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How You can Support Equine Businesses During these Challenging Times

COVID-19 has completely turned the world upside down. School life, horse shows, careers, virtually everything has been put on “pause.” This quarantine period is needed to save lives and not overwhelm the healthcare system.

However, this “pause” in the world can damage small businesses. This is especially true in the horse show world. Without shows and other equine events, many people cannot conduct their businesses. 

Yet, even in these daunting times, the equine industry is resilient and will persevere through hardship. The way to come back stronger than ever before is to stay connected. Finding ways to support equine businesses does not just help one individual or family; it contributes to the good of the entire industry. 

Continue purchasing  

Businesses in the equine industry rely on loyal customers to buy their goods and services. Without clients fueling transactions, the whole system is at risk of collapsing. The best way to support businesses in the equestrian community is by continuing to purchase from them if your funds allow.

Kelsey Keathly (pictured right), the owner of Norfleet Marketing & Photography, says, “If you have disposable income, purchase gift certificates for future services, pay a deposit on a photo session or custom jacket, restock your groom cart, or pay for a couple of extra lessons. Do it. Many of us have lost income from show cancellations.”

A loss of horse shows means a loss of money for many equine entrepreneurs. Something as simple as buying gift certificates for future appointments can make a world of difference.

The same mentality can be beneficial for trainers and their programs. Alexandria Bryner (pictured left), trainer at Bryner Performance Horses, suggests purchasing lesson packages or paying for a professional’s advice.

Bryner comments, “If you come for lessons, ask to buy lesson packages in advance. If you keep your horse at home, make a video, and pay your trainer/coach for a video critique.”

As for keeping horses in training during these challenging times, Bryner adds, “If you can keep your horse in training during this time, do it. There is plenty of time now for trainers to concentrate on making the horses better, getting the younger ones more broke, or teaching them a new event.”

The power of digital

The internet is a powerful tool that is seeing more action than ever before. Quarantine means more downtime, which translates to more people on their phones and computers. Using your presence online allows businesses in the equine industry to not only survive, but also thrive. 

Keathly comments, “Share the love with your favorite equestrian businesses. Writing reviews and testimonials, sharing posts from your favorite businesses, and engaging with their content on Instagram and Facebook are all great ways to show your favorite entrepreneurs that you support them.”

Advertising with online publications can be more beneficial to you now than ever before. Everyone is online more than usual, therefore, advertisements are reaching even more people. Continuing to promote yourself is an essential component of showing horses.  Use this time to stay in the spotlight and remain relevant so you don’t get forgotten once everything is back to normal.

Over the past month, trainers and various associations have utilized the power of the internet to create virtual horse shows. These opportunities are wonderful for exhibitors to practice if they have access to their horses.

 Bryner comments on the impact of virtual horse shows, “I think the use of social media through these times is helping the horse industry. Several people and associations have designed virtual horse shows. Great idea and keeps people intrigued while no “live” shows are happening.”

Recommend to your friends

The equine industry is a tight-knit community and word of mouth spreads quickly. Business expansion happens easily via recommendations. Whether it be a review on Facebook or even a conversation between two friends, every recommendation matters.

Erin Rhea Stubblefield (pictured right), owner of Erin Rhea Show Pads, comments, “Speak up. If you were provided excellent service or product from a business, talk about it. Help spread the word; it could mean the world to that business.” If you had a great purchasing experience with a business, share your story. Small acts can add up to a considerable impact. 

Keathly sums this concept up perfectly, “Recommending businesses to friends means the world to equestrian entrepreneurs. Our industry thrives on word of mouth.”

 Spread positivity 

In a dark time of negativity and confusion, positivity is the light. Positive energy is contagious and is beneficial to everyone in periods of uncertainty. Something as simple as a smile or an encouraging comment online can make someone’s day.

Good vibes are essential for the equine industry to survive and thrive. Coming together as a community is of utmost importance. If each equestrian can support one another via business interactions and positivity, we will become even stronger than before the pandemic. 

Keathly concludes, “I’d like to challenge everyone to choose positivity and community during this time – and all the time. Within the horse community, we’re a resilient bunch. Stay home and stay safe now so that we can be back to horse showing sometime before Congress.”

Why this is important

A fundamental aspect of this article is to understand why supporting equine businesses is crucial. Hard-working entrepreneurs are the backbone of the industry. Everyone from trainers to photographers, to those who sell equipment and clothing. The horse world is composed of many pieces that fit into one puzzle.

Keathly adds, “With all of the uncertainty in the world right now, it’s incredibly important to have a sense of community. Behind every business is a person working their behinds off to support themselves and their family.” 

Shopping small in the horse world can also make a significant impact on business owners. Stubblefield concludes, “Shop small and shop local. Small business owners need you now more than ever. Larger corporations are built to withstand collapses in the economy, but the small guys won’t stand a chance if no one makes a choice to support them.”

Equestrians are strong. By each person coming together to create a community, the industry will be unstoppable. 

About the Author: Cat Guenther is a devout equestrian and a freshman at Michigan State University. She has been riding horses for almost ten years and has loved every minute of it. Cat started and runs her successful show clothing business, Behind the Bit Show Clothing. She loves to show the all-around classes with her beloved horse, Zippos Kat Man Do, aka Teddy. Her favorite classes are horsemanship, showmanship, and trail. She is currently on a Pre-Veterinary track and also hopes to study business.