Now Is The Time For Horse People To Look After Each Other
By Steven Wilde for The Chronicle of the Horse | April 7, 2020
I only seem to get around to writing these blogs when something big happens. It’s been Olympic success; it’s been about traveling around the globe…
Right now, I feel whatever we write is trite and, frankly, superficial. I would love to say I will give you some musings on the world and tell you everything will be OK, but events like this remind you how unimportant and insignificant you are.
Then, as we phone each other and talk—so many of us had just become texters, but now we need to talk again, to hear a real voice—you realize that it’s not about the individual but about the community, whatever that is, that a team effort can make things happen.
We have all been busy in the good times dropping into our silos, defending our corner and looking after ourselves. Maybe, just maybe, the tide is turning.
This is when we find out who in the horse world community will step up and help and who will look after themselves. To the outside world what we do right now, working in sport, is well down the priority list. I have always said that I was lucky to have my job. I am not a doctor or nurse or a firefighter; what we do is pretty trivial, isn’t it?
In these times that is truer than ever, but this is it. This is when we pull together as a community, our community. Wherever you are in the world, help each other. Horse shows are income for so many, and without them, reality bites. How do we pay the bills? How do we keep it together? This time will, in the end, not only be about the dreadful virus impact, but also the mental impact on people. And then there’s the fiscal stress, which will hopefully be repaired quicker than the rest, but only time will tell.
In this moment it is about pulling together to support those in the community, those people whom we have taken for granted for so long. Whether you’re an official, a braider, trainer or ring crew, your paycheck has vanished, and it’s not coming back in the immediate future. The horse show lifestyle seems a million miles away. Those without incomes will be scrambling to get back to it, not because of the desperate need to see or ride a horse but to put food on the table and money in the bank.
Worse than that is the ultimate reality of this situation: People are ill, and people are dying. That is the game on the table now. We can raise money through the “Show Jumping Relief Fund,” Equestrian Aid, Perfect Your Ride or several other such initiatives in the USA—donate if you can!—and that way we can help with the fiscal side of those in the horse show family. This isn’t the time to be dropping into our silos and protecting ourselves; it’s a time for helping each other and stepping up.
We have a community that will one day thrive again, but, in the meantime, pick up the phone, stay in and take this darn thing seriously! Make sure everyone is coping because many are not.
Horse shows and horse sport in general are a luxury, but it doesn’t mean that we all live in luxury. We are going to lose friends along the way; that is the reality of this.
Just a few weeks ago the biggest crisis was not being able to jump in three arenas at the same time. We now realize how much we would love to wind back the clock.
When we do come out of this, and we will, I hope it means that we will all be more appreciative of each other, admiring successes and experiencing a reality check on what is important. I hope we talk more than we did before, and we realize how lucky we were.
It will possibly be a different world, so don’t lose sight of what we had. We should embrace what we are: a traveling circus of friends and colleagues, who right now need to support each and every one of us.
Having lost a great friend last week, I will leave you with this:
For those we lose, carry their memory on. Their core values, the lessons they taught us, their sense of fair play. Learn also from our mistakes in the good times and grab hold of what is important right now. Keep strong, carry the torch of your predecessors and look after each other.
Steven Wilde got his start in commentating in 2001 and has gone on to announce at some of the world’s biggest venues, in all the Olympic disciplines. His voice has been heard at Hickstead, Blenheim and Barbury Horse Trials, and the 2012 London Olympic Games in England. He grew up in the sport of show jumping, as his mother was an international rider, and he’s been successful at organizing shows as well.