughout the country, but instead of letting it come between them and other industry members, they recognize the importance of unity.

The fact of the matter is: We have real lives and livelihoods at stake. The horse industry has come to a screeching halt. Show producers, trainers, lopers/grooms, association staff and commercial equine businesses are just trying to weather the storm. For many owners and breeders whose horse habits are supported by outside endeavors, the blow is (at least) twice as hard.

But what about the lives? What about the people most at risk of succumbing to the damaging effects of COVID-19? Maybe that isn’t you or me, but the list of living legends in our industry who are part of that high-risk demographic is long.

There is something to be said for not living in fear, for not allowing your life to be sense- lessly derailed. But this is not about that. It’s about people like Buster Welch.

It really hit me when his daughter Georgia posted a timeless photo of her dad on Facebook. Buster is an irreplaceable piece of cutting horse history we are lucky to have with us today, and she asked folks to stay home to save lives like his.

Austin Shepard, never one to dilute the truth, summarized it best: “This one hits home. We can’t risk people like this legend just to say this virus won’t change our life- style. Stay at home and do what’s right for them and yourself.”

People say the world has changed because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Nobody knows for sure how long the quarantines and social distancing will last, but many predict the world will never be quite the same. I don’t know if that’s true, but I hope that’s true in some ways.

This break in the rat race has shown us the importance of qualities like patience and selflessness. It has reminded us what truly matters most, encouraged us to be resourceful and made us appreciate the human interac- tion many of us had come to take for granted.

If you are a believer, I hope you find reas- surance in Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” If you are not, may the love of your fellow industry members who choose to stay home to help keep you safer give you the same comfort.

We may be apart, but now is a time to stand together, to unite and to be there for one another. I assure you Quarter Horse News will be here for you. My only hope is that when we get back to the grind, we don’t forget the lessons we’ve learned.

This Insights & Opinions column was published in the April 15 issue of Quarter Horse News. To purchase this issue, click here.