MEMBERS SHARE 2021 PLANS MHC Industry Professional members are not defl ated by 2020 and

are not daunted by the post-holiday surge in COVID cases. Eyes are up, and they are kicking on for 2021, determined that this year will be diff erent.

During the 2020 crisis, many barn opera-

tors had learned how to pivot in order to stay fi nancially viable. For some lesson farms, the cancelation of the beginner group lessons pre- sented new opportunities for the barn’s more intermediate level clients.

grams. We expect our rider population to continue to change. We are experiencing sizable increases in tweens and teens and expect that to continue throughout 2021. [We fi nd the] tweens and teens come to us because of isolation and anxiety. Our fundraising events in 2021 will be a combination of live and virtual. 2021 looks like a very busy year for the team at Talisman.”

Other barn owners, such as Michele Wellman, Explains Potomac

Horse Center manager Renee Terselic, “As you know, the bulk of our business is beginners, and beginners require the opposite of social distancing. Helping them to and from the stall, lift- ing them for mounting and assisting with dismounting, adjusting their hands and fi ngers on the reins, adjusting their position, holding hands with the younger clients when they are apprehensive, etc, is impossi- ble now. Also, beginners just feel better when you stay close to them during their fi rst several (or more) rides. It can be intimidating to ride a big, strong horse even if that horse is a 30-year-old, 13-hand pony that stands like a statue. Lessons and In-house leasing for clients who are riding at the intermediate level and above (translation: require no real hands-on assistance and can observe social distancing guidelines) has helped us to at least survive. Space made available by beginners who must unfortunately sit on the sidelines for now has given leasing the opportunity to grow a bit, which has proven to be invaluable to our survival. The horses, arenas and the schedule were simply too busy pre-Covid to allow for leasing, and this opportunity has given us all something to count on in these inconsistent times. It doesn’t make us whole, but it is keeping us alive. Bonus: It keeps the horses schooled and in shape for when we are once again able to welcome back our very patient beginner clients.”

Anne Joyner predicts that her “Talisman Ther- apeutic Riding will provide a record number of lessons in 2021!” Anne explains how the business was initially impacted by the pandemic, and then how they fi gured out how to make lemonade out of lemons: “We postponed lessons for eight weeks from mid-March to mid-May. During that time we conducted surveys of our riders, volun-

teers and staff to determine their “comfort level” in continuing with lessons. We produced a COVID protocol video [for the farm] which demonstrated rider arrival, temperature-taking, hand-washing, les- sons and departure. The barn doors were back open! Since then, we have provided daily lessons. After-all, we are an outdoor classroom! As we look to 2021, we anticipate further increases in ridership. We are ea- ger to hire more PATH International Trained Certifi ed Instructors, Ther- apists and volunteers. We need to add a pony to our herd of twelve. We are adding carriage driving in 2021 to our catalog of eleven pro-

are predicting more stability for their business- es in 2021, anticipating neither shut downs nor dramatic increase in requests for services. “I am planning on a normal year this year, of course ac- counting for Covid. Our barn [By Chance Farm] requires masks while not riding and we are pro- viding sanitizer (both surface and hand) for use by anyone who needs it. I have been teaching a normal schedule since last fall but I only teach riders on their own hors- es.” In 2020, Michele launched regular cavaletti days, which have be- come very popular with local riders of all disciplines, and she intends to continue those through 2021. In addition to her 4 licensed shows (which will comply with the USEF COVID Action Plan), By Chance will resume monthly schooling shows, but requiring advanced online en- tries even for schooling shows. “I guess we are technically full steam ahead,” Michele concluded. “I have 30+ boarders who have been very supportive during these stressful times, many who participate or plan to participate in our farm activities and shows. Honestly our barn com- munity has been fantastic.”

Reducing contact between show/

event secretaries and competitors has catapulted numerous competitions into the digital age. For other compe- titions already comfortable with digital products, the crisis has ramped up their experiments with new digital tools. For the Maryland Horse Trails at Loch Moy (which already has a full calendar of 2021

events), owner Carolyn Mackintosh has started using a new touchless scoring system from Australia: “I’m trying it out on my cross country derbies and will use it for all disciplines. The volunteers seem to like it, and Tracy McKenna (associate publisher of The Equiery who moon- lights at Loch Moy) has been great getting it off the ground. Every- one stays in their cars, using their phones to judge, including dressage judges and scribes. No contact, no score runners or paper. Everything is live scoring. The competitors receive their dressage tests and scores on their phones. We will get through this!

As of press time, websites for A Moment in Time, Full Moon

Farm, Linden Farm, Meadowbrook, Worthmore Equestrian Center and Wyndham Oaks have scheduled clinics and competitions now through summer. A Bit Better Farm has clinics scheduled for the fi rst quarter of 2021 while Waredaca has planned out a full year of clin-

This feature is a benefi t for MHC Industry Professional Members. To learn more or submit news & updates, contact Business Network Co-Chairs Jane Seigler & Crystal Brumme Pickett at


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