Given the current state of the world and the continuous sweeping panic surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it is understandable how horse owners are especially dealing with frightening uncertainty. According to CBS News, 4.4 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits as of a week ago. Since the COVID-19 outbreak started, more than 26 million Americans have lost their jobs. It is not only a health crisis, but an economic and social crisis as well.
The Horse posted an article over a month ago about the severe impact this outbreak had on horse owners regarding living expenses, feed supply and the added stress of tax season happening at the same time. Not only will the costs of owning and taking care of a horse escalate, but with spring moving with cautious footsteps, the financial and personal strains could push some horse owners to where they can no longer afford to keep their horses. Although there are resources to help those who are struggling, some of these resources might choose to instead criticize America’s poor preparation and refuse to help. However, one helpful resource is The United Horse Coalition (UHC), which is currently working on a searchable database of all resources and safety net programs to help those who are struggling. The Horse also recommends reaching out to local equine industries and physical or virtual communities to see if they can provide assistance. It is critical now to plan, budget and reach out to loved ones and friends in the equine industry to support each other during this difficult time.
On April 24, The Horse published another article regarding the impact on horses - specifically with public land and trail closures. Washington state started a trend of trail closures that many other states are following. Some are taking more extreme measures, such as Baltimore, Md., where horseback riding is illegal in state parks. Alayne Blickle, the article’s author, recommends, “Before you set out on public land, check with the land manager about what is open, including parking, turnarounds, and trails. While trails might open back up, trailhead parking for vehicles may still be closed.”
This is not exclusive to America either - CBC Canada reported on how horse owners may go into debt trying to care for their horses. Equine therapy facilities and ranches that own many horses can spend thousands of dollars per month, which can amount to hundreds of dollars per day depending on the number of horses and their dietary needs. According to CBC Canada, some people in the equine world cannot qualify for the same government assistance as other industries because their facilities “may not meet certain operational criteria.” And with millions of people around the world financially struggling, one cannot simply sell horses to mitigate bills and other costs of living.
If you are a horse owner and are struggling due to the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit this website of resources provided by the United Horse Coalition (UHC), which contains everything from safety net resources to activities for kids. You can also click here for more information and resources provided by US Equestrian. Stay safe, everyone.