Editor’s Postcard: Who Will Carry On?

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Equine Facility Professionals are Hard Workers, Passionate, and (Maybe) Crazy

A few years back a teenage student of mine asked, “What will happen to all these horse facilities owned by old women like you after you all die?” Ha! I was taken aback (to say the least). I was only 45 at the time, but when you’re 15 years old I suppose 45 does seem ancient. I couldn’t think of an answer because I got so hung up on the “old women” part, but now I think the kid may have been right to be concerned. Who will be crazy enough to carry on this insane lifestyle after all the “old people” currently running facilities have departed?

Everywhere I go I see equine facilities owned and run by folks approaching (or well into) their senior years. This is partly due to the astronomical cost of purchasing land and building a facility which puts the horse business, and farming and ranching in general, out of the reach of many younger folks who may be interested in following the dream. 

The horse business is hard, expensive, and heartbreaking. Barn owners/managers need to be capable of basic mechanics, carpentry, fence building, pasture management, and business management. They need to understand how to teach and emotionally support all ages of humans. And of course, they must know all the things about horses—from correct nutrition to training to health care.

Running a boarding and training facility means growing a thick skin. Without it, the facility owner would crumple under the weight of sorrows and torment wrought by fickle clients, difficult and destructive horses, bad weather, loss of friends and clients, limited family and vacation time, and the grief of losing much-loved horses. Then there’s the financial reality that every penny earned goes right back into the farm, facility, or horses. Who’s crazy enough to do this? 

I fear for the future of the equine industry. If “average” young people with a passion for horses with the dream of owning their own place can’t possibly afford the financial or emotional burden, then only the ultra-wealthy will have horses, and the industry can’t survive with just a few people involved. Perhaps cooperative facilities owned by multiple people will someday be the norm. 

I love my life and my farm. I enjoy sharing my place with others. I count my blessings every day that I get to spend my time in a beautiful place with horses and their people. 

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