It’s risky business, the horse business, at any time.
As competition season starts to open again it’s time to take stock of where we were last year, and how far we’ve come since.
In 2021 there was a swinging door of competitions allowed/not allowed — vaccinated/unvaccinated — allowed/not allowed – and so on. Equestrian businesses were applying for grants and support just to keep going; boarders struggled to cover their horse expenses when their jobs were reduced or terminated. For many, working from home meant more freedom to juggle hours and see their horses at odd times.
In mid-summer, Manitoba Horse Council (MHC) was grateful to be a conduit to equestrian facilities with school horses, passing on two payments of Federal Community Support Grants to help with costs. MHC’s member clubs also benefitted from two extra grants; one which covered their prepaid competition insurance costs (at a time when they could not hold competitions and regain their expenses) and another to help with fixed expenses. This was on top of general program support grants.
Photos by Linda Hazelwood
MHC staff spent many hours poring over provincial health regulations to determine just how each regulation affected equestrian businesses. Late in the year it was determined that equestrian fell into “indoor and outdoor recreation,” then the category changed to “indoor and outdoor sporting facilities.” Here’s a conundrum. If you are competing at an all-day show, when you’re not on the field of play or caring for your horse are you counted as a spectator? If you attend an event with your child (who is a minor and has to have a Person Responsible at hand) are you counted as an official or as a spectator? What’s the definition of a tournament? Do you have to wear your mask while riding?
As we write this, restrictions are being lifted to allow more freedom of movement. We only hope that as you are reading this we are entering a full season of enjoyable riding, competitions, and movement across the country and looking forward to a good hay crop (unless the increased winter snowpack brings about flooding). We’re never happy, are we?
As stated at the beginning of this article, let’s take stock of our blessings this year. Everyone talked about getting back to normal but we haven’t got normal. We have WYSIWYG — What you see is what you get! We have survived, come through stronger, maybe not fitter, sometimes fatter, and we’re looking forward to a great summer.
Main Photo: Linda Hazelwood