WHERE’S THE HORSE INDUSTRY HEADED, PART 2
By Richard E. “Rick” Dennis CPP
Freelance Writer and Author
April 21, 2020
© 2020 All Rights Reserved
On July 14, 2014 I authored and released an article entitled: Where’s The Horse Industry headed. The article was released on http://www.allaboutcutting.net. The article was structured in response to a down-turn in the horse industry and the article offered specific steps the horse industry could take to overcome this calamity. More specifically, it included a myriad proposals for Horse Associations to survive the down-turn. Overall, the horse industry survived the down-turn in the industry, but the industry has never been the same as it was in it’s hay day, or since. Today, the industry is again faced with a another calamity. However, this calamity is even more dire and in some instances the measures to combat it can mean the difference between life and death. The new calamity is Covid 19 – The Corona Virus.
COVID 19 – THE CORONA VIRUS
As we all know, the Corona Virus or Covid 19 entered the world scene in late December 2019 and has successfully shut down the worlds economy. The highly infectious and contagious virus has devastated world populations, caused sickness and death, and instituted fear in most of the world’s populations. As a kid growing up in the 1950’s I remember a similar disease outbreak which shares a common denominator with the Covid 19 virus – Polio. The shared common denominators are – both are highly infectious and contagious. However, there’s one difference between the two viruses. Polio, has a successful vaccine against the harmful and dire effects of the disease and as of yet, Covid 19 doesn’t have an effective vaccine. When Polio first hit the scene there was no vaccine and the same goes for Covid 19.
Sixty years ago, polio was one of the most feared diseases in the U.S. As the weather warmed up each year, panic over polio intensified. Late summer was dubbed "polio season." Public swimming pools were shut down. Movie theaters urged patrons not to sit too close together to avoid spreading the disease. Insurance companies started selling polio insurance for newborns.
The fear was well grounded. By the 1950s, polio had become one of the most serious communicable diseases among children in the United States.
In 1952 alone, nearly 60,000 children were infected with the virus; thousands were paralyzed, and more than 3,000 died. Hospitals set up special units with iron lung machines to keep polio victims alive. Rich kids as well as poor were left paralyzed. All ethnic groups were affected as were male and female genders.
Then in 1955, the U.S. began widespread vaccinations. By 1979, the virus had been completely eliminated across the country. Now polio is on the verge of being eliminated from the world. The virus remains endemic in only two parts of the globe: northern Nigeria and the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The differences between the two highly infectious and contagious viruses are: Polio didn’t shut down the worlds economy and there is a vaccine for Polio. As of yet, a vaccine hasn’t been invented for the Covid 19 virus. However, the techniques used to combat Polio are in use today to combat the Covid 19 Virus. The main one in use is: social distancing.
COVID 19 AND REOPENING THE ECONOMY
Once the Covid 19 virus has reached the peak of its infections in the United States and Globally, the next step for governments, in the U.S. and around the globe, is to develop a plan to gradually reopen the world’s economies, which includes the horse industry. As it was back in the 1950’s, the proposed safety protocols will most likely include social distancing – among other precautionary measures. Notwithstanding, until an effective vaccine for Covid 19 is developed the world as we knew it before the Covid 19 will disappear. The new precautionary techniques proposed and put in place, by governments around the globe, to prevent spread of the disease will be the new normal.
THE HORSE INDUSTRY SURVIVING COVID 19
The big question for the horse industry is: How does it survive the Covid 19 calamity, especially with social distancing guidelines in place? After all, the horse industry is a social happening, at it’s finest. Post Covid 19 will be entirely different from Pre-Covid 19. Therefore, post Covid 19 will establish a new set of guidelines for the horse industry in the same context as it does for society and other social gatherings. The big question is – what is the new normal for the horse industry? Until an effective vaccine is developed, I can envision horse shows being absent of spectators and only allowing participants. I can also envision horse shows being telecasted, or a virtual horse show so-to-speak. Instead of paying an entry fee to the arena, the viewer will pay a fee similar to pay-per-view TV.
Further, I can envision Open Classes being on separate days from Amateur, Novice, and Non-Pro Classes. I can also envision participants wearing protective masks in order to follow social distancing guidelines. Which ever the case may be, it will be our new normal in the horse industry. One thing I’ve found out about horse people, in my thirty years in the business, is that they are hardworking, resilient, adaptable, and survivors. Even though our new normal may be an imposition on our lives we will all comply for the sake of our businesses, our horses, and we all will adapt to the new social distancing guidelines and standards in order for our businesses to grow and be successful. At a horse show, stalling horses next to each other may become a thing of the past for a while or until an effective vaccine is developed. Nonetheless, we will comply and survive this ordeal.
Not only will the new government guidelines affect horse showing, it will also impact the horse sale industry. Horse sales are integral parts of the industry and horse associations rely on them for a boost in their revenue base. As in the foregoing, I can also envision horse sales being telecasted - or a “virtual sale” so-to-speak with a bid for a particular horse coming through the TV instead of from the viewing stands. Which ever the case may be, horse sellers and buyers will come together and adapt to the new government safety standards. In reality, lots of things are sold, bid on, and purchased, via, the TV – why not horses?, e.g., guns, boats, planes, jewelry, etc. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
WILL THE HORSE INDUSTRY SURVIVE?
Unless I miss my best guess, I’d say absolutely! Whatever the new normal will be, horse people will adapt, improvise, and overcome this new normal and hardship to complete our mission and survive life’s calamities. After all, we’re horse people. We’re tough, hard workers, innovative, adaptable, and survivors. As President Roosevelt once said, “The only thing to fear, is fear itself!” As long as we live smart, work smart, and show smart we will survive this ordeal as we have all others we’ve been confronted with.
“UNTIL NEXT TIME, KEEP EM BETWEEN THE BRIDLE”
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Richard E. "Rick" Dennis
Freelance Writer and Author