“A Bad Time to Be a Horse”: New York Times Examines Struggling Horse Businesses and Rescue Farms in the Northeast

by Fran Jurga | 2 March 2009 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com

Empty saddle racks in a New York City area stable reflect empty stalls at boarding barns. Where did the horses go?

Yesterday’s New York Times was filled with financial news, economic downturn reports, and more stories yet about how people are coping with less or clinging to their jobs for dear life. It seems like only yesterday I savored Sunday morning with the papers spread out around me on the living room floor. Coffee in hand, I’d read about art and films and museums and books and peruse the ads for cars or clothes or jobs.?

Newspapers are different these days. The ads are all but gone and the cultural coverage is a shadow of itself. Instead, the paper is a survival guide to life here in the New York/Boston neighborhood. And the New York Times, thanks to its excellent web site,?is as likely to be read online as on the living room floor.

Imagine my surprise when I saw an article about how the economic downturn is affecting horse businesses in metro New York. I did a double-take. A photo of a tack room, sans tack, really hit home with me.

I’ve just returned from attending the American Farrier’s Association convention, a rare horse-related event that possibly exceeded its organizers’ expectations. I know there were more farriers in attendance than I had expected, and they were in good spirits. While some shook their heads and told tales of how bad it (supposedly) was in some part of the country or another, the farriers who spoke with me said cautiously, “It hasn’t hit me…yet….”?

But I noticed that the attendees tended to have gray hair and the look of successful professionals; I was obviously talking to established businessmen and -women. How different might it be for someone further down the success ladder, or for someone starting out??

One farrier school owner told me that applications were up, and that he had more students than ever, a fact he attributed to insecurity. “People are losing their jobs, they want a backup skill, they want to work for themselves,” he assured me. But will there be work for them all?

They can’t shoe horses that aren’t there anymore.

The Sunday papers are stuffed in the recycling bin now, but I want to share the Times article with you. I know that not everyone is out of work. I know some people still have the means to help out a horse in need. Whether it means bringing one home or sending a monthly check to a rescue farm or putting a donations jar on the counter where you work or rolling up your sleeves to clean stalls at a rescue farm…what are you doing? what can you do? when will you do it?

We can all do a lot more than we think we can, and the editors would welcome an article or a flurry of letters about how the horse world is pulling together in spite of the empty stalls and lifeless tack rooms. A good-news story would be welcome next Sunday on my living room floor, and yours, I’m sure.

Click here to read the New York Times article on horse rescue farms and businesses in the area.

Click here to view a slide show of images from the Times article.




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