With horse shows suddenly cancelled and venues closed, as containment measures for COVID-19, a lot of equestrian businesses are left scrambling. And so are their employees.
Steven Bluman, our CEO, shares with us his thoughts on how to be a considerate barn owner or manager, during this situation.
We are all saddened at the sudden closure or cancellation of many horse shows. It is disappointing for the sport, but we understand the necessity for the safety of all and support any measures to keep people safe and healthy.
As caretakers of animals and staff, the responsibilities of these cancellations can be heavy. Foremost in our thoughts is the reality that most grooms and barn workers are far from home and unable to shoulder the expense of changed plans.
We are taking steps to keep everyone at Bluman Equestrian safe and healthy. Our staff is important to us and we are considering strategies to make sure all of our people are safe and have their needs met during this confusing time.
Keep lines of communication open and reassure your staff that they are in your thoughts, as you plan your next steps. Many barn staff are young or don’t speak English as a first language and may be confused or unsettled because of the uncertainty. Make sure they know their welfare is a priority for you too. (Covid-19 updated information on CDC)
Be prepared to supplement income beyond the usual. If your staff is inconvenienced and face additional expenses, offer financial help, especially if they do fall ill. Stocking up on supplies is expensive for anyone, but even more difficult for working students and staff on limited budgets.
There are so many ways barn staff can be impacted by social distancing that would never even occur to many barn managers. For example, a lot of grooms have pay-as-you-go phones and no credit card. Many are used to paying cash in person. If shops close and go to online service only, your grooms could end up with no phone.
Talk to your employees and see if there is any way you can help them! These small things have easy solutions, when the lines of communication are open. If you have a relationship of trust and mutual caring, we can all work together as a team to prevent hardships for everyone.
COVID-19 is a good lesson for all of us about preparedness. But it is also an opportunity to step up as employers, do right by our people, and show that the sport really is a caring and supportive industry.
Co-founder and CEO, Equo